BioéthiqueOnline: Moving to Peer-Review

Editorial (PDF)

Bryn Williams-Jones1, Jean-Christophe Belisle Pipon2, Renaud Boulanger2, Elise Smith2, Charles Dupras3, Maude Laliberté3, Lise Levesque3, Charles Marsan3, Jason Behrmann4, Carolina Martin4, Zubin Master4, Christopher McDougall4, Ali Okhowat4, Sonia Paradis4

Editor-in-Chief ; Executive editor ; Section editor ; 4 Editor



Editorial BioéthiqueOnline 2012
Published: 20 Dec 2012
© 2012 BioéthiqueOnlineCreative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License


BioéthiqueOnline was launched in March 2012 as a non-peer reviewed journal with the aim of providing a platform to facilitate and encourage the development of a bilingual bioethics community in Canada and internationally. In light of discussions amongst the Editorial Committee over the past few months regarding the growth of the journal, we have decided to move to a peer-reviewed process for articles submitted to the journal.

That being said, BioéthiqueOnline’s mission, vision and values remain the same: to explore novel ways of conducting bioethics research and disseminating knowledge. Transparency, conflict of interest management, and complete free and open access will remain; and we will continue innovating so that we provide the best environment possible for knowledge dissemination. BioéthiqueOnline will continue to publish commentaries, case studies and reviews (books, conferences, events), as well as news, events and job opportunities.Our existing internal evaluation procedures will remain largely unchanged; only articles will be sent for external peer-review.

Our reasoning for this change in procedure included the following considerations:

  • After demonstrating the pertinence of the journal’s mission and the sustainability of its innovative process, the peer-review process is a natural evolution in fostering the highest standards of the journal’s flagship content, the articles.
  • Despite developing critique in some sectors of academia about the limits of peer-review, this process is still considered the “gold standard” and a mark of credibility.
  • Funding to support academic journals (e.g., for infrastructure and personnel) is invariably restricted to those journals that are peer-reviewed.
  • Repositories that support the archiving of academic journals often require that journals be peer-reviewed.

Process for retrospective peer-review

To date, the journal has published four articles without peer-review, each of which nonetheless went through a robust editorial evaluation. In order to harmonise these already published articles with those that will be peer-reviewed in the future, the authors agreed to have their papers undergo a “retrospective” peer-review process. We then contacted scholars with expertise pertinent to each of the four articles, and we solicited their willingness to participate in this exceptional process. Each of the external reviewers (two per article) was asked to provide a general and honest evaluation of one article (in terms of rigour, quality, and structure). These comments will then be submitted to the author so that they can revise the version of the article that has been made available online. As part of our policy of full transparency, the external reviewers’ names will be added to each article that is accepted as peer-reviewed, alongside those of the two editors who initially worked with the author. A new version of the article will be published with a link to this editorial with the labels “Peer-Reviewed” and “Revised”.

Process for newly submitted articles

In line with our philosophy of supporting authors in the production of high quality publications, all newly submitted articles will still go through our rigorous editorial process. Authors will now also receive detailed comments, suggestions and requests for corrections where necessary from external peer-reviewers to complement those from the editors. Each article published in the journal will thus have been evaluated by at least two editors and two external reviewers. Since our journal promotes transparency in the publication process, articles will not be anonymized or reviewed in a blinded fashion. External reviewers will receive identified manuscripts and accept to be named on the final publication, alongside the editors. During this process, authors, editors and reviewers will be asked to identify any pertinent conflicts of interest so that they can be managed appropriately. Finally, all our procedures and documentation – which are readily available on the journal website – will be updated.

An open invitation

Through these changes, BioéthiqueOnline continues to pursue its goal of becoming a sustainable and reputable online journal that will stimulate its readership with engaging, topical and thought-provoking bioethics content. Another of our goals is to encourage our readers and authors (students, professors and researchers) to participate actively in dialogue amongst the Canadian and international bioethics communities, so that bioethics research, in French and English, can be debated and questioned by a diversity of stakeholders.

It is thus with great pleasure that BioéthiqueOnline invites the bioethics community to submit articles for peer-review.

  • Bryn Williams-Jones, Editor-in-chief
  • Jean-Christophe Belisle Pipon, Associate editor
  • Renaud Boulanger, Associate editor
  • Elise Smith, Associate editor
  • Charles Dupras, Section editor
  • Maude Laliberté, Section editor
  • Lise Levesque, Section editor
  • Charles Marsan, Section editor
  • Carolina Martin, Editor
  • Zubin Master, Editor
  • Christopher McDougall, Editor
  • Ali Okhowat, Editor
  • SoniaParadis, Editor