AMA Journal of Ethics®

Illuminating the art of medicine

Journal of Ethics Header

AMA Journal of Ethics®

Illuminating the art of medicine

For Authors

Instructions for Peer-Review Manuscript Submission

Authorship Criteria and Responsibilities

Each author should have participated sufficiently in the work to take public responsibility for appropriate portions of the content. According to the guidelines of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors, authorship credit should be based on the following 4 criteria: (1) substantial contributions to conception or design of the work, or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; and (2) drafting of the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; and (3) final approval of the version to be published; and (4) agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

All authors (i.e., the corresponding author and each coauthor) must read, complete, and submit an electronic authorship form with signed statements on authorship responsibility; confirmation of reporting conflicts of interest and funding; and publishing agreement. An email with links to the authorship form will be sent to authors for completion after manuscripts are at the revise and resubmit stage.

Manuscript Types

Original Research 1 (2500 word Maximum)
This category includes qualitative and quantitative reports of original data that can influence our conceptions of important issues in bioethics.

Original Research 2 (2500 word maximum)
This category includes conceptual, theoretical, analytical, philosophical, or other humanities-based explorations that can influence our conceptions of important issues in bioethics.

Ethics Case Vignette with Commentary (1500 word maximum)
Ethics cases offer a narrative describing an ethically complex case arising in a health care practice setting, analyze the ethical dilemma or issues raised in the narrative in light of the bioethics literature, and, typically, offer advice.

Medical Education (1500 word maximum)
These articles describe an innovative, exemplary educational strategy, philosophy, curriculum, or training model intended to contribute to trainees’ professional and ethical formation and influence ethical dimensions of clinical practice.

State of the Art and Science (1500 word maximum)
These articles analyze the ethical, legal, or policy implications of a cutting edge development that affects health care at the systemic or clinical level.

In the Literature (1500 word maximum)
These articles analyze the contributions of a recent or classic article to current bioethical issues or debates.

Health Law (1500 word maximum)
Articles in this section typically examine a legal case with implications for health care in its social, scientific, or political context.

Policy Forum (1500 word maximum)
These articles analyze the ethical import of government or professional organization policies for health care practice and examine collective and individual obligations to promote policy change in health care.

Medicine and Society (1500 word maximum)
Articles in this section analyze the ways in which social and cultural values and practices influence health and health care.

History of Medicine (1500 word maximum)
These articles examine the historical development or context of innovations or issues in health care practice.

Images of Healing and Learning (1500 word maximum)
These articles illuminate the patient experience through analyses of art or literature.

Medical Narrative (1500 word maximum)
These first-person narratives illuminate individuals’ experience in health care.

On Second Thought (1500 word maximum)
Articles in this section analyze a controversial ethical issue from multiple authorial or disciplinary perspectives.

Letter to the Editor (800 word maximum)
This category includes discussion of the content of a recent AMA Journal of Ethics article and must be received within 6 weeks of the article's publication. Letters written in collegial and scholarly tone that either augment an interesting or important point made in an article or problematize an interesting or important point neglected in an article will be considered.

Word Count

Manuscripts submitted for peer-review consideration should be written at the word counts specified above, excluding abstract, references, tables, and figures.

Cover Page

Manuscripts submitted for peer-review consideration must upload one file containing an anonymized manuscript and a separate file containing a cover page that lists authors’ names, affiliations, and contact information.


Manuscripts for consideration as Original Research 1, reports of original data, should include a structured abstract must not exceed 300 words using the headings listed below. Each section should include the following content:

BACKGROUND: State the research question or describe the study’s design (qualitative or quantitative) and ethical relevance.
METHODS: For qualitative or quantitative studies, describe the essential features of any interventions or exposures, including their method and duration, and, for quantitative studies, indicate the primary outcome measurement(s).
RESULTS: For qualitative or quantitative studies, provide the numbers and method of selecting participants and report the main outcomes of the study.
CONCLUSIONS: Provide conclusions that are directly supported by the arguments or results, indicate the ethical implications, and whether additional study is required before the information should be more widely applied.

Manuscripts for consideration in as Original Research 2 or any other manuscript type must include an abstract that summarizes the article’s key points and identifies major concepts that are drawn upon to motivate a conclusion about those key points. Abstracts for this kind of manuscript must not exceed 125 words.


Authors’ manuscripts must include a brief 2-3 sentence biosketch that includes authors’ degrees (e.g., MD, JD, PhD, EdD), credentials, preferred professional self-descriptions, institutional affiliations, and summaries of relevant professional interests.

Formatting and Style

File format:

For submission and review, please submit the manuscript as a Word document. Do not submit your manuscript in PDF format. Use 11- or 12-point font size, double-space text, and leave right margins unjustified (ragged).


Manuscript should include authors’ names, affiliations, and biosketches on a separate title page. Word count (exclusive of abstract, acknowledgement, references, tables, and figures) should also be included in the title page.


Manuscripts should include authors’ names and affiliations only on a separate title page. Manuscripts’ text must comply with the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition. Manuscripts must be paginated in the bottom right corner.

Abbreviations in manuscripts’ titles should be avoided. Abbreviations in the text should be introduced with full descriptors followed by the abbreviation in parentheses with subsequent in-text uses of the abbreviation only.

Terms requiring in-text emphasis must be italicized, not underscored or capitalized.

Unless the brand name of a drug is directly relevant to a manuscript’s content (rare), all drugs, biologics, or devices should be referred to by generic names.

All references to persons or their conditions must be de-identified as much as possible.

For Original Research 1 manuscripts, please identify the institutional review board, if any, that granted approval of or exemption for the study.


Authors are responsible for the accuracy and completeness of their references and for correct text citation. Number references in the order they appear in the text; do not alphabetize or use the endnotes function in Word.

References must be indicated in the text with full-size Arabic numerals in brackets, e.g., [3], and must be numbered with full-size Arabic numerals followed by a period, e.g., 3., at the end of the manuscript in the reference section.

References must be formatted according to the AMA Manual of Style, 10th edition; samples are offered below. URLs for material accessed on the Internet must be listed completely with a date of most recent access. Sources for direct quotations must indicate the specific page on which the quotation is found in the source document.

Journal article:
Ackermann-Liebrich U, Voegeli T, Günter-Witt K, et al; Zurich Study Team. Home versus hospital deliveries: follow up study of matched pairs for procedures and outcome. BMJ. 1996;313(7068):1313-1318.

Collins PH. Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment. Boston, MA: Unwin Hyman; 1990.

Solensky R. Drug allergy: desensitization and treatment of reactions to antibiotics and aspirin. In: Lockey RF, Bukantz SC, Bousquet J, eds. Allergens and Allergen Immunotherapy. 3rd ed. New York, NY: Marcel Decker; 2004:585-606.

Government and association online documents:
Center for Reproductive Rights. Punishing women for their behavior during pregnancy: an approach that undermines women’s health and children’s interests. Published September 2000. Accessed June 20, 2014.

Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, Pub L No. 111-148, 124 Stat 119. Accessed April 1, 2016.

Legal case:
Gonzales v Carhart; Gonzales v Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc, 550 US 124; 127 SCt 1610 (2007).

AMA Code of Medical Ethics:
American Medical Association. Opinion 5.055 Confidential care for minors. Code of Medical Ethics. Accessed September 10, 2014.


Number all tables and figures in their order of citation in the text. Include the source(s) and permissions, when drawn—either verbatim or adapted— from a prior publication, for the data or information contained in each table or figure.

Include a title for each table (a brief phrase, preferably no longer than 10 to 15 words). Include all tables at the end of the manuscript file. Maximum of 4 tables and/or figures per manuscript. If a table must be continued, repeat the title on the second page, followed by “(continued).”


Number all figures (graphs, charts, photographs, and illustrations) in the order of their citation in the text. Include a title for each figure (a brief phrase, preferably no longer than 10 to 15 words). Maximum of 4 tables and/or figures per manuscript.

At submission, the following file formats are acceptable: TIFF, GIF, JPG, PDF, Postscript, or EPS. Figures should be loaded as separate files for submission purposes.

Naming of Persons with Disabilities, Illnesses, or Health Conditions

The journal’s policy is to preserve the anonymity of persons with disabilities, illnesses, or other conditions unless they self-identify in an identifiable source listed in the references.


The corresponding author is responsible for ensuring that the acknowledgment section of the manuscript is complete and must confirm in the Authorship Form that acknowledged individuals’ permission to be named has been obtained.

If applicable, please identify institutional review boards that granted approval of or exemption for a study or any other important contributions from nonauthors.