Search Tips for Collaboration Databases and Communities

Collaborative databases and research portals are a remarkable and growing resource for the scholarly bioethics community. Our staff have put together the following search tips for making the most of four of the most popular of these: BELIT, EthicShare,, and GEObS.

Bioethics Literature Database (BELIT)

BELIT contains literature on bioethics and medical ethics as well as on environmental ethics, animal ethics, research ethics and applied ethics. The collection also features publications in philosophy, theology and jurisprudence.

Key Search tip:

In the Advanced Search screen, utilize the multilingual bioethics thesaurus to focus your search by selecting subject keywords to use in the “Subject Keywords” field.

About BELIT:

Responsible for Content: BELIT is coordinated by the German Reference Centre for Ethics in the Life Sciences (DRZE) (Bonn, Germany), an information center covering the entire field of ethics in the biomedical sciences.

DRZE’s cooperation partners are:

1.      IDEM: Information and Documentation Centre on Ethics in Medicine (IDEM), Academy for Ethics in Medicine (AEM) in Göttingen., Germany — database ETHMED containing references to literature available at the specialist library and documentation center (location code: IDEM.)

2.      IZEW: The International Centre for Ethics in the Sciences and Humanities (IZEW), University of Tübingen — database LEWI containing the catalogues of the IZEW library and the library of the Chair for Ethics in the Life Sciences at the University of Tübingen (location code: IZEW and IZEW-LEB.)

3.      KIE:  Bioethics Research Library at Georgetown University — database ETHXWeb has comprehensive coverage from 1974 to 2009, with additional citations through 2011 (location code: KIE.)

4.      CDE: The Centre de documentation en éthique (CDE) at the Comité consultatif national d’éthique (CCNE) in Paris  — database of the specialist library and documentation centre (location code: CDE.)

Date Range: Most items are from 1950 to the present, with some older items dating to the late 1800’s.

Languages: German, French and English.

Type of materials covered: Monographs, reference works, journals, newspaper articles, legal documents, and grey literature (e.g. ethical codes, directives, statements, theses, research reports, surveys, proceedings, and parliamentary publications).

Tutorials: None.

Free Y/N: Yes.

Download to citation manager?  No, must save the results as a text file.

Saved search/email updates?  No.

Special features: Searching BELIT is facilitated by the implementation of an English/German/French Bioethics Thesaurus.

Data Alert: CDE (Centre de documentation en éthique) data is from 1970 to 2009.  KIE (Kennedy Institute of Ethics) data is from 1975 to 2009.


EthicShare is a database created by the bioethics community. Maintained by the University of Minnesota Center for Bioethics and the University of Minnesota Libraries, users can suggest citations and community keywords for EthicShare.

Key Search tip:

Limit a search of a general bioethical issue to EthicShare (community) keywords.

About EthicShare

Responsible for Content: EthicShare Project Team from the University of Minnesota Center for Bioethics and the University of Minnesota Libraries.

Focus: Bioethics, with an emphasis on cooperative database production.

Date Range: Most citations are from 1985 – present, with historical coverage to 1723.

Languages: English.

Type of materials covered: Journal articles, editorials, legal cases, monographs, newspaper articles, book reviews, interviews, case reports, blog postings, books, and government documents from around the world.

Tutorials: No; Help Topics:

Free: Yes.

Download to citation manager? Yes: EndNote, RefWorks, Zotero

Saved search/email updates? Yes.

Special Features:

  • Users are encouraged to submit citations to the EthicShare staff for inclusion in the database.
  • Registered users can add event information, job postings, and calls for papers.
  • Community keywords are suggested by users.

Data Alert: Blog postings are not retrieved when searching.

Global Digital Library on Ethics– is a global network of persons and institutions interested in various fields of applied ethics. It offers access to a large number of resources on ethics, especially through its leading global digital ethics library and facilitates collaborative web-based research, conferences, online publishing and information sharing.

Key Search tip:

In the advanced search, limit a search to the contributing country.


Responsible for Content: Produced by a global network of ethicists and ethics institutions, was organized at the 2003 World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), a UNESCO meeting held in Paris each year.

Focus: To provide digital access to the ethics literature so that those in developing and transition economies can participate in the global ethics conversation.

Date Range: 2008 to present, with retrospective coverage back to 1750.

Languages: The search interface is available in: German, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin, and Russian.  Digital documents are available in 265 languages.

Type of materials covered: Monographs, journal articles, archival materials, and conference/meeting proceedings.

Tutorials: No.

Free: Yes; document access requires free registration.

Download to citation manager? No.

Saved search/email updates?  No.

Special Features: Searches can be limited to the Global Digital Library on Theology and Ecumenism ( Globethics is a partner with the African Online Library on Law and Governance (African Law Library:

Global Ethics Observatory (GEObs)

The Global Ethics Observatory is a system of databases with worldwide coverage in bioethics and other areas of applied ethics in science and technology such as environmental ethics, science ethics, and technology ethics.

Key Search tip:

Use the “Interactive Geographical Search” to retrieve a list by country of bioethics experts, institutions, teaching programs, legislation/guidelines, codes of conduct and local resources.

About GEObs

Responsible for Content: UNESCO Social and Human Sciences Sector.

Focus: International bioethics information.

Date Range: 2005 – present.

Languages: English, French, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, Chinese.

Type of information covered: Ethics experts, institutions, teaching programs, legislation, codes of conduct, and resources.

Tutorials: No.

Free Y/N: Yes.

Download to citation manager? No.

Saved search/email updates? No.

Special features: An “Interactive Geographical Search” of all data for a country or a region.

Data Alert:  Information is submitted voluntarily and may not be updated.