Many people do an internet search to find information about a topic they are interested in. Some tools I’ve seen referenced here to find philosophical information are the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy and Information Philosopher.

What I am interested in are other reference tools that a professional philosopher would expect to have available at the institution where they are employed.

For example, would JSTOR be a major reference tool used by professional philosophers or is something else more valuable? What reference tools are most valuable to philosophers in general at a university? In other words, if your institution could only purchase a handful or so of research tools for the general philosopher, which ones would they be?

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    arn't you getting the term 'philosopher' confused with people (i.e. academicians and students) who study philosophy and philosophers? Commented Jun 11, 2018 at 4:29
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    Specify 'reference tool'. JSTOR is great since it is a database that includes a lot of the main journals. So you have access to the primary sources. But it does not have all of them and especially no books. My main tools are a huge library, citavi, and Google scholar.
    – Philip Klöcking
    Commented Jun 11, 2018 at 8:43
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    The archive at philpapers.com must be worth a mention.
    – user20253
    Commented Jun 11, 2018 at 11:19
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    @SwamiVishwananda By using the term "professional philosopher" perhaps I meant "academicians and students", basically someone doing philosophy who is employed by a university or some other institution to do philosophy. As Philip Klocking mentioned having a physical library is itself an advantage of being associated with such an institution. I am looking for research tools that I might be unaware of because I am not a professional philosopher. Commented Jun 11, 2018 at 12:39
  • @PhilipKlöcking That is the first I've heard of citavi: citavi.com/en Commented Jun 11, 2018 at 12:44

1 Answer 1


A professor or serious student of philosophy will likely have a substantial personal collection of books accumulated in the course of their study or research. A university may have a small departmental library for philosophy in addition to resources in general or other libraries. A university library system will also likely provide affiliates institutional access to JSTOR and similar online resources. They may also have print subscriptions to periodicals and journals.

Exactly which resources are valuable will depend on interest and field of study, and you probably want to ask a relevant expert to save time. Journal access is very important if you're doing active research, but is less important to more casual philosophers. The internet and SEP are very good, but it's important to have other resources available in case they don't have enough information or you want a different perspective. There are actually various encyclopedias of philosophy (and certain subfields) with different strengths and weaknesses, as well as dictionaries and handbooks. These are generally good investments for an institution, but an individual will want to be prudent.

For general knowledge in a particular field, a student of philosophy may want to invest in a relevant handbook or similar resource. These are designed to give a basic foundational overview of some important ideas in the field and I think many are such that graduate students in philosophy could be expected to understand with little help. Oxford University Press has a series of these, as does Routledge, but the relevance and usefulness will depend on the individual volume and for certain topics another publisher or resource may be better.

For more detail, you might look for a reader, compendium, anthology or similar work. These will contain primary sources or excerpts which will let you engage directly with a relevant philosopher's views. There are a wide variety of these and many are selected to be suitable for undergraduate courses. I think academic lectures and discussions, the internet, encyclopedias, handbooks and readers are the main sorts of resources (secondary sources) which are useful in philosophy but aren't likely to be seen cited in a paper.

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    Adding to your last paragraph: Handbooks are likely sources for general introduction into a topic in undergraduate courses, but for coursework and especially essays it is expected to go beyond that and use journal articles etc. already - even in undergraduate courses.
    – Philip Klöcking
    Commented Jun 13, 2018 at 7:05

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