Head of Information Services Mark Hakkarinen recently contributed to a guest post on the Journal of Medical Ethics blog that focused on his recent paper, “Highlights in bioethics through 40 years: a quantitative analysis of top-cited journal articles.” Joined by co-author Dr. Pingyue Jin, Hakkarinen is featured in a dialogue on the changing face of the bioethics field.
The original article details the findings of a a quantitative analysis of the top-cited articles in bioethical journals over the past 40 years. The authors conclude that “the forefront of bioethics is getting more diversified, collaborative and international. The presumed ‘mainstream’ is becoming less dominant over time, as more highly cited articles come from new subfields, discuss new topics, use more … keywords, [and] more authors participate and more countries other than the USA contribute to bioethics journals.”
On inspiration for their co-authored paper, Jin said: “Around May 2015, I found this webpage “Top 50 Bioethics Journals and Top 240 Most Cited Bioethics Articles Published Since 2009”, and I thought to myself: “What a fantastic idea! I wish I could have started with these papers when I first came to this field.” These papers ultimately led him to reaching out to work on a project with Hakkarinen, which led to the development of what the pair boldy refer to as the “highlights of bioethics.”
On where the field is going, Hakkarinen said: “We all agree that bioethics is an academic field full of diversity and vitality, but it seems that we haven’t reached a consensus about how to define it accurately with objective criteria…Perhaps bioethics is best seen as a way of looking at a field with an ethical lens.” Jin agreed, writing, “True. But still, I wish we could find some consensus criteria to define the field properly.”
In an effort to move on this goal, the pair are considering sending out queries to journal editors and bioethics scholars: how do they approach the question of “what is (good) bioethics?” Any suggestions or thoughts can be sent to Hakkarinen or Jin.
Hakkarinen’s work in this area carries on the decades-long legacy of the Institute’s Bioethics Research Library, which he leads. Since its founding in the 1970s, the Library has led the field in its work of defining, indexing, and making accessible an ever-growing body of bioethics resources.