About EthicShare

EthicShare is a research and collaboration website designed to help you do research, share, collaborate, and participate in the field of ethics. It was originally conceptualized and developed at the University of Minnesota by the University of Minnesota Libraries, UMN Center for Bioethics and UMN Computer Science Department with funding from the Council on Library and Information Resources and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

EthicShare is currently maintained by the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics and the Welch Medical Library as a free service to the community.

You will find a comprehensive collection of ethics resources including searchable research materials, group discussions, current news articles, and upcoming events. EthicShare automatically adds new research materials regularly, but if you notice that something is missing you can help improve EthicShare by sharing citations, conference announcements and calls for papers as well as suggestions you think might improve EthicShare.

For more information on how to use EthicShare, please review our Help Topics.

For more information on EthicShare:


The early ideas for EthicShare project came about following a 2004 Scholarly Communications Institute hosted by the University of Virginia, faculty and librarians from several institutions. This group was engaged in the issues surrounding new online possibilities for discourse and exchange. This dialogue resulted in a proposal prepared by the University of Minnesota Center for Bioethics and the University Libraries, which was submitted to the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR).  The proposal sought support for the development of a prototype of EthicShare, a sustainable online research and collaboration environment for the practical ethics community.

The original partners in the University of Minnesota’s efforts—Georgetown University; Indiana University‐Bloomington; Indiana University‐Purdue University, Indianapolis; the University of Virginia— envisioned a multi‐phase effort, beginning with a foundational planning grant to specify the requirements for such an environment. Funding received from CLIR (with additional support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation) in late 2006 initiated a six‐month planning phase.

At the outset of the project, the EthicShare team crafted a framework for a virtual community for ethics scholars that encompassed high quality content and resources; effective access and discovery systems; mechanisms for collaboration and community engagement; and governance structures that support sustainable models of collection building, technological development, and community participation. This framework, created during the initial EthicShare Planning Phase (January 2007 through June 2007) and developed in response to systematic engagement with the community of ethics scholars, has guided the development process of EthicShare and is a potential model for other scholarly communities.

In January of 2008, after the successful submission of a new proposal to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, EthicShare began its eighteen month Pilot Implementation Phase to build both a collection of bibliographic references and a work space to allow researchers the ability to share, discuss and collaborate online.  The aggregation of bibliographic and reference data from disparate sources represents different scholarly perspectives and material types.  The social features that have been implemented allow scholars to discover and organize materials not only for themselves but also in collaboration with their peers.  In
this respect, EthicShare provides a test-bed for assessing and realizing the potential of collaborative social technologies employed within a humanities-based scholarly community. The production website launched in May of 2009.

A third phase of the EthicShare project began in November 2009 with an award of a 14-month implementation grant from the Mellon Foundation.  The EthicShare team expanded the system’s data model and functionality.

In 2016, the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics and Welch Medical Library began hosting EthicShare.

Partners and Support

The EthicShare project is generously funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.


Additional support provided by:

Governance Board Partners:

While based at the University of Minnesota, the project also had governance support from bioethics and practical ethics scholars at our partner institutions. These governance board members provided oversight and guidance to the project, while representing the disciplines that the project attempts to serve.

Resource Support:

The Bioethics Thesaurus, developed at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics' National Reference Center for Bioethics Literature, is being used in conjunction with the EthicShare Community Keywords feature with KIE's generous permission.

In addition, scholarly content and data has been harvested for EthicShare through our partnerships with the following providers:

Lastly, the OCLC WorldCat Registry is utilized to operate the library link service we provide on the site.

The support of all these individuals and organizations has been invaluable to the creation of EthicShare. Thank you!

Collection Overview

At the heart of EthicShare lies its collection of citations to high quality scholarly and popular materials, a freely available index of bibliographic data for EthicShare users. Access to these materials surfaced as a primary interest among the bioethics community early on in the investigative phase of the EthicShare project. The challenge of balancing our community of scholars’ interest in high quality materials with their needs for timely and comprehensive resource discovery has been a driving force for the site’s development.

(Access to the electronic full text of items, when available, in the EthicShare collection is currently provided in two ways: 1) links to freely available or appropriate-copy licensed full text copies and 2) through the “Find In a Library” button. For more information on how to access items from the collection, please visit the help page.)

The primary target for EthicShare collection acquisition is the field of bioethics and draws heavily on citations from the PubMed repository and from the OCLC WorldCat database. The collection consists of journal article records, editorials, legal cases, newspaper articles, book reviews, interviews, case reports, books, non‐US government documents, and more. Increasingly, we are also including popular newspaper and news magazine articles from a variety of sources, including the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.

The current database certainly represents a rich and important collection of bioethics articles and books, but we plan to extend the EthicShare collection model and deepen our coverage to include an even broader range of materials.  Other sources (both current and future) of bibliographic records include:

EthicShare also plans to further expand the collection into other areas of practical ethics including, but not limited to: business ethics, journalism ethics, human rights, and legal ethics as funding permits.

Contributions from users to EthicShare are also welcomed and encouraged. To submit bibliographic reference information to the EthicShare database, users can fill out a brief submission form with all the bibliographic details they have, or they may send an email to help@ethicshare.org.  EthicShare staff then attempt to locate a source for the reference and load the record into the database. This process is currently being enhanced and improved, and a new submission form should make it easier for users to submit materials including syllabi, book chapters, journal articles, and other items to the collection.

Collection Development Policy

EthicShare aims to collect materials from across the broad field of bioethics and related areas. Research literature is the primary focus of the collection’s development, along with appropriate supporting materials from places such as the news, government reports, and blogs. The EthicShare database consists of citation level data and, when possible, links to the freely available or appropriately licensed full text. Records for materials are harvested from a variety of sources for inclusion in the EthicShare database, including, but not limited to, PubMed, OCLC, and news sources.  EthicShare also welcomes contributions from users that fit the collection’s scope. To submit citation information to the EthicShare database, go to http://ethicshare.org/share.  In the future the EthicShare collection also aims to expand to include relevant materials such as syllabi, lectures, and conference proceedings and from resources such as OAISTER.ORG and JSTOR.

In order to harvest relevant, targeted bibliographic data from a variety of sources, we craft tailored search strategies for every data source. All search strategies cover the same range of subjects related to bioethics and closely related fields (however, each data provider requires different formats and configurations for back-end searching and harvesting).  The search strategies created for identifying content must fit the EthicShare user requirements for the collection: high quality, relevant, and accessible.  With these requirements in mind, we collect materials in all major topic areas of bioethics, with ongoing input from the user community.  Our strategies are also informed through consulting with relevant bioethics subject lists (e.g., the National Reference Center for Bioethics Literature’s Thesaurus).  The overall collection development policy has remained flexible, and the strategies have undergone multiple revisions as new data sources are added and the scope of the field evolves.

Major areas of the collection targeted by the search strategies currently include:

As they fall soundly within the policy outlined above, EthicShare collects and indexes the complete contents of the following bioethics journals:

Accountability in Research

 American Journal of

 American Journal of
Law & Medicine


 BMC Medical Ethics

 Cambridge Quarterly
of Healthcare Ethics

 Developing World

 Hastings Center

 Health Affairs

 Health Care Analysis

 HEC Forum

 Human Reproduction
and Genetic ethics


 JONAS Health Law
Ethics and Regulation

 Journal international
de bioethique

 Journal of Clinical

 Journal of Law,
Medicine, and Ethics

 Journal of Medical

 Journal of Medical

 Journal of Medicine
and Philosophy

 Kennedy Institute of
Ethics Journal

 Medical Humanities

 Medicine, Health
Care, and Philosophy

 Milbank Quarterly

 Morbidity and
Mortality Weekly Report

 Monash Bioethics

 Nature Reviews.


 Nursing Ethics

 Nursing Philosophy


 Organizational Ethics

 Patient Education and

 Philosophy, Ethics,
and Humanities in Medicine

 Politics and the Life

 Public Health Reports

 Revista de Derecho y
Genoma Humano

 Science and
Engineering Ethics

 Theoretical Medicine
and Bioethics

 Yale Journal of
Health Policy, Law, and Ethics

The EthicShare site seeks to serve a broad audience, including academics at colleges and universities, as well as educators and students at secondary and elementary schools. EthicShare is also a resource for health care professionals, policy makers, journalists, and bioethicists.  The collection has been developed with attempts to keep the needs of all of these users in mind.

Currently, the formats of the vast majority of EthicShare materials are journal articles, news articles, and books.  However, additional formats such as audio and visual files can and would be accepted, if they also meet the requirements in scope and quality outlined above.  EthicShare also collects items in all languages, although English language materials are predominate given the sources from which we collect.

Occasionally, items that fall outside of the scope of the EthicShare collection are harvested from our numerous sources.  This is the result of the EthicShare Collections Team’s decision to create search strategies that are more inclusive rather than risk creating strategies that exclude relevant materials.  In these cases, the EthicShare team reserves the right to remove items from the collection that are deemed to be of low quality or out of scope.  EthicShare users can also request that irrelevant materials be removed by sending the citation information or the url(s) to help@ethicshare.org.

With respect to intellectual property, copyright law, and licensing policy, EthicShare is in the process of developing procedures to determine the source and conditions of use for full text content added to EthicShare’s database, especially in the case of user‐contributed materials. We will also determine processes for implementation and removal of content when necessary, and calculate risk based on fair use precedents and principles of open access and advancing scholarship.

Technology Framework

EthicShare, built on open source software, is committed to developing an easy to use site that can be accessed by users around the world.

The overall technology framework supporting EthicShare is comprised of three core components. They are

  1. The ETL system (Extract, Transform, Load), which provides a mechanism for EthicShare to harvest data from disparate source providers
  2. The data schema which provides a framework for how data is aggregated, indexed, stored and accessed
  3. Drupal, the open source content management system, enhanced with the Apache Solr indexing and search engine, for search, retrieval, and presentation and use of the results.

Within this framework, EthicShare relies on both out‐of‐the‐box functionality and extensible tools that allow for additional, original code development. Currently, a variety of pre‐existing and newly developed tools for the EthicShare project allow scholars to discover, share, assign keywords, and comment upon scholarly research in ways that reflect the needs of the evolving scholarly practice.

The EthicShare development team has begun to engage the Drupal development community. We have implemented many Drupal modules that have been created and maintained by Drupal coders from around the world (such as the Views module and the Organic Groups module). The EthicShare development team has also created a Drupal module specifically for EthicShare, called the Link Resolver Module, that we have shared with the Drupal community: http://drupal.org/project/link_resolver. The development team will continue to seek out opportunities for collaboration and shared effort with other Drupal application developers.

EthicShare has been developed using free and open source software platforms with the hope that it can provide both the business model and the technical framework for inspiring and launching similar projects for other scholarly communities.

EthicShare Community Site Framework.pdf190.91 KB

EthicShare Privacy Policy

The EthicShare web site is hosted and supported by the University of Minnesota. As such, EthicShare adheres to the University's online privacy policy, amended for EthicShare where appropriate. EthicShare serves as both an online research environment for the fields of practical ethics and an experimental platform for studying recommender systems, interface design, and online community design and theory. The EthicShare project team and Governance Board have created this privacy statement to demonstrate our firm commitment to privacy:

The policy of the University of Minnesota is to respect the privacy of all web site visitors to the extent permitted by law. This online privacy statement is intended to inform you of the ways in which this web site collects information, the uses to which that information will be put, and the ways in which we will protect any information you choose to provide us.

There are four types of information that this site may collect during your visit: network traffic logs, web visit logs, cookies, and information voluntarily provided by you.
1. Network Traffic Logs

In the course of ensuring network security and consistent service for all users, the University employs software programs to do such things as monitor network traffic, identify unauthorized access or access to nonpublic information, detect computer viruses and other software that might damage University computers or the network, and monitor and tune the performance of the University network. In the course of such monitoring, these programs may detect such information as e-mail headers, addresses from network packets, and other information. Information from these activities is used only for the purpose of maintaining the security and performance of the University's networks and computer systems. Personally identifiable information from these activities is not released to external parties without your consent unless required by law, including Minn. Stat. 13.15.

2. Web Visit Logs

University web sites routinely collect and store information from online visitors to help manage those sites, improve service, and develop new services. This information includes the pages and files visited on the site, what predictions or customized services the user is shown, the date and time of the visit, the internet address (URL or IP address) of the referring site, the domain name and IP address from which the access occurred, the version of browser used, the capabilities of the browser, and search terms used on our search engines.

Whenever possible, users are represented anonymously as numeric identifiers so that service administrators do not know the real identity of the users in the logged data. However, for the purpose of authenticating users at login, and resolving account issues such as forgotten passwords, a mapping from email addresses to anonymous identifiers is stored. Except for these limited purposes, this site makes no attempt to identify individual visitors from this information. In general, any personally identifiable information is not released to external parties without your consent unless required by law, including Minn. Stat. 13.15.

This web visit log data may be used by the EthicShare system to make recommendations to other users.

3. Cookies

Cookies are pieces of information stored by your web browser on behalf of a web site and returned to the web site on request. This site uses cookies for these purposes: to carry data about your current session at the site from one web page to the next, to identify you to the site between visits, and to store any site preferences that you may choose to set. If you prefer not to receive cookies, you may turn them off in your browser, or may set your browser to ask you before accepting a new cookie. Some features or pages may not function properly if the cookies are turned off. Unless otherwise notified on this site, we will not store data, other than for the stated purposes, in cookies. Cookies remain on your computer, and accordingly we neither store cookies on our computers nor forward them to any external parties. Unless otherwise notified on this site, we do not use cookies to track your movement among different web sites or to provide advertisements, and do not exchange cookies with other entities.

4. Information Voluntarily Provided by You

In using EthicShare, you have the option to register for a personal account that will allow you to use the site’s personalization features and other specialized services and tools. In choosing to register, you will be asked to supply the following information: a user name, your e-mail address and a password. Using your e-mail address allows you to easily remember your EthicShare username and recover your password. When registering, we ask for your permission to send you occasional email updates announcing new features, explaining changes to the system, or inviting you to participate in special opportunities. If at a later time you decide you do not wish to receive these emails, you may indicate this by following the directions in the opt-out section below. We will not send you mail without your permission.

As a registered user, you have the option of creating your own user profile, which will be made visible to other users of the EthicShare site only if you choose. If you consent to share user profile information, what you have listed in your Directory Profile will be publicly visible under your chosen username.

Participating in EthicShare’s conversation features (including message boards and member profiles) requires that you create a publicly visible username. You may modify your profile information and review your privacy settings at any time by clicking "My Account Preferences" when logged in to EthicShare.

In registering for an EthicShare account, you consent to participate in the research activities we conduct on collaborative work sites. At any time, whether when creating an account or editing an existing account, you can select not to be a research study participant. To "opt out" of participation with an existing account, users can make changes in “My Account Preferences” or email help@ethicshare.org. There are two types of research studies we will conduct:

   1. Natural studies, where users are divided into groups that receive different versions of an interface, but where the versions are all relatively simple extensions of the EthicShare interface or algorithms that we're comparing in an A/B test. These studies fall into the natural data collection processes of the site. No further consent form will be sent to account holders; all registered users who have not opted out will be included in these studies.
   2. "Virtual lab" studies, where users are run through a very different experience on a "one-off" basis. For these studies, a specific privacy statement will be made clearly available for each activity not covered under this statement, and participation in such activities will be made optional.

In general, each web page requesting information discloses the purpose of that information. If you do not wish to have the information used in that manner, you are not required to provide it.

Finally, in the course of using this web site, you may choose to provide us with information to help us serve your needs. For example, you may send us electronic mail (through a mailer or a web form) to request information, you may sign up for a mailing list, or you may send us your address so we may send you an application or other material. Any personally identifiable information you send us will be used only for the purpose indicated. Requests for information will be directed to the appropriate staff to respond to the request, and may be recorded to help us update our site to better respond to similar requests.

We will not sell, exchange or otherwise distribute your personally identifiable information without your consent, except to the extent required by law. We do not retain the information longer than necessary for normal operations.

Please contact Ethicshare with questions or concerns on the use of personally identifiable information.

Third Parties

EthicShare does not release e-mail addresses or names to any third parties. We may share your demographic data (without your name or e-mail address attached) in research results. Furthermore, we may refer to the tastes of individual users (without your name or e-mail address attached) in research results. Aside from the above, information is held as confidential as is practical within our secured database.

Security Measures

Members of the EthicShare project team are made aware of our privacy policy and practices by reviewing this statement upon joining the team. User data is password protected and access to the database is limited to members of the team.

We use appropriate safeguards to ensure the security, integrity, and privacy of personally identifiable information submitted to our site and periodically update measures with new technologies. When appropriate, the University uses encryption technologies, user authentication systems, and access control mechanisms. This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that the University of Minnesota is not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects personally identifiable information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.


If at any time you choose to no longer receive emails from the EthicShare team or would like to revise your participation in the EthicShare site research activities, you may indicate this by preferably clicking on and updating "My Account Preferences" when logged in to EthicShare, or by sending an email to help@ethicshare.org.

You have the ability to edit your account information and preferences at any time. Unfortunately, due to the way in which we archive data, it is generally not possible for us to completely remove the data you provided from our systems. However, if you have specific concerns, please feel free to contact us and we will see what we can do.

If you have questions about general University of Minnesota security measures see the University policy: “Including a Privacy Statement on U Web Pages”. If you have questions about this site, its collection of information, or its online privacy statement, contact the site administrator at: help@ethicshare.org.

Studies on the Use of the Site

EthicShare provides many services and features, but we also conduct research on the site's use and functionality. Our user research is twofold in its objectives: the first is to better understand the needs of the scholarly community for which the website is intended: undergraduate and graduate students and faculty working in the fields of practical and applied ethics. The second is to study more generally the mechanisms that encourage community participation in an online environment devoted to scholarly research and collaboration. 

In working to accomplish the first objective, the EthicShare team has captured the attitudes, needs, and research challenges of a selected segment of the bioethics community through site visits at all EthicShare partner institutions and through a survey of over 90 bioethics faculty members, research associates, post-docs, and graduate students. The purpose of the site visits and survey was to engage in an iterative process to gauge bioethics scholars’ attitudes about existing content, systems for information retrieval, social networking features, community participation within online environments, and to elicit overall feedback on EthicShare project goals.

User testing has been another way the EthicShare team has worked towards the first objective, and involves regular beta testing of site features. Testers are drawn from a pool of bioethics scholars from the University of Minnesota and around North America.  The EthicShare site has also been tested in the University of Minnesota Usability Lab. In addition to these smaller methods, large‐scale feedback cycles will be employed in which 150‐200 bioethics scholars and graduate students nationwide will be asked to view the website, test features, and provide feedback.

To achieve the second research objective, we have formulated an experimental design process for testing the most effective means of introducing and encouraging use of EthicShare’s collaborative and community‐based features. As a site that is built around easy‐to‐use social networking technologies that help users navigate a rich research resource, EthicShare will test how social web tools can foster community and engagement to provide a model for future research communities. We will develop mechanisms to motivate and measure different forms of community participation, from submitting comments, to evaluating the quality of a resource, to contributing content.

If you are interested in either opting out of or opting in the studies that we conduct in EthicShare, please send an email to: help@ethicshare.org.