The Information and Documentation Centre on Ethics in Medicine (IDEM) was established at the Academy for Ethics in Medicine (AEM) in 1992. Since 2000, IDEM has been a joint facility of the AEM and the Department of Medical Ethics and History of Medicine at the University Medical Center Göttingen.
“Is the German scientific community sufficiently supplied with specialist literature on ethics in medicine?” This question from a survey among the members of the Academy for Ethics in Medicine was the beginning of IDEM’s success story in 1992.
The results of this survey clearly showed that there was a lack of suitable infrastructure for the supply of scientific literature on ethics in medicine. In order to support research-related academic work, and to make ethical issues in medicine a topic for wider public discussion, the Federal Ministry of Health provided start-up funds for the Information and Documentation Centre on Ethics in Medicine over 20 years ago. Other projects funds for IDEM come from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the Federal State of Lower Saxony. Today, IDEM is permanently financed by the University Medical Center Göttingen.
Over the past years, the public and scientific information landscape has changed considerably through the internet. Also, because of the highly interdisciplinary nature of ethics in medicine as a field of study, the supply with specialist journals on the subject is overwhelming. While there has been a lack of easily accessible information 20 years ago, junior researchers today complain about the oversupply with information and point out the need for orientation. Hence, the question of quality and evaluation criteria regarding literature sources and publications is of increasing importance.
The original reason for establishing the Information and Documentation Centre on Ethics in Medicine might have become obsolete. However, the support IDEM provides in its function as a consulting institution giving orientation within the abundance of information has become more important than ever.