2018 Annual Meeting
San Diego, CA, USA
November 1-2

Call for Neuroethics Essays

The International Neuroethics Society (INS) is pleased to announce a call for submissions for the 2018 Student/Postdoc Essay Contest in Neuroethics! The contest—now in its fifth year—aims to promote interest in neuroethics among students and postdocs from around the world.

Participating authors can submit essays in one of two categories:

  • Academic Essay
  • Science Communication Essay

One winner from each category will be selected by the INS Student/Postdoc Committee in August and recognized at the 2018 INS Annual Meeting in San Diego—the premier gathering of professionals dedicated to neuroethics. Winners will also receive a free 1-year INS student membership and a Michael Patterson Travel Stipend ($250 USD) to support travel expenses to the meeting.

Share this call with your colleagues and students!
Direct them to this page or distribute our contest flyer with key details and deadlines.

Flyer cover

In addition, up to five authors of science communication essays will also be selected to participate in a 1-on-1 editorial mentorship with INS Chief Operating Officer Elaine Snell and INS Board member Mo Costandi, co-chairs of the INS Communication, Outreach, and Membership Committee. The winning essays and those selected for the mentoring opportunity will be considered for publication by the INS or by another institution appropriate for the topic discussed.

The essay submission deadline for this year has passed. We encourage you to review the format and requirements in the call for essays to prepare your future submissions.

Author Eligibility

All post-secondary students enrolled in a degree-granting program at the undergraduate, graduate, or professional level during the 2017-2019 academic years are eligible to participate. Postdocs, residents and other early-career trainees are eligible.

The committee encourages essay submissions from authors training in fields such as neuroscience, law, medicine, philosophy, and many other social and natural sciences. There are no restrictions regarding an author’s area of study as long as their essay meets all requirements.

Authors from all countries and regions are encouraged to participate. Authors do not need to be members of the INS to submit an essay. Participation in the contest does not preclude future submission of an extended version of the manuscript to academic journals.

Any questions about eligibility should be directed to the committee by email ([email protected]).

Essay Topic & Requirements

Essay submissions can cover any topic in neuroethics and should address a focused problem at the intersections of the mind and brain sciences, ethics, and law. Example topics include, but are not limited to: neuroenhancement, brain stimulation, ethics of neurodegenerative illness, philosophy of mind, clinical ethics in psychiatry and neurosurgery, neural imaging, big data and neuroscience, brain–computer interaction, military applications of neurotechnology, and free will.

The committee makes no restrictions regarding neuroethical topics and encourages authors to take creative approaches with their essays.

Academic Essay

Academic essay submissions should critically explore a current issue in neuroethics through a rigorous, evidence-based argumentation. Essays should be succinct, polished final drafts that are suitable for publication in a neuroethics, bioethics, or medical ethics journal.

Essays must be written in English by a single author and may not exceed 2,000 words, excluding references and disclosures. Students must submit original, unpublished work. Essays produced for or derived from previous coursework are eligible for submission.

Science Communication Essay

Science communication essay submissions should explore the interface between ethics, neuroscience, and society in plain language for the general public. Essays addressing neuroethical topics of high social significance are particularly welcome. Essays must be written in English by a single author and may not exceed 1,000 words, excluding references and disclosures.

Five authors submitting a science communication essay will be selected to participate in a 1-on-1 editorial mentorship with a science writing professional. Authors selected are expected to participate in the mentorship opportunity.

Scientific Abstracts

While not part of the contest, the INS does accept scientific abstract submissions for the annual meeting. Please review the call for abstracts for additional details, requirements, and deadlines.


Essay submissions must be saved as a single file (.doc, .docx, or .rtf) and emailed to [email protected] with the subject line “Student Essay Contest."

The file must include a cover page containing the author’s name, selected essay format, email address, phone number, program affiliation, type of degree, and year of study. The essay’s title and text should start on page 2 and not contain any of the author’s identifying information to allow for blinding essay for review.

The essay submission deadline for this year has passed. We encourage you to review the format and requirements in the call for essays to prepare your future submissions.

Selection Process

Essay contest winners

The 2016 INS Student/Postdoc Essay Contest winners Kaitlyn McGlothlen and Monique Wonderly, center and right, received a Michael Patterson Neuroethics Travel Stipend, presented by Dr. Michael Patterson, pictured left.

Essays will be judged on their originality and structure of argument, conceptual clarity, rigor of defense, quality of writing, and conclusions. Submissions undergo a blind review by two or more referees from the Student/Postdoc Committee. The committee includes a faculty mentor and is comprised of students and postdocs from the fields of neuroscience, law, medicine, philosophy, and other areas of the sciences and humanities. All decisions made by the committee are final.

Notification of the contest winners will be emailed to all submitting authors by August 15 and will be announced in the INS newsletter.

About the INS

The International Neuroethics Society is an interdisciplinary group of scholars, scientists, clinicians, and other professionals dedicated to encouraging and inspiring research and dialogue on the responsible use of advances in brain science. People at all stages of their career join the Society to interact, learn, and participate in critical neuroethics discussions that further this growing field.

About the Contest

This contest is organized by the members of the Student/Postdoc Committee and has been supported annually by Dr. Michael Patterson.

2017 Winning Essays

2016 Winning Essays

2015 Winning Essays

2014 Winning Essays