Most research in nursing is unlikely to cause physical harm. Psychological harm however, such as upsetting people or exposing them to uncomfortable questions, may be more likely. For this reason it is widely acknowledged that the psychological effects of research need to be considered carefully. This editorial explores the protection of people within nursing research and specifically some inherent paradoxes that relate to the participants, researchers and those that review research. It offers some protective measures that might usefully be applied to protect individuals from emotional harm. Our contention here is twofold: first, that such consideration has largely been in relation to research participants and to some extent, researchers. But potential unwitting psychological harm to an invisible group of people has been largely ignored. Second, by exposing research protocols to people who may have closeted negative or skewed attributions to the topic under scrutiny, a new layer of gate-keeping has been introduced. Quite simply, there is a protection paradox at play.