Ethics guidelines

Ethics guidelines

Studies on regulated animals or humans

Approval for research involving regulated animals and humans should be obtained from the relevant ethics committee, and the full ethics committee name must appear in the statement. For human research, written informed consent should be obtained from the participants of the study. If the study was exempted from approval or the authors did not require ethical approval or written informed consent procedures, this must be clearly stated in the manuscript.   

For studies involving potentially indirectly identifiable human data (age, sex, place of birth, identifiable images etc.), authors require written informed consent from the participants specifically for the publication of the data. This differs from consent to participate in the research.

Please see our Research ethics checks: Guidelines for editors and reviewers document for more information.


AIRA and ethics checks

The Artificial Intelligence Review Assistant (AIRA) assists editors, reviewers, and internal teams by analyzing, interpreting, and communicating the quality of submitted manuscripts. The ethics checks ensure that manuscripts meet our ethical standards. During submission, authors are instructed to complete three generated ethics statements: animal studies, human studies and identifiable human images/data. AIRA displays the ethics statements the authors provide at submission in the three indicators in the review forum and checks manuscripts for words that may be used in ethics statements (e.g. ‘approval’ and ‘consent’). If there are any discrepancies when AIRA cross checks the manuscript content with the statements in the review forum, AIRA highlights these.

Please refer to this check and guidelines as part of your review. Upon assessment, you can interact with the AIRA checks to signify whether the matter is resolved, or that you are following up with the authors for more information. Following this, you can ask the authors to clarify if the ethics statement/s is unclear or insufficient, or should you require any further information.  

Please do not rely solely on the ethics statements provided in the AIRA indicators. Please also check the methods used and the ethics statements included in the manuscript file. Please refer to the Research ethics checks: Guidelines for editors and reviewers document to aid your assessment.


How to assess ethical requirements for manuscripts with AIRA

The Ethics AIRA checks allow you to:

  • state that you are satisfied with the statements provided by the authors;
  • inform the editorial office that you have followed up for more information from the authors;
  • raise any unresolved ethics issues with the Research Integrity team.
  1. Refer to the three Ethics AIRA checks (1: Animal studies statement verification; 2: Human studies statement verification; 3: Identifiable images and information) to identify which ethics statement(s) the authors have selected for their submission and which keyword(s) have been flagged.
  2. Cross-check this statement(s) with subjects and/or methodology used in the study.

  3. Authors should follow ethical requirements of their institution and/or local legislation.


How to interact with AIRA

  1. If you are satisfied with the relevant statement(s) the authors have selected and all of the indicators are marked green, please leave the indicator as it is (see Figure 1).
    Picture1.pngFigure 1. Screenshot of the AIRA indicators when all ethics statements have been provided.

  2. If you feel the relevant statement(s) are unclear or insufficient, please do not select any options and leave the indicator as is. Please include your feedback regarding the ethics statement(s) in your review comment box along with your other comments, under your ‘Editor’ tab’.

  3. If/when the issue has been resolved, please select the option Ethics statement is OK / Consent for publication statement is OK. (see Figure 2).

  4. If the issue cannot be resolved, please select the option Authors have been unable to resolve the concern regarding the ethics statement (see Figure 2)

  5. If you are unsure whether action is required from the authors or not, please select the option Unable to confirm, Frontiers Editorial Office to verify (see Figure 2). The Frontiers Editorial Office will be notified that you require assistance.


Figure 2. Screenshot of the AIRA indicators when no ethics statements have been provided but AIRA detected words related to studies on humans.