Case study guidelines

The purpose of these cases is to stimulate discussion about the practical ethical issues that arise in the field for those conducting research in humanitarian settings and crises.
The case studies should:
be about 300-500 words long;
highlight an ethical issue that arose during research in a humanitarian context;
include any unexpected ethical issues not anticipated during project design or ethics review;
highlight lessons learned from ethical challenges and point to good practice that developed.
Structure: We do not have a rigid template, and our published cases can be used as examples. Each case should have a short introduction to the research project and its general setting. Then explain how the ethical dilemma or challenge was identified. Focus on how those involved addressed the ethical issue, especially ways they had to adapt what was planned or innovate to ensure ethical principles were upheld to the greatest extent possible. If subsequent reflection led to conclusions that things could have been done better, reflect on this and what changes could be needed to ensure this happens. A short conclusion should summarise the lessons learned from the case and the main take-away message(s). Personal language (“we did,” “our team discussed,” etc.) would be preferred to engage readers rather than impersonal language.
Anonymity: All participant details should be kept anonymous. Individuals, organisations and locations should not be identified, unless details about the case are already available publicly. If so, a reference to the publication can be included.
Discussion: All cases will be followed by a comment box to allow readers to submit comments, or ask questions in a blog fashion. All comments will be moderated by a member of the PREA research team.
Submission: Please submit your case to Dónal O’Mathúna, PI for PREA, via an email to
Editorial Assistance: If you would like editorial assistance with a case, please submit a draft copy requesting this. If you have previous reported an ethics case in a publication, and would like one of our researchers to assist in adapting it, please include a copy of your publication or a link to it with suggestions about how it could be adapted. We will work with you to clarify ethical aspects of the case and obtain your approval before publishing it on our website.
Author Acknowledgement: Cases can be attributed in one of two ways. Your name and affiliation can be listed (with a way to contact you if you wish) or they can be published anonymously with a statement like: “This case study was provided by a researcher who wishes to remain anonymous to protect the confidentiality of the participants.”