Where to publish and not to publish in bioethics

Stefan Eriksson, Associate Professor of Research Ethics, Uppsala UniversityAllegedly, there are over 8.000 so called predatory journals out there. Instead of supporting readers and science, these journals serve their own economic interests first and at best offer dubious merits for scholars. We believe that scholars working in any academic discipline have a professional interest and a responsibility to keep track of these journals. It is our job to warn the young or inexperienced of journals where a publication or editorship could be detrimental to their career. Even with the best of intent, researchers who publish in these journals inadvertently subject themselves to criticism. We have seen “predatory” publishing take off in a big way and noticed how colleagues start to turn up in the pages of some of these journals. This trend, referred to by some as the dark side of publishing, needs to be reversed.

Gert Helgesson, Professor of Medical Ethics, Karolinska InstitutetPeople have for a number of years now turned to Jeffrey Beall, a librarian at the University of Colorado, who runs blacklists of “potential, possible, or probable” predatory publishers and journals. His lists are not, however, the final say on the matter, as it is impossible to judge reliably actors in every academic discipline. Moreover, since only questionable journals are listed, the good journals must be found elsewhere. We are much obliged to his work but think that a response of gatekeeping needs also to be anchored in each discipline.

As a suitable response in bioethics, we have chosen the following approach: Below, we alphabetically list the recommended journals in our field that either have an impact over one, as calculated by Thomson Reuters over a five year period, and a good reputation (still no potentially predatory journal in bioethics have received such a high IF, but it might happen), or by our own experience have been found to be of high quality when engaging with them as authors, reviewers and/or readers (and agreed upon by all those involved as authors of this blog post or as reference persons for the lists).

This will make up a list of English-language journals that are reputable, trustworthy and have real impact. Of course we are well aware there are many more journals out there with a lower impact that we have no experience of; many of them will provide good service to authors and readers. There are other lists covering bioethics journals, such as:

They are all of great use when further exploring the reputable journals available.

It is also important to list the journals that are potentially or possibly predatory or of such a low quality that it might be disqualifying to engage with them. We have listed them alphabetically and provided both the homepage URL and links to any professional discussion of these journals that we have found (which most often alerted us to their existence in the first place). If we have critical remarks ourselves, we have added them.

Each of these journals asks scholars for manuscripts from, or claims to publish papers in, bioethics or related areas (such as practical philosophy). They have been reviewed by the authors of this blog post as well as by a group of reference persons that we have asked for advice on the list. Those journals listed have unanimously been agreed are journals that – in light of the criticism put forth and the quality we see – we would not deem acceptable for us to publish in. Typical signs as to why a journal could fall in this category, such as extensive spamming, publishing in almost any subject, or fake data being included on the website etc., are listed here:

In light of the fact that all journals on the “where not to publish”-list so far are Open Access (OA), we want to stress our general support for various OA initiatives, while also acknowledging the problems (see the Schöpfel paper referenced at the end of this post).

We would love to hear about your views on these lists, and be especially grateful for pointers to journals engaging in sloppy or bad publishing practices. The lists are not meant as check-lists but as starting points and assistance for any bioethics scholar to ponder for him- or herself where to publish.

Also, anyone thinking that a journal in our list should be given due reconsideration might post their reasons for this as a comment to the blog post or send an email to us. Journals might start out with some sloppy practices but shape up over time and we will be happy to hear about it. You can make an appeal against the inclusion of a journal and we will deal with it promptly and publicly.

Please spread the content of this blog as much as you can and check back for updates (we will do a major update annually and continually add any further information found).


Alphabetical list, criteria explained in text above. 5-year impact factors from 2015, rounded off with one decimal, given in parenthesis, if over 1.

  • Accountability in Research
  • American Journal of Bioethics (4.0)
  • Bioethics (1.5)
  • Biology & Philosophy (1.2)
  • BMC Medical Ethics (1.7)
  • Cambridge Quarterly of Health Care Ethics
  • Clinical Ethics
  • Developing World Bioethics (1.7)
  • Ethics (1.8)
  • Ethics and Information Technology (1.1)
  • Hastings Center Report (1.4)
  • Health Care Analysis (1.2)
  • Journal of Academic Ethics
  • Journal of Agricultural & Environmental Ethics (1.1)
  • Journal of Clinical Ethics
  • Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics (1.4)
  • Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics (1.1)
  • Journal of Medical Ethics (1.4)
  • Journal of Medicine & Philosophy
  • Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal (1.1)
  • Medicine Health Care & Philosophy
  • Milbank Quarterly (6.3)
  • Neuroethics (1.2)
  • Nursing Ethics (1.6)
  • Public Health Ethics (1.1)
  • Research Ethics
  • Science & Engineering Ethics (1.1)
  • Science, Technology and Human Values (2.5)
  • Social Science and Medicine (3.5)
  • Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics


In light of recent legal action taken against people trying to warn others about dubious publishers and journals – see here and here – we want to stress that this blog post is about where we would like our papers to show up, it is about quality, and as such it is an expression of a professional judgement intended to help others find good journals to publish with. As such it is no different from other rankings that can be found for various products and services everywhere. Our list of where not to publish implies no accusation of deception or fraud but claims to identify journals that experienced bioethicists would usually not find to be of high quality. Those criticisms linked to might be more upfront or confrontational; us linking to them does not imply an endorsement of any objectionable statement made therein. We would also like to point out that individual papers published in these journals might of course nevertheless be perfectly acceptable contributions to the scholarly literature of bioethics.

Stefan Eriksson & Gert Helgesson

Read more about Stefan’s work at CRB here

We like ethics : www.ethicsblog.crb.uu.se

20 Responses to Where to publish and not to publish in bioethics

  1. amalmatarcrb says:


    Thanks very much for this important post. Thank you for the effort you have put in. I think it is quite valuable for inexperienced researchers. And it is quite common to receive emails from such journals. This in itself sets an alarm, I still have not seen reputable journal sending many emails asking for young researchers contributions.

  2. Stefan says:

    Thanks! Yes, you are right: excessive spamming is an indicator of such journals.

  3. Good work! Of natural reasons unfinished, of course. Here are some suggested additions to the “good” list:

    +J of Applied Philosophy: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/%28ISSN%291468-5930
    +J of Bioethical Inquiry: http://www.springer.com/medicine/journal/11673
    +Indian J. of medical Ethics: http://www.issuesinmedicalethics.org/index.php/ijme
    +International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics: http://www.ijfab.org/
    +Monash Bioethics Review: http://www.springer.com/social+sciences/applied+ethics/journal/40592
    +Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics: https://www.press.jhu.edu/journals/narrative_inquiry_in_bioethics/
    +Philosophy and public affairs: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/%28ISSN%291088-4963
    +Social theory and practice: https://www.pdcnet.org/soctheory

    The other AJOB journals?

    Comments for future improvements:
    I would also suggest to you to rethink the idea of holding out IF over 1 (or IF at all) as a quality indicator, and an automatic wild card into the list. I know that the idea of the IF as an indicator of some sort of (unclearly explained) quality is a common notion in medicine and natural science, but there the reason is very different from the reason to compile a list like the one you do here. The IF shows nothing else than a journal’s average ability to accumulate average citation numbers, and this seems to have very little to do with the qualities, or lack thereof, you are after to capture with the present lists. What MAY be seen as a indicator of minimal quality is the mere indexation by Web of Science (as this requires a journal to prove reliability of service, peer review process, etc over an extended period), but you may ponder whether it should give a wild card. Better would probably be a clear and transparent listing of qualitative inclusion and exclusion criteria for both lists, and let these do the work.

    Also wonders about the inclusion of Milbank Quarterly, which is a very broad health policy journal, mostly devoted to stuff outside of bioethics however broadly conceived. Surely it now and then features ethics themed articles, but so does NEJM, The Lancet or the BMJ …, and it becomes inexplicable why other health policy journals are omitted.



  4. Really nice to see the list of journals to avoid and links to their criticisms. The Bioethics Research Library at Georgetown University has also compiled a top 100 list of bioethics journals, available here: https://bioethics.georgetown.edu/2015/04/top-100-bioethics-journals-in-the-world/

  5. Angela says:

    Christian, thanks for mentioning these additional journals. I specifically support IJFAB, JBI and MBR as journals that’s should be on your list of places to publish.

  6. Stefan says:

    Thanks for suggestions for improvement. We will consider them for the next edition of the blog. Meanwhile your comments are available here.

  7. Simon Whitney says:

    This is a very timely and useful post.


  8. Patrick says:

    Thanks a lot; it’s very timely and helpful

  9. Stefan says:

    Thank you, Simon!

  10. DOAJ says:

    A great blog post.

    I’ve just checked in DOAJ and bioethics is under-represented. If you can recommend any good quality open access journals in bioethics, please point them to the DOAJ application form.

    When looking for open access journals to publish in, I would hope that DOAJ would be used as a primary resource.

    When helping researchers find suitable journals to publish in, the Think.Check.Submit campaign, aimed directly as authors, is an excellent resource: http://thinkchecksubmit.org/

    Dom Mitchell
    DOAJ Community Manager

  11. Aaro says:

    Well done gentlemen! I especially like your call that each discipline needs to take responsibility of educating its members as to what journals are problematic. Something that I think the STS community should also engage in.

  12. Most obliged to know of your work. I have been approached by literature.art@davidpublishing.org/ Is there anything to know?

  13. Stefan says:

    As you can see, we have included one journal from that publisher in our list. In light of the criticism linked to, we would not advise anyone to publish with them.

  14. […] Note: this is a cross-posting from The Ethics Blog, hosted by the Centre for Research Ethics & Bioethics (CRB) at Uppsala […]

  15. […] Here are the top 240 most cited articles from 50 select bioethics journals published in 2009 through 2014. If you’d like even more journals I have also created a top 100 bioethics journal list. Another great resource on which journals to avoid publishing in is available from “The Ethics Blog” by Uppsala University. […]

  16. […] engelska versionen av denna blogg. Stefan Eriksson och Gert Helgesson publicerade ett inlägg på The Ethics Blog där de försöker göra forskare medvetna om den falska akademin. Förutom att diskutera dessa […]

  17. […] action was taken on The Ethics Blog. Stefan Eriksson and Gert Helgesson published a post where they tried to make researchers more […]

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