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Islamic Bioethics (IMSE Project)

The Islamic Medical and Scientific Ethics (IMSE) Project is a collaborative effort of Georgetown Libraries to produce a comprehensive collection of resources pertaining to Islamic perspectives in the broad field of bioethics.

Bioethics Thesaurus Subject Headings

More than 1,100 Bioethics Thesaurus keywords are used systematically to reflect subjects treated in books and articles in the collection. The Thesaurus helps to carry out very precise searches. You can search all the Thesaurus terms in the Bioethics Thesaurus database to see the concepts, definitions, dates introduced, related terms, narrow terms, and broader terms.


1) Build a search by selecting a topic from the MAJOR ISSUE SUBJECT HEADINGS, e.g. "genetic research". Note that many other Subject Headings may be of special interest to you, e.g. aged; cross-cultural comparison; milk banks; religiously prohibited materials; terminally ill.

2) Add one or more additional search terms to your strategy from the ISLAMIC/MUSLIM-RELATED SUBJECT HEADINGS. Note that every citation in the IMSE database relates in some way to Islamic ethics or to the Muslim world, so use these terms sparingly for very focused searches, e.g. fatwas or sharia

3) If you do not find a term that interests you in the Bioethics Thesaurus, try searching the term as a "Keyword (anywhere)" in the Basic Search box and look at the Subject Headings of the items you retrieve. Then redo the search using the most useful Subject Headings. For example, if you search "assisted reproduction", you will quickly see the Subject Heading: reproductive technologies, which might be preferable.

If the results are too large, simply restrict your search strategy further; if too small, remove some of the terms.

4) If you want to retrieve everything in a particular category on the Advanced Search page, you may search the * (asterisk) in the top search box, and then, under "Add limits" click on one or more limits. In this way you can retrieve, for example, all audiovisuals in the IMSE database. 

BRL Classification Numbers

The BRL Classification Scheme consists of 22 categories, arranged hierarchically. This makes it easy to search, for example, the complete category of "Death and Dying" by using the Classification or Classification (Pri) category from the pull-down menu on the Basic search page. You may further limit your results by selecting marked records, and choosing limit/sort to select a limit of your choice.


(Note: it is easier to begin with a classification number search, which can then be further limited by a Subject Heading search via the search/limit function.)

Find discussions focused on the determination of death in Islamic ethics or the Muslim world.

Answer: Search 20.2.1 as a classification number.

Find literature about the determination of death and organ donation.

Answer:  Search 20.2.1 as a Classification number; Save all on page. Then, as a final step, in the "Enter limits" section, select: Words in the SUBJECT: and enter: organ donation.

Find discussions about genetic counseling in Saudi Arabia.

Answer: Search 15.2 as a Classification number; Save all on page. Then, as a final step, in the "Enter limits" section, select: Words in the SUBJECT: and enter "Saudi Arabia" to find documents on genetic counseling in Saudi Arabia.

Have any fatwas been issued regarding in vitro fertilization?

Answer: Search 14.4 as a Classification number; Save all on page. Then, as a final step, in the "Enter limits" section, select: Words in the SUBJECT: and enter fatwas to find documents on in vitro fertilization and fatwas.

Thesaurus-Related Tools

BIOETHICS THESAURUS DATABASE - Select a term from more than 1,100 important concepts in bioethics, searchable as a database with definitions and broader, narrower, and related terms.

"ISLAMIC/MUSLIM-RELATED SUBJECT HEADINGS - Highlights keywords specific to the Muslim world as well as names of organizations, countries, etc. which likewise can be searched as either primary and secondary topics of discussion.

"MAJOR ISSUE" SUBJECT HEADINGS - A bird's-eye view of key issues in the field, useful in selecting a general category to start your research.


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