Call for Neuroethics Essays

The International Neuroethics Society (INS) and the International Youth Neuroscience Association (IYNA) are pleased to announce a call for submissions for the Neuroethics Essay Contest in 2024. Now in its 11th year, the contest promotes interest in neuroethics among students and trainees around the world.

Four submission categories are available:

  • IYNA-INS High School Neuroethics Essay
  • General Audience Essay
  • Academic Essay
  • Video Essay

Authors of winning submissions — a total of four (4) with one from each category — will receive a $500 prize. Authors with honorable mention submissions — which may be up to eight (8) from across the four categories — will receive a $250 prize. 

All authors with a winning and honorable mention essay are also eligible to receive:

  • A 1-year INS student membership ($15-30 value)
  • A registration waiver to the next INS Annual Meeting ($150-200 value)
  • A travel stipend to attend the next INS Annual Meeting in-person ($500-1,500 value).

Essays must be submitted by July 5, 2024. Incomplete or late submissions will not be accepted. Please review all eligibility and submission requirements below. We especially encourage submissions from students and trainees from underrepresented groups. 

Share the call for essays with your colleagues and students who are interested in neuroethics! We have images and documents to promote the contest available in multiple languages. Thank you for helping to spread the word.

Contact INS staff (staff@neuroethicssociety.org) with questions or requests for accommodation. Contact Ashvin Kumar, Managing Editor of the IYNA Journal (ashvin.kumar@youthneuro.org), with any questions or requests for accommodation if you plan to submit to the IYNA-INS High School Neuroethics Essay category.

Author Eligibility

Education Level

Participation in the contest is open to any high school or secondary school student, any post-secondary student, and any postdoctoral fellow or similar early-career trainee from anywhere in the world. Students must be currently enrolled in school, accepted to a program for a future term, or preparing to apply to graduate programs.

Those included in the definition of ‘post-secondary student’ or ‘early career trainee’ during the Spring 2024 semester may submit an essay to either the Academic or General Audience categories. Authors may submit up to two different essays — one for each category.

Students in high school or an equivalent secondary school program during the Spring 2024 semester must submit their essays to the IYNA-INS High School Neuroethics category.

Post-secondary Students

‘Post-secondary student’ includes those enrolled in a degree-granting program at the undergraduate, graduate, or professional level. This also includes those enrolled in pre-university institutions such as CEGEPs, sixth form colleges, lycées, etc. Examples of ‘early-career trainees’ include recent graduates serving in a postdoctoral position, medical residents or fellows, postbaccs, judicial law clerks or articled students at law firms, research assistants, and contract or sessional lecturers/instructors in their first or second years out of graduate training.

Temporary Breaks

Students taking a temporary break or gap year from their studies and prospective students who are actively applying to education programs are eligible to participate in the contest. Students who have been accepted to an education or training program for an upcoming semester are also eligible.

Professionals / Former Students

Professionals are not eligible to participate in the contest. For the purposes of contest eligibility, individuals who are solely employees and not engaged in a training program are considered professionals and are not eligible to participate in the contest.

Discipline / Status

There are no restrictions regarding an author’s program or area of study as long as their essay meets all requirements outlined below. The committee encourages essay submissions from authors training in fields such as neuroscience, law, medicine, philosophy, psychology and many other social and natural sciences. Authors from all countries and regions are encouraged to participate, and we especially welcome applicants from underrepresented or marginalized groups.

Contest winners are warmly encouraged, but not required, to attend the upcoming INS Annual Meeting. Participation in the contest does not preclude future submission of an extended version of the manuscript to academic journals or other scholarly or general audience publications.

Membership 

Authors do not need to be members of the INS or IYNA to submit an essay. 
If you have questions about eligibility, contact INS staff (staff@neuroethicssociety.org).

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, neurolaw, neurology, moral psychology, moral philosophy, neuro/brain stimulation, ethics of neurodegenerative illness, neurogenetics, neurotechnology policy and regulation, 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 in-principle restrictions regarding neuroethical topics and encourages authors to take creative approaches with their essays. We encourage you to review previous winning essays as you put together your contest submission.

Use of ChatGPT and other AI Writing Tools

Ethical use of large language models and generative AI is essential. Authors may occasionally use generative AI to assist in framing their thoughts and revising their writing. However, authors should exercise caution, avoiding sole reliance on AI. If an AI was used at all in the preparation of the essay, it is essential that authors disclose which AI tool was used and how AI was used. Authors should not list AI tools as authors or co-authors. 

Contest Categories

Authors eligible for the Academic and General Audience categories may submit up to one essay to each contest category. All authors may submit a video essay in addition to a written essay. Essays must be submitted separately.

IYNA-INS High School Neuroethics Essay

Submissions to the High School competition should explore the relationship between ethics, neuroscience, and society in plain language for the general public. Essays should be based on reliable primary and secondary sources. Wikipedia and similar sources are not acceptable. 

Essays must be written in English by a single author enrolled in high school or an equivalent secondary school (see above). Essay length may not exceed 1,000 words. An abstract and references do not count toward the total word count.

Scientific Abstracts: While not part of the essay contest, the INS accepts scientific abstract submissions for the annual meeting. Review the call for abstracts for details, requirements and deadlines.

Essay for a General Audience

Essay submissions to the General Audience category should explore a topic or story at the interface between ethics, neuroscience, and society in plain language for the general public, as might be found in a magazine or news outlet aimed at non-specialist audiences. Essays addressing neuroethical topics of high social significance are particularly welcome. Essays produced for or derived from previous coursework are eligible for submission as long as they meet all other requirements. 

Essays must be written in English by a single author who is considered an eligible post-secondary student or early career trainee (see above). Essay length may not exceed 1,000 words excluding references and disclosures.

Academic Essay

Academic essay submissions should critically explore a current issue in neuroethics through rigorous, evidence-based argumentation. Essays should be succinct, polished final drafts that represent original, unpublished work and are suitable for publication in a topically-appropriate scholarly journal. Essays produced for or derived from previous coursework are eligible for submission as long as they meet all other requirements. 

Essays must be written in English by a single author who is considered an eligible post-secondary student or early career trainee (see above). Essays may not exceed 2,000 words excluding references and disclosures.

Video Essay

Video essay submissions are an audio-visual equivalent of a creative arts-based essay. They should explore a topic or story at the interface between ethics, neuroscience, and society in plain language for the general public. Video essays can include audio, visual, and textual material to convey a narrative, story or poetic text. Your own video material, voice-overs, still images, music and other creative pieces may be included in the video. Appropriate credits must be provided for any content that is not produced by the submitter. 

Video essays can be in English, Spanish, French, German, Telugu, KiSwahili, isiXhosa or Yoruba but must have subtitles in English. Videos must be by a single author from any of the eligible groups listed above. Videos should be a minimum of 5 minutes and maximum of 7 minutes in length and should be shared/uploaded as an mp4 file. References and disclosures should be displayed at the end of the video, which does not count toward the time requirement. 

We encourage educators to share this opportunity with students! And when appropriate, tailor the guidelines of your course-required essays to make it easy for authors to submit a version for the INS essay contest.

Submissions

Submissions must be received by July 5, 2024, at 11:30 p.m. EDT. Incomplete or late submissions will not be accepted. The deadline has been extended 10 days in previous years, but this is not guaranteed.

You must complete the Contest Entry Form and then separately email the final version of your essay. Essays cannot be uploaded through the form, as in previous years.

For the High School category, authors must fill out both the Contest Entry Form and then separately submit the final version of their essay via the submission portal on the IYNA website. The submission portal will open May 1. See the contest page on the IYNA website for updates.

For the Academic, General Audience, and Video categories, authors must fill out the Contest Entry Form and then email a final version of their essay to: submit@neuroethicssociety.org. When emailing, use the subject ‘Essay submission’ and format the file name as ‘surname-2024-category.pdf’ — with surname being your surname without dashes or spaces, 2024 denoting this year’s contest, and category being the essay contest category. Your essay must be a pdf, doc, docx, or mp4 file.

Authors submitting an essay for the academic and General Audience categories are encouraged to use the essay format document (docx) to ensure your submission includes all required information on a cover page and no identifying information on any other page so your submission can be easily anonymized for the review process. Video essays should be shared/submitted as a mp4 file or authors may provide a link to a video publicly available on YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, etc. Contact INS staff <staff@neuroethicssociety.org> with any questions about the submission process.

We will review your essay for all requirements and respond with a confirmation email within a few days. Review all requirements outlined above before submitting.

Selection Process

All essays will be judged on their originality and structure of argument, conceptual clarity, rigor of defense, quality of writing, and conclusions as outlined in this year’s scoring rubric. Video essays will not be judged on their production quality. See the scoring rubric for written essays (pdf) and video essays (pdf)

Submissions undergo an anonymous review by two or more referees from the INS Student/Postdoc Committee or by a panel of judges chosen by the IYNA Journal Editorial Team. Contest referees include students and postdocs from the fields of neuroscience, law, medicine, philosophy, and other areas of the sciences and humanities. All decisions made by the INS Student/Postdoc Committee and the IYNA judges are final.

Recognitions will include:

  • Four (4) winners will be selected – one from each contest category
  • Up to eight (8) honorable mentions will be selected among all contest categories

Notification of the winning and honorable mention submissions will be emailed to all participating authors by September 6, 2024. See winners and honorable mentions from previous contests.

Publishing

Winning and honorable mention essays will be posted on the contest website and may be considered for publication by another institution appropriate for the topic discussed. Recent winning essays have been published online by the Dana Foundation and past winners have gone on to publish essays in other outlets, such as Scientific American. All submissions to the IYNA-INS High School Neuroethics Competition category will be considered for publication in the IYNA Journal. 

Participation in the contest does not preclude future submission of a version of the manuscript to other magazines, academic journals, or other scholarly or general interest publications.

Curriculum

Educators are encouraged to incorporate the contest into their curriculum or coursework. For an existing essay or written assignment, consider mentioning the essay contest and the range of topics that fit the broad definition of neuroethics. If looking for a new approach to bridge humanities and the sciences or to have students investigate the philosophical and ethical

considerations related to the brain, consider developing an assignment that fits the submission requirements of the contest. Essays produced for or derived from previous coursework are eligible for submission.

History

The INS started the Neuroethics Essay Contest to promote academic interest in neuroethics among students and early-career trainees around the world. The contest has recognized at least two authors for outstanding scholarship each year since 2014. The General Audience category was added to the contest in 2017 to encourage the practice of communicating science to the public. In 2019, eligibility was extended to high school students with the help of the IYNA. Since its inception, the contest has been supported by the late Dr. Michael Patterson, who was a former editor of the Kopf Carrier and long-time supporter of neuroethics.

Organizers

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 careers join the Society to interact, learn, and participate in dynamic discussions that further the growing field of neuroethics.

The International Youth Neuroscience Association is a global, youth-led nonprofit which supports and advocates for neuroscience education. The IYNA Journal publishes articles on neuroethics and other neuroscience topics. Since its founding at the 2016 USA National Brain Bee, the IYNA has expanded to represent over 1,000 members in 126 countries.