Bibliography of Bioethics

The Bibliography of Bioethics was an annual index containing approximately 6,000 new citations to documents in the bioethics area. Published each year from 1975 to 2009, the bibliography was derived from bioethics citations added to the NLM databases. It provided the most comprehensive access to literature about the ethical, legal, and public policy aspects of health care and biomedical research.

Volumes 1-6 were published by Gale Research Company; 7-9 by Free Press/Macmillan; and 10-35 by the Kennedy Institute of Ethics, Georgetown University. The Bibliography, arranged alphabetically by major issues in bioethics, remains a specialized, authoritative, unified source of bibliographic data for the field covering the years 1975 through 2009. Abstracts of selected citations were included in the series. An especially informative feature was the inclusion of keywords from the unique Bioethics Thesaurus, as well as other descriptors (court decision names, geographic indicators, etc.) related to the subject matter of any particular document.

The compilation of the Bibliography, under the editorial direction of LeRoy Walters, Ph.D. throughout its publication, was indirectly supported by a series of grants and contracts from the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Its compilation ceased in 2010 with the conclusion of that support.


The Bioethics Research Library is planning to digitize and make freely available the Bibliography of Bioethics series to commemorate the series and support the mission of disseminating knowledge and reference resources in the field of Bioethics. Volumes 31 – 35 are now available as a PDF for individual researchers on Digital Georgetown here.


Bibliography of Bioethics, Volume 35, 2009; 8,195 citations; 850 p. Published September 2009.

A focused reference resource covering bioethics literature, the Bibliography of Bioethics is organized by concept to provide an annual snapshot of discussion on a given topic. Volumes 28 through 35, each containing more citations than listed in earlier volumes, reflect both the growth of the field and the efforts of the Library to provide increased access. Volume 35 includes abstracts from selected periodicals as well as keyword indexing terms. Journal and newspaper articles, web documents, government reports, reports of international organizations, and book chapters appear in one subject entry section for periodicals, which is accompanied by an author index. Book/monograph literature is organized both by subject and by title.

The following pages are extracted from the Bibliography of Bioethics Vol. 35, 2009:


Excerpt from Bibliography of Bioethics 35

The Field of Bioethics
Bioethics can be defined as the systematic study of value questions that arise in health care
delivery and in biomedicine. Specific bioethical issues that have recently received national and international attention include euthanasia, assisted suicide, new reproductive technologies, cloning, human experimentation, genetic engineering, the neurosciences, abortion, informed consent, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), organ donation and transplantation, and managed care and other concerns in the allocation of health care resources.

As this list of topics suggests, the field of bioethics includes several dimensions. The first is the ethics of the professional patient relationship. Traditionally, the accent has been on the duties of health professionals–duties that, since the time of Hippocrates, have frequently been delineated in codes of professional ethics. In more recent times the rights of patients have also received considerable attention. Research ethics, the study of value problems in biomedical and behavioral research, constitutes a second dimension of bioethics. During the 20th century and the start of the 21st century, as both the volume and visible achievements of such research have increased, new questions have arisen concerning the investigator-subject relationship and the potential social impact of biomedical and behavioral research and technology. In recent years a third dimension of bioethics has emerged–the quest to develop reasonable public policy guidelines for both the delivery of health care and the allocation of health care resources, as well as for the conduct of research.

No single academic discipline is adequate to discuss these various dimensions of bioethics. For this reason bioethics has been, since its inception in the late 1960s, a cross-disciplinary field. The primary participants in the interdisciplinary discussion have been physicians and other health professionals, biologists, psychologists, sociologists, lawyers, historians, and philosophical and religious ethicists.

During the past thirty-five years there has been a rapid growth of academic, professional, and
public interest in the field of bioethics. One evidence of this interest is the establishment of numerous research institutes and teaching programs in bioethics, both in the United States and abroad. Professional societies, federal and state legislatures, and the courts have also turned increasing attention to problems in the field. In addition, there has been a veritable explosion of literature on bioethical issues.

The literature of bioethics appears in widely scattered sources and is reported in diverse indexes which employ a bewildering variety of subject headings. T his annual Bibliography is the product of a unique information retrieval system designed to identify the central issues of bioethics, to develop a subject classification scheme appropriate to the field, and to provide comprehensive, cross-disciplinary coverage of current English-language materials on bioethical topics.

Volume 35 of the Bibliography contains one year’s worth of the literature garnered by this
comprehensive information system. Specifically, it includes selected citations that were acquired in 2008 by two projects at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics: the National Reference Center for Bioethics Literature (NRCBL) and the National Information Resource on Ethics & Human Genetics (NIREHG).