Call for Neuroethics Essays

The International Neuroethics Society (INS) is pleased to announce a call for submissions for the 2017 Student/Postdoc Essay Contest in neuroethics! The contest, now in its fourth year, aims to promote interest in neuroethics among students and postdocs early in their academic careers. This year, participants can submit their essays in one of two categories:

  • Academic Essay
  • Science Communication Essay

One winner from each category will be selected and recognized at the 2017 INS Annual Meeting in Washington DC—the premier gathering of professionals dedicated to neuroethics. Winners will receive a 1-year INS student membership and a Michael Patterson Neuroethics Travel Stipend ($250) to support travel expenses to the meeting.

The essay submission deadline has been extended to July 7 at 5:00 p.m. EDT (previously June 30).

Winning essays will be considered for publication in an outlet relevant to the essay topic. Up to five top science communication essay finalists will also be selected to participate in a 1-on-1 editorial mentorship with professional science communicators.

All post-secondary students enrolled in a degree-granting program at the undergraduate, graduate, or professional level during the 2016-18 academic years—as well as postdocs and residents—are eligible to participate.

Essay Topic & Requirements

The essay can cover any topic in neuroethics and should address a focused problem at the intersections of the mind and brain sciences, ethics, and law. Some example topics include neuroenhancement, brain stimulation, ethics of neurodegenerative illness, clinical ethics in psychiatry and neurosurgery, brain imaging, big data and neuroscience, brain-computer interaction, military applications of neurotechnology, and free will.

Academic Essay

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

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 Students must submit original, unpublished work.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.

Up to five authors submitting a science communication essays will be selected to participate in a 1-on-1 editorial mentorship to revise their publications. These selected authors will be expected to participate in the mentorship opportunity and submit a revised draft of their essay to the Student/Postdoc Committee by August 15 to be considered for a travel stipend to attend the INS Annual Meeting. We will seek a suitable outlet to publish the winning science communication essay.


Essay submissions must be saved as a single file (.doc, .docx, or .rtf) and emailed to 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, 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.

Submissions must be received by July 7, 2017 at 5:00 p.m. EDT (extended from June 30).

Selection Process

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 Essay Contest Judging Committee, comprised of members of the INS Student/Postdoc Committee and the INS Faculty Mentor. All decisions are final.

Notification of the contest winners will be emailed to all authors by August 15, 2017, and will be announced in the INS newsletter.

About the Contest

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

2016 Winning Essays

  • “Addicted and Attached: A Neglected Perspective on Neuroscience Research Linking Addiction and Love,” by Monique Wonderly, Princeton University.
  • “Oops, There Goes My Childhood: Identity and Ethical Issues in the Selective Erasing of Memories,” by Kaitlyn McGlothlen, University of Washington.

2015 Winning Essays

2014 Winning Essays

About INS

The International Neuroethics Society is an interdisciplinary group of scholars, scientists, clinicians and other professionals who share an interest in the social, legal, ethical and policy implications of advances in neuroscience. Our mission is to promote the development and responsible application of neuroscience through interdisciplinary and international research, education, outreach and public engagement for the benefit of people of all nations, ethnicities and cultures.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply