Thursday, July 10, 2014

Summer update on various projects

Apologies to everyone checking in every now and then regarding new posts. I have stopped writing my weekly column for the Kingston Whig-Standard, mostly because management changes meant my weekly weekend spiel became a whenever spiel. Their prerogative, didn't work for me tho, so I quit. Still, you can see that once the pressure is gone to produce toward the end of the week your 750-1000 word text for public consumption, the odds are you won't (not while the World Cup is on anyway). 

That being said, I have not been entirely lazy either. I produced a piece on assisted dying in Canada for a Canadian journal. Also completed a piece for a US medical journal defending infanticide for certain cases of very severely disabled newborns. A lengthy piece I wrote with Erik Zhang on obesity ethics is stuck in the review process of an unnamed journal in another part of the world. Will see what comes of that one. What else, oh yes, right, I also wrote a paper for a US bioethics journal that I promised I would not write again for. It's part of my let bygones be bygones exercise. They invited me kindly to write on a topic that has remained dear to my heart ever since I worked on this in my doctoral thesis about 2000 years ago, namely the issue of providing access to investigational new agents to people suffering from catastrophic illnesses. It's a topic that pops back up in bioethics papers every few years. I'm glad it's not dead, because there's serious work to be done, certainly on the regulatory frontiers.

I am currently sitting with Suzanne van de Vathorst on a paper discussing treatment resistant major depressive disorder and assisted dying. That's it on the articles' frontiers. 

I have complete work on the significantly revamped 3rd edition of Bioethics - An Anthology that I am jointly producing with Helga Kuhse and Peter Singer. New sections, new content, new section introductions, you name it, we did it. It's all off to the publisher, and they've begun a few weeks back gathering those precious reprint permits. Wiley assumes it should be out by August 2015. Buy it so that I can buy a bigger house! Just kidding :).

I have been a laggard on two other book projects, I should have delivered This is Bioethics by about this time to Wiley but I told them we'd be done with it closer to the end of the year. Ruth Chadwick, my friend and colleague at the helm of Bioethics (the journal), has agreed to jointly author the book with me. We agreed about two weeks ago on the 'who does which chapters' and writing continues in all earnest. The good news, I'm a a bit ahead of her, having done major chunks already.

Not so well fared another project, also for Wiley, Global Health Ethics that I am to produce with Christopher Lowry. We are well behind (well, I am), but we'll be getting there once This is Bioethics is out of the way.

Meanwhile at Bioethics, the journal is happily ticking along. All sorts of upheaval at the publisher's end, new editor at their end, production editor's responsibility shifted from the publisher's Singapore office to its Manila office, but truth be told, this has close to no impact on our operations. We have exciting special issues lined up, so stay tuned for more to come. Which reminds me, I need to do an editorial by the end of August for our October issue. Topics galore I suppose. At Developing World Bioethics  we are doing very well, too, thank you very much. If anything, we're struggling with our page budget. By now we got a 2 year back-log from acceptance to print, which is really not good enough. The only reassuring thing is that we also offer Early View publication with fixed doi number for your article, so accepted content gets published for all academic intent and purposes within weeks of acceptance, it's just that there's a wait for getting the content eventually into a print issue. It looks to me as if print-copy is on its way out for our journals, given that most people these days access the journal on-line only. Good for the environment, not so good for me, I love print-copy. 

Last but not least, at the time of writing there has been a bit of a storm-in-a-teacup about an experiment researchers did over at Facebook, and had the tenacity to publish in the PNAS. Some of my colleagues (you know which ones, those that always are on the ready when the papers, TV etc call, even more on the ready than I am - do they ever sleep?) went on a rhetorical rampage condemning the trial, there's talk of Tuskegee and Mengele, egregious wrong doing, ethical misconduct and so it went. Well, I think they got it terribly wrong, and with a bunch of other bioethicists we drafted a public response that we're hoping to place soon. I will post more on this when it's out. 


  1. "I think they got it terribly wrong....

    Ah. Will look forward to your comments. Although I'm personally uncomfortable with what was done, I feel that much of the comment had been ... well, overheated. My guess is that some of this may be related to ongoing suspicions by some of just about anything that Facebook/Google/etc. do.

  2. Dugald CarmichaelJuly 14, 2014

    Sorry to hear you have quit writing for Kingston's only local daily newspaper. I appreciated most of what you wrote. Would like to have commented on "Canada leaning pro-choice?" (June 16), but seems you have chosen not to post it here.