Ethics committee

The BMJ's ethics committee meets three times a year and has the ability to communicate regularly by email. Collectively, the members have broad expertise including clinical medicine, research, journalism, bioethics, law, and medical editing.

The committee has six main roles:

  1. 1. Clarifying, reviewing and developing editorial policies on issues such as:
    • Material arising from the doctor patient relationship (read our guidelines on consent to publication).
    • Competing interests for authors, reviewers, editors, and ethics committee members.
    • Prior disclosure of results to research participants.
    • Editors' duty of confidentiality to authors
  2. 2. Formulating new editorial policies.
  3. 3. Advising editors on ethics questions that arise during routine editorial work. This includes scrutinising papers referred by editors or peer reviewers worried about some aspect of the conception, design, conduct, presentation, authorship, or peer review of the work described in those papers.
  4. 4. Advising editors on their moral duties and responsibilities to patients, research participants, authors, reviewers, publishers, other editors and readers.
  5. 5. Helping editors to enhance the coverage of bioethics in The BMJ.
  6. 6. Keeping editors informed of developments in research and publication ethics.

The committee does not provide approval for research proposals, and it is not the last-resort destination for complaints or editorial decision support. Complaints and editorial decisions can be brought to the committee for information; and COPE can be contacted for more direct advice.

Useful references

Research ethics
Publication ethics
Ethics resources on the web