This guide highlights legal and non-legal resources for research on bioethics topics.
The study of bioethics covers many different topics, from medical professional-patient relations, to end-of-life issues, to issues relating to new medical technologies. This research guide is designed to highlight important resources, not limited to legal resources, for research in any bioethics topics. The guide will focus on United States resources.
GETTING BACKGROUND INFORMATION
If you are not familiar with bioethics, the following resources will give you general background information and definitions of terms:
- Bioethics Topics (University of Washington School of Medicine)
"Each topic begins with an overview and a series of commonly asked questions, and followed by case-based scenarios and useful links."
- Scope Note Series (National Resource Center for Bioethics Literature)
The series "is not designed as a comprehensive review, but rather offers immediate reference to facts, opinion, and legal precedents (if applicable) for scholars, journalists, medical and legal practitioners, students, and interested laypersons."
- Belmont Report (Report of the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research, April 18, 1979)
This report outlines the key principles of bioethics.
- Jerry Menikoff, Law and Bioethics: An Introduction KF3821.M46
This book introduces readers to the core concepts of bioethics through analyzing classic cases from a number of areas in bioethics.
- Janet Dolgin, Bioethics and the Law KF3821 .D65
- Michael H. Shapiro et al., Cases, materials, and problems on bioethics and law, 2d. ed. KF3821.A7 S47
Lengthy casebook focusing on bioethics topics.
- Encyclopedia of Bioethic[ Electronic] Print: QH332.E52
5-volume set with comprehensive coverage of bioethics topics.
- A Companion to Bioethics , Helga Kuhse and Peter Singer, eds. R724.C616
- Richard Hedges, Bioethics, Health Care, and the Law: a Dictionary R725.5.H44
- Marcus Duwell, Bioethics: Methods, Theories, Domains QH332 .D89
- Encyclopedia of Ethical, Legal, and Policy Issues in Biotechnology [Print and Electronic] TP248.16.E539
- Source Book in Bioethics: A Documentary History R724 .S599
- Talking Glossary of Genetic Terms (National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institutes of Health)
This glossary provides pronunciations, audio information and images of genetic terms.
- Genome Glossary (DOE Human Genome Program)
- Glossary of Stem Cell-Related Terms
- American Medical Association Encyclopedia of Medicine
Over 5000 entries with brief definitions of terms, some with illustrations. Also includes a drug glossary.
- Encyclopedia of Applied Ethics
FINDING BOOKS AND JOURNAL ARTICLES
Using GULLiver, the Library's Catalog
You can search GULLiver by keyword of subject heading for books on this topic. Take a look at our Gulliver tutorials. Here are some subject headings you can use.
- Bioethics -- United States
- Medical laws and legislation -- Moral and ethical aspects
If you are interested in books on end-of-life issues in bioethics, here are some subject headings you can use.
- Assisted suicide -- Law and legislation -- United States
- Assisted suicide -- Moral and ethical aspects -- United States
- Advance directives (Medical care) -- United States
- Euthanasia -- Law and legislation -- United States
- Euthanasia -- Moral and ethical aspects
- Right to die -- Law and legislation -- United States
The Law Library subscribes to many interdisciplinary and social science databases, many of which are relevant to bioethics research. The following is a selective list highlighting the most useful databases and bibliographies accessible to our students and faculty members:
- ETHX on the Web
Created and maintained by the National Reference Center for Bioethics Literature (NRCBL) at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics, ETHX on the Web is a comprehensive bibliographic database of "journal articles, book chapters, bills, laws, court decisions, reports, books, audio-visuals, and news articles relating to bioethics and professional ethics." It contains over 180,000 citations. Most journal article records are from 1988 to the present, but approximately 12 per cent are prior to 1988. Books and audiovisuals acquired since 1975 are now in the database. Although most materials are in English, citations to materials in other languages, particularly Dutch, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish, are present. The database is updated monthly. Almost every item cited in the database is available in the Bioethics Library on main campus.
The Law Library collects some materials on bioethics. Check GULLiver (The Law Library Catalog) and E-Journal Finder to determine if you can access the same materials in the Law Library.
- Genetics and Ethics
It is a subset of ETHX on the Web. It contains more than 22,000 citations on ethics and public policy issues in genetics.
This U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM) database provides access to over 12 million MEDLINE citations back to the mid-1960s. These are mainly medical journal articles. The database is indexed using Medical Subject Headings (MeSH). The PubMed site offers animated tutorials on how to search by MeSH. Check GULLiver (The Law Library Catalog) and E-Journal Finder to determine if you can access the materials in the Law Library.
- MEDLINE (Ovid)
A subscription database available through the Dahlgren Library web site provides some full-text articles (compared to PubMed's free but citation/abstract only database). Check GULLiver (The Law Library Catalog) and E-Journal Finder to determine if you can access the materials in the Law Library. (no off-campus access)
It provides citation information of books, journal titles, reports and audiovisuals in the National Library of Medicine collections. LOCATORplus has about 18,000 records. In order to limit retrieval to Bioethics literature when searching on LOCATORplus, choose "Advanced Search" and add ethics KIE as a search term in keyword.
e.g. Search for: aging as any of these, Search in: Keyword Anywhere; And
Search For: ethics KIE as any of these, Search in: Keyword Anywhere.
So how are ETHX on the Web and Genetics and Ethics different from NLM's MEDLINE/PubMed and LOCATORplus? [see Chart]
- Approximately one-third of the 180,000 ETHX on the Web materials are currently in MEDLINE/PubMed or LOCATORplus. The latter two databases contain more than 200,000 items about bioethics. The overlap is about 75,000 citations.
- MEDLINE/PubMed and LOCATORplus are indexed using Medical Subject Headings (MeSH). For help with searching Bioethics materials on MEDLINE/PubMed , check "Changing Vocabularies: A Guide to Help Bioethics Searchers Find Relevant Literature in National Library of Medicine Databases Using the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) Indexing Vocabulary." ETHX on the Web is simply classified by a short list of 22 categories and their subdivisions. If you are researching a very specific concept that is represented by a MeSH term, you should use MEDLINE/PubMed and LOCATORplus.
- For a print searching guide, consult Bioethics Searchers Guides: Using National Library of Medicine and National Reference Center for Bioethics Literature Databases
- Mark A. Hall, Ira Mark Ellman, Daniel S. Strouse. "Health Care Law and Ethics in a Nutshell" [Reading Room Reserve/Call No.: KF3821. Z9 H35]
- Mark A. Hall, "Health Care Law and Ethics" KF3821.A7 C8
- James F. Childress. "Biolaw: A Legal and Ethical Reporter on Medicine, Health Care, and Bioengineering"/ R724.B5 (no longer updated)
In addition to these bioethics-specific resources, library catalogs are good resources to locate books on your topic.
- GEORGE (Georgetown University's Online Catalog) provides information about the location of bioethics books housed at the NRCBL (books cannot be charged out) as well as Georgetown University system libraries. You can search books housed at the NRCBL by number from the NRCBL classification scheme or MeSH. students have borrowing privileges at Georgetown University libraries.
- GULLiver ( Georgetown University Law Library Online Catalog) The Law Library has a good collection of bioethics materials. Check the catalog and E-Journal Finder to see if we have the books and journals you are looking for before visiting the NRCBL.
Legal Journal Indexes
Don't forget to check law journals which publish a fair number of "bioethics and the law" articles. Most students only search in the full-text journal database on Lexis or Westlaw. Just over half of all law journals published are available on the full-text journal database on Lexis and Westlaw. Moreover, volumes and issues published before the late 1980s are usually not available online. If you are looking for older articles and articles published in journals not covered by Lexis and Westlaw, search in law journal indexes:
- Legal Periodicals and Books and Legal Periodicals Retrospective (formerly ILP) (1908-present, citation only). The print version goes back to 1908.
- LegalTrac (Legal Resources Index) (1980-present, citation only)
When you search in law journal indexes, you will have to take another step to get the full-text. You can search either E-Journal Finder ( Tutorial ) to see if any of our online subscription databases include the full-text of the journal articles you want, or GULLiver to see if we have the journal issue on the shelf.
Other Journal Indexes
Other journal index databases (include some full-text) that may be of use to you are
- Social Sciences Index
- Academic Search Premier
- ProQuest Research Library
- Philosopher's Index
- ATLA Religion Database
- ProQuest Religion
You can also find references to journal articles and books in bibliographies:
- LeRoy Walters, Bibliography of Bioethics (from v. 1, 1975) Z6675 .E8 W34
- GenBiblio (HumGen: International Database on the Legal, Social and Ethical Aspects of HUMan GENetics)
It is a searchable database of reports and publications produced by bioethics-related agencies from around the world. Bibliographies can be built by selecting a research area, an ELSI (ethical, legal and social implication) and a specific group. Most resources are available free on the Internet.
To find other bibliographies on bioethics, search GULLiver (Library Catalogue) by subject: Medical ethics - bibliographies, or Bioethics - bibliographies.
FINDING NEWS ARTICLES / CURRENT AWARENESS
As bioethics is a fast-changing field, it is important to keep up-to-date. Westlaw and Lexis have full-text newspapers databases. The followings are free bioethics/health specific news sources.
- BioEdge: Bioethics News for Health and Legal Professionals and the Media
- News (The Phoebe R. Berman Bioethics Institute at the Johns Hopkins University)
- News Links (Genethics.ca)
Genetic research-related news sites
- AP Health News
- American Medical News
- Health News (CNN)
FINDING LEGISLATION & CASES
The most relevant constitutional provisions are the equal protection and due process provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment. You can find the text of the Fourteenth Amendment in any version of the United States Code, official or annotated, online or electronic.
Statutes and Legislative History
You can retrieve federal or state code sections easily if you have the citation of them from a secondary source or from a case. You can always search the code databases to find the sections, but there are two genetics-specific legislative databases that you should know of:
- Legislative Database (Genome.gov)
This searchable database includes both federal and state laws, regulations, and policies related to genetics (stem cell research, cloning, employment/insurance discrimination, etc.)
- Genetics Laws and Legislative Activity (National Conference of State Legislatures
This web site has two components:
- State Genetics Laws outlines the relevant state statutes and cases on any of the 10 sub-topics: Embryonic and Fetal Research, Employment, Frozen Embryos, etc.
- Genetics Legislation Database is a searchable database which "contains information on bills considered in state legislatures beginning in the 2004 session, including carry-over legislation introduced in 2003."
One way to obtain cases on a topic is to find relevant journal articles or books which usually cite leading cases. From there, you can Keycite (on Westlaw) or Shepardize (on Lexis) the cases to find other relevant cases and journal articles. ETHX on the Web which indexes leading bioethics cases is another good resource.
If you are interested in cases about end-of-life issues, this is a helpful website.
- Health Care Ethics Cases (Ascension Health): The website maintains summaries of "significant legal and clinical cases that illustrate important issues in health care ethics." Each case summary also includes a link to "Key Ethical Principles" and "Issues & Concepts) that are especially relevant to that case. Ascension Health is a large Catholic and nonprofit health system.
USEFUL WEB SITES
Government Departments and Agencies
- The President's Council on Bioethics
The purpose of this Council is to advice "the President on ethical issues related to advances in biomedical science and technology." Topics of concern include cloning, stem cells, beyond therapy (enhancement), patenting human life, biotechnology and public policy, sex selection, . . . The site provides meeting agenda, transcripts, reports and background materials.
- Genome.gov (National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institutes of Health)
Orginally set up to map the human genome, the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) (previously known as the National Center for Human Genome Research), is now one of 27 institutions and centers that make up the NIH. It applies genome technologies to the study of specific diseases. The web site provides information about NHGRI's research projects and its grant. The "Policy & Ethics" section includes a searchable "Legislative Database" of federal and state laws and policy related to genetics (stem cell research, cloning, employment/insurance discrimination, etc.).
- The United States Department of Health and Human Services website can provide diverse and concise information on the improvement of the health, safety, and well being of Americans and the legal ramifications.
Other Content-Rich Web Sites
- Bioethics Resources on the Web (National Institutes of Health)
The Web site includes resources that provide background information and various positions on issues in bioethics. These resources includes NIH bioethics-related resources; other federal resources, documents, reports and background info on specific bioethics topics.
- NLM Gateway Search
"The NLM Gateway allows users to search in multiple retrieval systems at the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM). The current Gateway searches MEDLINE/PubMed, LOCATORplus, MEDLINEplus, Clinical Trials.gov, DIRLINE, Meeting Abstracts, and HSTProj."
Maintained by the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania., the web site provides links to bioethics news for the week and the American Journal of Bioethics (full-text available only to subscribers). You can enter your email to receive weekly news updates. There are also links to debates, articles, reports on featured topics: cloning, genetics, and NBC's ER.
- BioethicsWeb (United Kingdom)
"BioethicsWeb offers free access to a searchable catalogue of Internet sites and resources covering biomedical ethics." Descriptions of each web site are available. No new materials have been added since February 2010, but existing links and resources on this website will be updated through July 2011.
- Center of Bioethics, University of Minnesota
- Resources Center Page The resources page provides links to the Center's Summaries & Overviews (topics included are: human stem cells, organ transplantation, distributing limited health care resources, resuscitation decisions, end of life care, research ethics, and new frontiers in genetic testing and screening); suggested readings and related sites on animal research, end of life care, organ transplants, reproductive technologies, research ethics, and stem cells.
This page links to the full text of three different publications by the Center: Bioethics Examiner, Ethics Matters (May 1998-2002), and Overviews.
- Genethics.ca Topics
The web site provides list of agencies/organizations and literature on topics including genetic testing, patenting, DNA banking, gene therapy & engineering, stem cells, etc.
- International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR)
"[A]n independent, nonprofit organization formed in 2002 to foster the exchange of information on stem cell research." The web site provides general information about the society. It also includes the full text of the monthly "ISSCR Newsletter" (2002- ) which collects worldwide news on stem cell research as well as highlights of recent literature on the topic.
- Organizations Address Book (HumGen)
(browse or search)
- Bioethics Organizations (Natioanl Reference Center for Bioethics Literature)
Includes foreign and international organizations.
Academic Centers / Research Institutes
- Joseph and Rose Kennedy Institute of Ethics (Georgetown University)
- Center for Clinical Bioethics (Georgetown University)
- Center of Bioethics (University of Pennsylvania)
- The Phoebe R. Berman Bioethics Institute (The Johns Hopkins University)
- Center of Bioethics, University of Minnesota
- Center of Bioethics (Columbia University)
- Hastings Center (an independent, nonpartisan, non-profit Bioethics research institute)
Professional Associations/Other Organizations
- ABA Health Law Section
- American Medical Association
The Ethics Section links to the Council on Ethics and Judicial Affairs which links to Principles of Medical Ethics and the CEJA opinions and reports; the Ethics Resource Center; and the Institute of Ethics. The Association publishes the biennial Code of Medical Ethics: Current Opinions with Annotations which publishes the Principles of Medical Ethics and opinions.
- American Society for Bioethics and Humanities (ASBH)
The web site provides general information about the Society. It also includes "Publishing Without Perishing: A Handbook for Graduate and Professional Students on Publishing in Bioethics and the Medical Humanities," published by Society for Health and Human Values" which gives useful advices on getting published, and include a list of journals and other resources. The web site also provides an extensive list of links to bioethics-related web sites, including academic centers and programs.
- American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA)
- American Society of Law, Medicine & Ethics
- American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
- American Nurses Association
- Canadian Bioethics Society
- World Health Organization Ethics & Health Page
Updated 8/13 (MK)
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