Sunday, June 26, 2011


The journals
We got our annual report from our publisher a few days ago. Much of the stuff there is confidential, of course (and would likely bore you, too). However, there's bits and pieces of statistics that you might find interesting. In case you don't know the journals, or don't know them well, Bioethics is now in its 25th year of existence. It publishes 9 issues per calendar year. Developing World Bioethics is now in its 11th year of existence. It publishes 3 issues per calendar year. The journals come in a package, so what it boils down to is a monthly publication schedule. Bioethics is also the official publication of the International Association of Bioethics. This essentially entails us publishing every two years a special issue with the best contents form the IAB Congress, as well as us offering deeply discounted subscriptions to paid-up members of the IAB. We continue to sponsor events held during the IAB Congress every two years. Recently we have also provided sponsorship to a postgraduate bioethics conference held in the UK.

Our reach and academic success
We have been able to increase the reach of both journals quite significantly in 2010. The journals are available in about 3,500 university libraries by regular subscriptions. A further 6,000 libraries in developing countries have access to the journal at this point in time. I should like to add that this - to my mind - puts to rest claims about the unavailability of our academic content in the developing world due to high subscription fees. A further 5,200 libraries worldwide are able to access our content a year after it has been published.  So, in total, slightly less than 15,000 libraries across the globe provide access to our content.

This wide availability has also resulted in another significant boost to article downloads from our journals. In total about 250,000 articles from both journals were downloaded in 2010.

The European Science Foundation has given Bioethics the highest ranking available in the philosophy category.

Our upcoming content
Ruth Chadwick, Bioethics' other Editor, and I have lined up a whole range of interesting special issues over the next few years, covering topics all the way from synthetic organisms to ageing.  In case you're one of our readers, give us a shout with suggestions for special issue topics. We are always keen to hear from you!

Publication ethics
On the publication ethics fronts, we have introduced extensive regulations on authorship and conflict of interest matters that we hope will keep us out of the firing line on these issues for the foreseeable future.

Editorial board, bias and peer review
Last but not least, following our most recent review, invitations will be going out to a few academics to join our Editorial Board. Funny enough, that should also put to rest any suspicions that you might have with regard to editorial bias. Of the new members on the Editorial Board of the journal two are colleagues with whom I had quite serious professional conflict in the distant and in the very recent past, respectively. None of that made any difference to our decision to appoint to our Editorial Board. What matters crucially are competence and reliability. Reliability of reviewers is becoming sadly an ever bigger challenge. You would expect that academics who themselves publish academic contents in academic journals would be willing to review colleagues' academic content (the golden rule and all that jazz). The truth is though that that is becoming ever more difficult. All too often the most experienced peer reviewers decline and editors have to move lower down the list of experienced and knowledgable academics. The same authors, in other words, who would be all too keen to have their paper reviewed by a top academic like themselves are all too often not prepared to provide a similar courtesy in return when they are being asked to review academic content. This is quite disappointing, but equally, until university administrations and research funders give credit to academics for providing such services to the academic community, it is understandable that individual academics vote for working on their own paper rather than reviewing someone else's paper. All I can say is that some academics are paradigms of how a professional should act in this context and others are paradigms of the how-not-to. The former probably do not know how grateful we really are to them, as journal editors, for their services.


  1. AnonymousJune 26, 2011

    Having had my own material turned down by "Bioethics," it no longer seems appropriate for me to review papers for the journal. If my work is not good enough for the journal (apparently), I don't think I should be considered good enough to review for it.

  2. Dear Anonymous,

    I have had papers rejected by journals. It's never a particularly nice experience, but the rejection of a manuscript in its own right tells us nothing at all about the suitability of a given colleague with re to the reviewing of particular manuscripts. I am still asked by journals that rejected my content to review papers for them. I tend to oblige them if I agree with the editors that I would be a good choice to review particular manuscripts for them.


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