Bioethics Issues

IC Library Book & Media Resources

Recommended Subject Searches

Human genetics--Moral and ethical aspects
Human genetics--Philosophy
Human genetics--Social aspects
Human Genome Project
Gene therapy
Gene therapy--Congresses
Gene therapy--Moral and ethical aspects
Genetic counseling
Genetic counseling--Moral and ethical aspects
Genetic disorders--Research--Moral and ethical aspects
Genetic screening  [genetic testing]
Genetic screening--Moral and ethical aspects

Human reproductive technology
Prenatal Diagnosis  [prenatal screening]


Not in the IC Library??

     WorldCat via FirstSearch  is a "union catalog" that allows you to search the holdings of over 10,000 libraries from accross the country and around the world. Check WorldCat to discover what the entire universe of possible resources looks like for your topic. 
User Advisory:
  • Because this is such an enormous database you need to choose a "Limit Type to" before you begin. Most commonly you will be looking for "Books," "Visual Materials" (for example DVDs), or "Sound Recordings."
  • I recommend you avoid the "Author phrase," "Title phrase," and "Subject phrase" search fields and use "Author," "Title," or "Subject" instead. The "phrase" searches must be exact and are unforgiving.
  • If your topic is time-sensitive, try focusing on a recent time span under Year.
  • When you find an item you want you can request an interlibrary loan by opening the WorldCat record and clicking on "ILL (order via interlibrary loan)," which you'll find toward the top of the record under "External Resources." This will connect you to Ithaca College Library interlibrary loan, where you log in using your usual Netpass name and password. Logging in opens a form where all the identifying data will have automatically been transferred from the WorldCat record. All you have to do is click "Submit."

IC Library Databases (Articles)

Recommended Databases (Articles)

     General OneFile : is the most user-friendly of our comprehensive databases, covering almost any topic from a wide range of disciplinary angles and offering lots of full text.  Use the default Subject search to find the best subject heading for your topic (and when you find a good one be sure to look at the "Related Subjects" to see if there's something even better).
     "Bioethics" and "Medical Ethics" are both available as Subjects here. For a more specific issue, run a Subject search on your topic. Be sure to use the “Subdivisions” for focus, including “Ethical Aspects,” “Forecasts and Trends,” “Political Aspects,” "Religious Aspects," and “Social Aspects.”
      If the best available subdivision is still too broad, open it and add your own Keywords in the "Search within these results" slot at the upper left.

     ProQuest Research Library : is another comprehensive database with substantial full text.  Use the "Thesaurus" (above the search slots) to preview what Subject Headings are available.  Subect searching can be a more efficient way to search than with only Keywords, since it guarantees that the articles retrieved actually be 
about the Subject--not just use a particular word. 
     "Bioethics" and "Medical Ethics" are both available as Subjects here. For a more specific issue, first try your topic as a Subject, adding “Ethics” as a second Subject Heading. For example, in the Subject slot enter--Cloning and Ethics. If the Subject approach doesn’t work, enter your topic in one of the Keyword slots at the top and in another enter--ethic* or moral* (the * is a truncation symbol: for example ethic* will retrieve ethic, ethics, ethical, and ethically). 

      Academic Search Premier  Comprehensive subject coverage with considerable full text.  Note that there is a “Subject Terms” link just above the search boxes, allowing you to search the index of Subject Headings--often a good first stop for more efficient Subject searching whereby you are guaranteed that your topic is indeed a main subject of the articles retrieved.
     A good initial strategy in this database is to search a likely topic in the Subject Terms and when you find it “explode” the term by double clicking it--this brings up a list of related Subject terms.  You can check as many terms as you like before "adding" them to your search by AND-ing or OR-ing them together.
     You'll find a Subject for most bioethical topics here, from Bioethics in general  to specific issues such as Assisted Suicide, Genetically Modified Foods, or Doping in Sports.

     SocINDEX with Full Text : As the name implies, an excellent database for social issues. Click on the "Subject Terms" link above the search slots to find which Subject Headings will work here. Double click any Heading for a list of broader, narower, and related Subject Terms.  And note that you can check the boxes to select as many Headings as you like and then "add to search using or" and run the search--all without even retyping the terms back on the home page.
     Available Subjects include "Genetic Engineering," "Animal experimentation," and "Medication abuse."

     ScienceDirect : Because it’s a large database with a great deal of full text, the absence of Subject searching means that your Keyword searches will often retrieve large sets of articles, many of which mention but don’t discuss your search term(s). One way around this is to limit your initial search to the “Abstract Title Keyword” field. Once you have found an article that sounds on-target, click the “Related Articles” link beneath the citation This will open a range of articles on the same topic.

     Adding--ethic* or moral*-- to your search will help focus on the articles that are concerned with the ethics of the topic (* is a truncation symbol and ethic* will retrieve ethic, ethics, ethical, and ethically).
     User Advisory: Uncheck "All books"--we don't have access to the full text.And if you open the "Dates" drop-down menu you'll find a much wider range of options than the default 10 year span.

     CINAHL  is a health literature database with excellent resources and a very helpful search interface--if you know how to approach it. Whatever your topic, first find the "CINAHL Headings" for it--the link is at the top left. When you've found the right heading--whether Alzheimer's Disease, Obesity, or Doping in Sports--click on "Explode" to the right for a list of subheadings--among them Diagnosis, Drug Therapy, Ethical Issues, Prevention, Prognosis, Risk factors, Therapy, and Transmission. By ticking any of these boxes you can add them to the main Subject search, which you can then run by clicking "Search Database" at the top right. 

    JSTOR : covers a wide range of scholarly journals in most disciiplines, always beginning with the first issue of each one.  This provides 100% full text access to articles from not only the first half of the 20th century but even the second half of the 19th.  But even for "current" topics like "human cloning" or "morning after pill" or "global warming," you will find many articles here.  And for certain bioethical topics such as Eugenics and Birth Control you can target articles from the late 19th and early 20th centuries--just set a “Date Range.” 
User Advisory: The academic journals covered here feature numerous book reviews, so it's a good idea to tic the "Article" limit below the search slots so you won't be overwhelmed by book reviews on your topic.  

     ATLA religion database with ATLASerials : Our religion and theology database.  To browse the Subject Headings available here, click on "Indexes" above the search slots  and select "Subjects ALL"  from the drop-down menu.  Use this Subject browse to identify topics such as “Genetic Engineering,” “Assisted Suicide,” or “Stem Cells.”

     Philosopher's Index : The ethical perspective can be taken for granted here, so just use Subject Headings—called Descriptors—such as “Stem cell,” “Cloning,” “Transplantation,” “Organ donation,” “Euthanasia,” etc.

     PsycINFO :  The American Psychological Association use their own Subject vocabulary (called "Descriptors"), so a visit to the "Thesaurus" below the search slots is a good idea. If you find an article on exactly what you want, be sure to check the assigned "Descriptors" on the right of the citation for more ideas about useful search terms.  Among the bioethical descriptors available here are "Health Care Policy," "Cloning," and "Assisted Suicide."

     LexisNexis Academic  
News:  Offering a keyword search of 100% full text from a vast number of national and international newspapers, this is an easy database to use poorly and a bit tricky to use well. In order not to be overwhelmed with articles in which your search terms are mentioned anywhere—first or last paragraph—or any number of times—once or ten times—use commands to target articles in which your topic words are mentioned early or mentioned often.
     Use the hlead command (headline and lead paragraphs) to target articles in which your topic words occur in the prime news-story position of headline or first paragraphs. For example: hlead(fracking and pollution) will retrieve just the articles in which the words “fracking” and “pollution” are used in the headline or first paragraphs. Note: the term or terms to which you want this command to apply must be put in parentheses after hlead, with no space between.
     Use the altleast command to target articles in which your topic words occur a set number of times. For example: atleast5(“gay marriage”) will retrieve only the articles where this phrase is used at least 5 times—indicating that it must be a main topic. You can plug in any number after atleast—atleast3 or atleast7. Note: the term or terms to which you want this command to apply must be put in parentheses with no space between the number you choose and the first parenthesis.

     LexisNexis Academic  
Law Reviews: Offering a keyword search of 100% full text law reviews (publishers of scholarly articles on legal issues), this is an easy database to use poorly and a bit tricky to use well. In order not to be overwhelmed by articles in which your search terms are mentioned in passing but are not the prime focus, use the atleast command to target articles in which your topic words are required to appear at least a certain number of times. For example, atleast5(“gun control”) or atleast7(genes and patents) will retrieve only the articles in which those terms are used repeatedly. Note: the term or terms to which you want this command to apply must be put in parentheses with no space between the number you choose and the first parenthesis.

     CQ Researcher  is a weekly publication from Congressional Quarterly. Each report (approx. 20 pages) examines a single issue relevant to American public policy, including health, criminal justice, internaional affairs, education, the environment, technology, and the economy. The non-partisan analysis always includes a "Background," "Current Situation," "Outlook," and "Pro/Con" section, as well as numerous charts and graphs of statistical data, maps, and a bibliography for further reading.

Note the "Issue Tracker" and "Pro/Con" browsers on the left of the home page: these provide an excellent way to find or brainstorm a topic.
     In just the last year CQ Researcher has devoted issues to "Medication Abuse," "Health Care Reform," "Energy and Climate," "Legalizing Marijuana," "Reproductive Ethics," "Regulating Toxic Chemicals," and "Confronting Warming."

Where's the Full Text for this Article??

     Few databases offer 100% full text.  Most retrieve a mix of full text articles and article "citations"--article title, author(s), publication info, and usually an "abstract" or one-prargraph summary of the content.  When a citation makes you want the full text, look below it for this icon: 
     Clicking "GETIT" checks (almost all) the IC Library's other databases to see if any offers the full text of the article--or if the Library has a print subscription to the journal in which the article appeared. 
  • "GETIT" will usually find the full text in another database and open it in a new window.  
  • If none of our databases can access the full text but we have a print subsciption to the journal, "GETIT" will retrieve the Library catalog record for the journal so that you can see if the date of the article falls within the date range we have on hand.
  • If full text is not available from any database or from a print subsciption, "GETIT" will provide a link to the IC Library's Interlibrary Loan.  Log in (same as your IC e-mail)--and set up your account if you've never used it before.  "GETIT" will have populated the article request form with all the necessary information and you simply submit the request elecrtonically.  Most articles are supplied as digital files and will be sent to you via e-mail when they arrive.

Contact Us

picture of Lisabeth Chabot

Lisabeth Chabot

College Librarian
(607) 274-3182

Search Argos

Web Resources

Recommended Web Sites

Bioethics Resources on the Web:  From the National Institutes of health (NIH), this is an excellent gateway to bioethics resources.  Note the "Specific Topics" button on the left. Web site of the American Journal of Bioethics.  A good deal of bioethics news and free access to some of the journal content.  Also note the "Bioethics Portal" on the bottom right--a topical gateway to online resources.
Intute: Bioethics Web: Intute is an outstanding U.K gateway to authoritative, international Web resources.  You can enter a keyword search of the BioethicsWeb or browse the Subject categories on the lower left.
Applied Ethics Resources on World Wide Web: A broad ethics gateway, but with excellent bioethics links under "Health Care Ethics," "Research Ethics," "Science & Technology Ethics," and "Animal Welfare Ethics."
Bioethics Research at The Hastings Center: The Hastings Center is a leading bioethics research institute, offering many linked resources.  See "Selected Issues" along the left margin.
Bioethics Forum: This is the journal of the Hastings Center (see above).  The "Articles by Subject" link at the top is especially helpful.
Bioethic Topics: From the University of Washington School of Medicine.  Good essays on a range of topics, with case-based analysis.
Center for Bioethics: From the University of Minnesota.  Look for resources under 'Publications" and "In the Media" on the left. Under "Publications" see "Bioethics Overviews," "Faculty Articles," and "Ethicsmatters Columns."
Public Policy Issues: from Vanderbilt University, offers good links for abortion, animal rights, assisted suicide, cloning and genetics, environment, global warming, health care, prescription drug policy, renewable energy, and stem cell research.
Berman Institute of Bioethics: At Johns Hopkins.  The best resources are under the "Media Center" at the top.  Look at the articles under "Bioethics Newsletters" and the audio/video presentations under "Multimedia Room."  Also note "How to Research Bioethics Literature."  Finally take a look at the "Helpful Links" gateway to other online resources.
Bioethics: Bioethics Resources.  From the Center for Bioethics at Columbia University, look especially at the links under "Specific Topics."
Ethics Updates: From the University of San Diego.  Under "Applied Ethics" there are several bioethics categories, each linking to excellent resources that include articles, case studies, and multi-media presentations.

Public Agenda: A non-partisan organization dedicated to informing citizens about public policy issues and government officials about public opinion.  Mouse over "Issue Guides" and "Research Studies" for drop-down menus of topics.  "Issue Guides" include Environment, Health Care, Medical Research, and Right to Die.

A Sociological Tour Through Cyberspace: Health Statistics: Gateway of annotated links by Web sociologist extraordinaire, Dr. Michael Kearl.

FedStats: The United States government provides the raw data and statistics used in much social science research and public policy debate, so why not sample it yourself. FedStats is a good gateway and the “Topic Links A-Z” is a particularly helpful means of accessing this information.

Web Directories

     Web Directories differ from search engines like Google in that all the online resources have been selected and annotated by editors, thereby promising a much higher degree of quality control.  

Think Tanks & Research Institutes

Think Tanks & Research Institutes: A short collection of Web resources that can access these often influential contributions to public policy debate. 

The Political Web

     In searching the Web you may find research and policy recommendations published by "think tanks," many of which have political/ideological affiliations.  An organization called SourceWatch can help you identify such ties and alert you to any political agenda the research was intended to serve.
      If you wish to see how your topic is discussed at conservative and liberal think tanks, here are some online sites that discuss a wide range of social--and bioethical--issues.


Citation Help

MLA Citation

MLA is the citation style used by most disciplines in the Humanities. Here is my guide to the latest (2016) update of the MLA style.