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J Ethnopharmacol. 2018 Jan 30;211:329-339. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2017.08.015. Epub 2017 Aug 15.

Best practice in research: Consensus Statement on Ethnopharmacological Field Studies - ConSEFS.

Author information

Research Cluster 'Biodiversity and Medicines'/Research Group 'Pharmacognosy and Phytotherapy', UCL School of Pharmacy, University in London, 29-39 Brunswick Sq., London WC1N 1AX, UK. Electronic address:
Vorhaldenstrasse 8, 8049 Zurich, Switzerland. Electronic address:
Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Cagliari, Via Ospedale 72, 09124 Cagliari (CA), Italy. Electronic address:
Institute of Systematic Botany, University of Zürich, Zollikerstrasse 107, CH-8008 Zürich, Switzerland. Electronic address:
Department of Primary Care and Population Sciences, University of Southampton, UK. Electronic address:
Research Cluster 'Biodiversity and Medicines'/Research Group 'Pharmacognosy and Phytotherapy', UCL School of Pharmacy, University in London, 29-39 Brunswick Sq., London WC1N 1AX, UK.
Missouri Botanical Garden, P.O. Box 299, St. Louis, MO 63166-0299, USA. Electronic address:
Laboratorio Ecotono, INIBIOMA, CONICET-Universidad Nacional del Comahue, Argentina. Electronic address:
College of Life and Environmental Sciences, Minzu University of China, Beijing 100081, China. Electronic address:
School of Natural Product Studies, Department of Pharmaceutical Technology, Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India. Electronic address:
Department of Botany and Zoology, Stellenbosch University, 7601 Stellenbosch, South Africa. Electronic address:



Ethnopharmacological research aims at gathering information on local and traditional uses of plants and other natural substances. However, the approaches used and the methods employed vary, and while such a variability is desirable in terms of scientific diversity, research must adhere to well defined quality standards and reproducible methods OBJECTIVES: With ConSEFS (the Consensus Statement on Ethnopharmacological Field Studies) we want to define best-practice in developing, conducting and reporting field studies focusing on local and traditional uses of medicinal and food plants, including studies using a historical approach.


After first developing an initial draft the core group invited community-wide feedback from researchers both through a web-based consultation and a series of workshops at conferences during 2017.


The consultation resulted in a large number of responses. Feedback was received via a weblink on the Journal of Ethnopharmacology's website (ca. 100 responses), other oral and written responses (ca. 50) and discussions with stakeholders at four conferences. The main outcome is a checklist, covering best practice for designing, implementing and recording ethnopharmacological field studies and historical studies.


Prior to starting ethnopharmacological field research, it is essential that the authors are fully aware of the best practice in the field. For the first time in the field of ethnopharmacology a community-wide document defines guidelines for best practice on how to conduct and report such studies. It will need to be updated and further developed. While the feedback has been based on responses by many experienced researchers, there is a need to test it in practice by using it both in implementing and reporting field studies (or historical studies), and peer-review.


Consort (adaption); Ethnopharmacological field studies; Historical studies; Medicinal plants; Traditional medicine

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