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Topic: Scholarly Publication in Bioethics
January 2, 2014 | Posted By John Kaplan, PhD

In the good old days when I spent most of my time as a practicing biomedical research scientist it was pretty clear to me what qualified as a scholarly communication. Such communications consisted of submissions of presentations to meetings of scholarly academic societies; submissions and presentations of original research to journals; presenting seminars; and writing the occasional review articles, book chapters, or even books. Now that I spend much of my time as a bioethicist it is no longer so clear to me. It is probably important to note that the uncertainty I feel about this is probably only partly attributable to the difference in discipline and may indeed be primarily due to the emergence of our modern-day online communications including the blogging and social media culture.

The communication you are reading now is a blog, only a blog, not a scholarly communication. Al least I am pretty sure that is the case. I cite no evidence. I reference lightly if at all. I write what I want. I am merely expressing my opinions. I am not really accountable to anyone for what I say here. I can write it in minutes or hours, not weeks or months. This all sounds to me that this is not a scholarly publication. Yet I have read in both blogs and on social media such as facebook and twitter people raising questions about the distinction. (Please note that I did not reference my statement, further evidence that this is not a scholarly publication.) I have seen questions which ask how are blogs and scholarly writings different if indeed they are different. I have seen writers ask if blogs should be included in one’s Curriculum Vita as a publication. Please note that this will not be posted in my Curriculum Vita because it is, again, only a blog.

The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers a Master of Science in Bioethics, a Doctorate of Professional Studies in Bioethics, and Graduate Certificates in Clinical Ethics and Clinical Ethics Consultation. For more information on AMBI's online graduate programs, please visit our website.

September 5, 2012 | Posted By John Kaplan, PhD

I have not been identified as a bioethicist for most of my career. I am a scientist. I trained in physiology and also worked in the realms of biochemistry and cell biology. Just like others in the disciplines a big part of my job was research and to be successful it was necessary to publish my findings. One of the determinations I needed to make on a regular basis was which journals did I submit my work to for consideration of publication. Early in my career as a doctoral student and later postdoctoral fellow and as a young faculty member in physiology there was an obvious choice, the American Journal of Physiology. This journal was highly regarded, had rigorous editorial standards, and publication in this journal was prestigious providing me an advantage in career advancement in my field and, importantly, competing for grant support to continue my work. As my career progressed I continued to seek to publish in high profile biomedical science journals and was pleased to be published in top-tier journals in biochemistry, hematology and immunology.

The journals I referred to above all had something in common. All of these journals were operated by the scholarly professional society representing the respective disciplines (e.g. the American Journal of Physiology was published under the auspices of the American Physiological Society).This society sponsored journal format had important implications for quality, standards, and operations. Most important it assured that editorial standards and criteria corresponded to the consensus standards of community. Moreover they were all run as non- profit entities. 

The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers a Master of Science in Bioethics, a Doctorate of Professional Studies in Bioethics, and Graduate Certificates in Clinical Ethics and Clinical Ethics Consultation. For more information on AMBI's online graduate programs, please visit our website.

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BIOETHICS TODAY is the blog of the Alden March Bioethics Institute, presenting topical and timely commentary on issues, trends, and breaking news in the broad arena of bioethics. BIOETHICS TODAY presents interviews, opinion pieces, and ongoing articles on health care policy, end-of-life decision making, emerging issues in genetics and genomics, procreative liberty and reproductive health, ethics in clinical trials, medicine and the media, distributive justice and health care delivery in developing nations, and the intersection of environmental conservation and bioethics.
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