Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics: A Journal of Qualitative Research
Inquiries or submissions to Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics: A Journal of Qualitative Research should be directed to the editorial office via email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Download an electronic sample.
NIB invites three kinds of submissions:
1. Narrative Symposia. Narrative symposia may be invited or proposals may be submitted for review. Symposia will consist of approximately 10 – 12 personal stories followed by 2 commentary articles. Ordinarily, the symposium editor will invite both types of symposium contributions. However, topics of forthcoming symposia will be announced on the NIB website, allowing individuals to submit a brief (300 word) abstract of proposed personal stories or their credentials for writing a commentary on the stories dealing with the subject matter.
a. Personal stories are short autobiographical essays (4 – 8 double-spaced pages or 1,000 – 2,000 words) that describe personal experience with the symposium topic. The primary purpose of these stories is to provide rich descriptions of personal experience. Personal stories should give readers a sense of what it is like to experience the subject matter under consideration. Good personal stories will be true (accurate portrayals of subjective experience), interesting, and easy to read. Depending on the symposium subject, ideal authors of personal stories may include patients, researcher participants, health care workers, researchers, or others. Symposium editors will provide authors of personal stories with further guidance regarding “prompt” questions that should be addressed in the narratives. Personal stories will be followed by Commentaries. Individuals who wish to submit a personal story in response to a symposium announcement should email the editorial office (email@example.com) a 300-word summary of the story they wish to submit. Ordinarily, individuals will be informed within 4 weeks whether they are invited to submit a full story.
b. Commentary articles analyze the narrative data shared in the personal story articles, identifying and exploring themes, contrasts, patterns, or new insights. Commentaries should relate lessons learned from the stories to current debates in bioethics by citing scholarly or policy literature. Commentaries should be between 3,000 – 5,000 words or 10 – 20 double-spaced pages. While NIB is not dedicated to any one particular qualitative methodology, some questions commonly asked in narrative, case study, and phenomenological analysis are relevant to analyzing the personal stories:
- Are there “significant statements” that provide insight into the subject matter?
- Are there dichotomies within stories?
- Are the stories surprisingly silent on any matters?
- Do any themes or clusters of meaning emerge across the stories?
- Is there an underlying structure to the experiences related in the stories?
- Is your own analysis or interpretation of the stories shaped by any compelling personal experiences or by relevant literature?
- Do the stories challenge any prevailing assumptions or paradigms for understanding the subject matter?
- What insights or themes in the stories might inform ethical judgments or policy recommendations related to the subject matter?
c. Guidelines for Developing a Narrative Symposium Proposal. Given the novel and complex format of a narrative symposium, editing a narrative symposium needs to be a collaborative endeavor. Symposium editors are expected to work closely with NIB editorial staff at all stages of the project. Symposium editors must have substantial connections to the community from which they plan to solicit stories—a cold call via listservs and other venues is unlikely to yield a sufficiently large and diverse collection of stories. Proposals for Narrative Symposia should be submitted to the Managing Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. Initial proposals should be approximately 500-750 words (2-3 double-spaced pages) and should address the following questions:
- What topic do you propose?
- How is it relevant to health care ethics or policy?
- Why is a narrative approach needed? What new insights might it provide into the subject matter?
- Describe the kind of person who might write the stories. While qualitative researchers often use “triangulation,” narrative symposia need to elicit stories from just one group—e.g., adult cancer patients (without eliciting stories from family members or healthcare providers). This is the only way we can adequately cover the diverse perspectives of a target group within the scope of just 10 – 12 stories.
- How do you plan to recruit personal stories? Do you have personal contacts within the target community? Can you access listservs to share a call for stories? Will your target group readily have access to email? Do you have peers who would assist in recruiting story authors?
- What do you plan to ask authors of personal stories to address and how will you ask them to structure their contributions? Provide a list of 4 – 6 specific questions you’ll invite story authors to address. (See Author Guidelines at top of page)
- Who will you invite to write a commentary on the personal stories?
If your topic and connections to the community appear promising, the Managing Editor will provide further guidance on developing a call for proposals, recruiting stories, and inviting commentary articles. We are happy to review draft proposals. Before proposing a topic, please review our list of Forthcoming Symposia.
2. Qualitative and Mixed Methods Research Articles. NIB welcomes submitted papers that report on qualitative and mixed methods research studies, including ethnographic, interview, focus group, observational, mixed methods, and related studies in the areas of bioethics, human research ethics, or health care ethics. A variety of approaches to inquiry are welcome, including narrative, phenomenological, grounded theory, ethnographic, and case study approaches. Manuscripts must be organized using a clear hierarchy of headings and subheadings. While authors may establish their own subheading titles, they should have divisions correlating to “background” (no heading necessary), “methods,” “results,” and “discussion.” Articles may be up to 7,500 words.
3. Case Studies. Case study articles are stand-alone articles that include an in-depth description and analysis of one or more instructive cases from health care that involve an ethical problem. The author or authors of a case study must be personally involved in the case being discussed. NIB welcomes case studies on a variety of subjects including clinical care of patients, institutional undertakings, and policy initiatives. Case studies should be rich in description and should contain an analysis of the case that explores how the ethical challenges might best be addressed and what can be learned from the case. All case studies must adhere to the confidentiality principles outlined in the Author Guidelines. The editors may or may not invite commentaries on the case study. Case study articles should be 3,500-5,000 words.
4. Narrative Education Reports. NIB publishes reports on the integration of narrative writing, journaling, or literature into the education of health professionals. Articles may be written as case studies describing and evaluating educational programs or as outcomes research studies using qualitative or mixed methods. Narrative Education Report articles will ordinarily range from 2,000-4,000 words.
Submissions to NIB should follow “APA Style” (the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 5th edition), using author/date references throughout. A useful free resource on APA style can be found at: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/01/. Manuscripts should be double-spaced on 8 1/2" x 11" paper with 1” margins. The title page should include all authors' names, affiliations, and highest professional degrees; the corresponding author's address and telephone number; 5 keywords; acknowledgements; and a disclosure of conflicts of interest. The title page should be followed by an abstract of 100 – 150 words.
All contributors to NIB are expected to follow the highest standards for publication ethics and research integrity.
NIB is committed to protecting privacy and confidentiality. Agreements to publish personal stories require a willingness to make personal information public. However, personal stories, case studies and qualitative research studies may intrude on the privacy of third parties (e.g., family members, colleagues, or patients). As is standard in scholarly publishing, NIB’s publication agreement requires authors to assume the responsibility for avoiding libel and privacy violations. Strategies for doing so include:
Table 1: Examples of Unacceptable and Acceptable Descriptions of Living Individuals and Institutions
Unacceptable—Identifies 3rd party
Acceptable—De-identifies 3rd party
Dr. Finney, my primary care physician,
The physician who ordered the test never discussed my results with me.
Mrs. Jackson was a 42-year old African-American woman who had a rare
A patient presented to the emergency room with a rare congenital disease. We will call her Mrs. Smith. (Note: race might be mentioned if relevant and non-identifying.)
While at the local VA hospital, I acquired
While hospitalized, I acquired a staph infection. During my stay, I never observed the nurses wearing gloves or washing their hands after handling patients.
My father was an alcoholic and beat me.
Difficult to de-identify.
Contributors should adhere to the authorship guidelines provided by their field (e.g., APA for psychologists or ICMJE guidelines for medical researchers). At a minimum, all individuals listed as authors must have (a) made a substantial intellectual contribution to the publication, (b) played a role in the writing or editing of the manuscript, and (c) reviewed and approved the final manuscript. When the lead author signs the publication agreement form, he or she does so on behalf of all authors and indicates that he or she has the agreement of others to do so.
Authors are expected to comply with their institution’s requirements regarding human subjects protection and are encourage to check with institutional review boards (or research ethics committees) regarding their policies on the review of case studies and related materials.
Authors are expected to disclose in their Acknowledgements section any and all funding received for their work, as well as financial or personal relationships that might bias (or be perceived to bias) their work. Authors must also identify individuals who offer writing or other assistance with their article and disclose the funding source for this assistance. If authors have no conflicts of interest or funding to report, they should state this in their acknowledgements.
Volume: 2 (2012)
Frequency: 3 issues
Print ISSN: 2157-1732
Online ISSN: 2157-1740