Science and Engineering Ethics

, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 159–170 | Cite as

The Frequency of Reporting Ethical Issues in Human Subject Articles Published in Iranian Medical Journals: 2009–2013

  • Behrooz Astaneh
  • Parisa KhaniEmail author
Original Paper


Researchers should strictly consider the participants’ rights. They are required to document such protections as an ethical approval of the study proposal, the obtaining “informed consent”, the authors’ “conflict of interests”, and the source of “financial support” in the published articles. The purpose of this study was to assess the frequency of reporting ethical issues in human subject articles published in Iranian medical journals during 2009–2013. In this cross-sectional study, we randomly reviewed 1460 human subject articles published in Iranian medical journals during 2009–2013 in two Persian and English language groups. Data collection was carried out by assessing articles, focusing on the documentation “ethics committee approval”, patients’ “informed consent”, “financial support”, “confidentiality”, and “conflict of interest”. Of 1460 evaluated articles, 443 (30.3%) reported “ethics committee approval”, 686 (47.0%) reported “informed consent”, 594 (40.7%) reported “financial support”, and 341 (23.4%) reported “conflict of interest”. 13% of the articles referred to patients’ confidentiality in their text. There was a significant association between these ethical documentations and the year of publication. Articles published in English language journals reported “ethics committee approval”, “financial support”, and “conflict of interest” significantly more than Persian language journals, but the frequency of “informed consent” was similar. Ethical documentation rate in Iranian medical journals is not up to the expected standards of reputable journals which might be related to a lack of awareness and the education of the authors and the journal’s editors. Precise reporting of ethical considerations in medical articles by authors are recommended. It is suggested journals and policymakers pay more attention to reporting this issue while providing standard guidelines in this regard.


Ethics Journalism Medical journals Research Iran 



This report was a part of the thesis written by P. Khani under the supervision of Dr. B. Astaneh. It was financially supported by Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran. The authors would also like to acknowledge Ms. Mohadese Zare, Ms. Zahrasadat Mortazavifar, and Ms. Malihe Omid for their contribution to this study.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors hereby certify that this is an original, unpublished work that is not under consideration elsewhere. We have no conflicts of interest to disclose.


  1. Al-Gaai, E., Hammami, M., & Al Eidan, M. (2012). Documentation of ethical conduct of human subject research published in Saudi medical journals/Justification du respect des règles éthiques dans la conduite de recherches impliquant des personnes publiées dans des revues médicales saoudienne. Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal, 18(7), 682.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Astaneh, B., & Masoumi, S. (2011). Professional medical writing and ethical issues: a developing country’s perspective. European Science Editing, 37(3), 85.Google Scholar
  3. Bahmanabadi, S., Kalate Jafarabadi, T., & Sahabani Varaki, B. (2014). The degree of observation of ethical standards in research: a case study of Ph.D. theses of the faculty of humanities of Ferdowsi University, MASHAD, 20072012.Google Scholar
  4. Bavdekar, S., Gogtay, N., & Wagh, S. (2008). Reporting ethical processes in two Indian journals. Indian Journal of Medical Sciences, 62(4), 134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Benos, D. J., Fabres, J., Farmer, J., Gutierrez, J. P., Hennessy, K., Kosek, D., et al. (2005). Ethics and scientific publication. Advances in Physiology Education, 29(2), 59–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Carlson, K., & Ross, J. (2010). Publication ethics: conflicts, copyright, permission, and authorship. Journal of PeriAnesthesia Nursing, 25(4), 263–271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Claudot, F., Alla, F., Fresson, J., Calvez, T., Coudane, H., & Bonaïti-Pellié, C. (2009). Ethics and observational studies in medical research: various rules in a common framework. International Journal of Epidemiology, 38(4), 1104–1108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gasparyan, A. Y., Ayvazyan, L., Gorin, S. V., & Kitas, G. D. (2014). Upgrading instructions for authors of scholarly journals. Croatian Medical Journal, 55(3), 271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gross, C. P., Gupta, A. R., & Krumholz, H. M. (2003). Disclosure of financial competing interests in randomised controlled trials: Cross sectional review. BMJ, 326(7388), 526–527.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Heidari, A., Adeli, S. H., Mehravaran, S., & Asghari, F. (2012). Addressing ethical considerations and authors’ conflict of interest disclosure in medical journals in Iran. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, 9(4), 1–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Henley, L. D., & Frank, D. M. (2006). Reporting ethical protections in physical therapy research. Physical Therapy, 86(4), 499–509.Google Scholar
  12. ICMJE (International Committee of Medical Journal Editors). (2016). Recommendations for the conduct, reporting, editing, and publication of scholarly work in Medical Journals.
  13. Jagsi, R., Sheets, N., Jankovic, A., Motomura, A. R., Amarnath, S., & Ubel, P. A. (2009). Frequency, nature, effects, and correlates of conflicts of interest in published clinical cancer research. Cancer, 115(12), 2783–2791.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Jordan, S. R., & Gray, P. W. (2014). Reporting ethics committee approval in public administration research. Science and Engineering Ethics, 20(1), 77–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Koushan, M., Pejhan, A., Shomoossi, N., & Shomoossi, A. (2014). Ethical considerations in publishing medical articles in Iranian journals. Acta Facultatis Medicae Naissensis, 31(2), 105–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Krimsky, S., & Rothenberg, L. S. (2001). Conflict of interest policies in science and medical journals: editorial practices and author disclosures. Science and Engineering Ethics, 7(2), 205–218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Meschia, J. F., & Merino, J. (2003). Reporting of informed consent and ethics committee approval in genetics studies of stroke. Journal of Medical Ethics, 29(6), 371–372.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Myles, P. S., & Tan, N. (2003). Reporting of ethical approval and informed consent in clinical research published in leading anesthesia journals. The Journal of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, 99(5), 1209–1213.Google Scholar
  19. Navabi, N., Shahravan, A., & Modaberi, A. (2013). Reporting of ethical considerations associated with clinical trials published in Iranian dental journals between 2001 and 2011. Iranian Journal of Public Health, 42(6), 594.Google Scholar
  20. Perlis, Roy H., Perlis, Clifford S., Yelena, Wu, Hwang, Cindy, Joseph, Megan, & Nierenberg, Andrew A. (2005). Industry sponsorship and financial conflict of interest in the reporting of clinical trials in psychiatry. American Journal of Psychiatry, 162(10), 1957–1960. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.162.10.1957.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Qureshi, J., Sud, A., & Vakil, N. (2012). Funding source and conflict of interest disclosures by authors and editors in gastroenterology specialty journals revisited. Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, 35(6), 690–695.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Ruiz-Canela, M., Martínez-González, M. A., Gómez-Gracia, E., & Fernández-Crehuet, J. (1999). Informed consent and approval by institutional review boards in published reports on clinical trials. New England Journal of Medicine, 340(14), 1114–1115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Salamat, F., Sobhani, A.-R., & Mallaei, M. (2013). Quality of publication ethics in the instructions to the authors of Iranian journals of medical sciences. Iranian Journal of Medical Sciences, 38(1), 57.Google Scholar
  24. Schroter, S., Plowman, R., Hutchings, A., & Gonzalez, A. (2006). Reporting ethics committee approval and patient consent by study design in five general medical journals. Journal of Medical Ethics, 32(12), 718–723.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Taljaard, M., McRae, A. D., Weijer, C., Bennett, C., Dixon, S., Taleban, J., et al. (2011). Inadequate reporting of research ethics review and informed consent in cluster randomised trials: Review of random sample of published trials. BMJ, 342, d2496.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. US Department of Health & Human Services. (2009). Code of Federal Regulation, Title 45 public welfare, department of health and human services. Part 46: protection of human subjects. and Accessed July 6, 2017.
  27. WMA (World Medical Association). (2013). Declaration of Helsinki—Ethical principles for medical research involving human subjects.
  28. WMA (World Medical Association). (2014). World Medical Association Declaration of Helsinki: Ethical principles for medical research involving human subjects. The Journal of the American College of Dentists, 81(3), 14.Google Scholar
  29. Yank, V., & Rennie, D. (2002). Reporting of informed consent and ethics committee approval in clinical trials. JAMA, 287(21), 2835–2838.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Medical Journalism Department, Paramedical SchoolShiraz University of Medical SciencesShirazIran
  2. 2.Research and Clinical Center for Infertility, Yazd Reproductive Sciences InstituteShahid Sadoughi University of Medical SciencesYazdIran

Personalised recommendations