Researching Philosophy: Where to start

 Are you new to research in philosophy and looking for a place to start?  Check out the following sources: 


Dictionaries are designed to provide short, concise definitions of words related to a topic.  Here at Indiana University  we have many philosophy dictionaries that can help you understand how certain words are used in the field of philosophy.  The following dictionaries are particularly useful:

The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy

The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy Call number : B41 .C35 1999 (East tower, 1st floor, reference reading room)

A Dictonary of Philosophy by Routledge Call number: B41  .M38 1996  (East tower, 1st floor, reference reading room)


Encyclopedias can help you learn more background information about a topic.  They are made up of longer entries that contain factual information designed to provide the reader with more depth into a subject than a dictionary could.  Many encyclopedia articles will also contain a bibliography so you can see what sources the author used to provide information on the subject.  Like dictionaries, they are usually organized in alphabetical order.    The following encyclopedias are are a great place to start:

Stanford Enyclopedia of Philosophy

Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy


Companions can be thought of as a short reference guide.  Their aim is to get information to you quickly.  They are similar to encyclopedias but they may not have the same breadth or depth of articles that an encyclopedia has. 

A Companion to the Philosophers – A who's who in philosophy. Also available in print. Call number: B 72 .C595 1999 (East Tower, 4th floor)

A Companion to World Philosophies Also available in print.  Call number: B 121 .C664 1997 (East Tower, 4th floor)

The Oxford Companion to Philosophy Call number B51 .O94 2005 (East Tower, 1st floor, reference reading room)  


Databases compile a list of various resources such as articles, books, theses, and dissertations.  Some databases have access to full-text which means you can get the journal article from their website.  Other databases just have citations which means they will tell you a resources exists but that you will have to get it somewhere else (if we don't have it available in the library, you can always request an item through Interlibrary loan).  The following databases are great for finding peer reviewed (scholarly) articles for philosophy:

Philpapers: Philosophical Research Online PhilPapers is a comprehensive index and bibliography of philosophy maintained by the community of philosophers.

Philosophers' IndexA bibliographic database with abstracts covering scholarly research in philosophy since 1940. 

JSTOR Provides searchable full-text of historical runs of important scholarly journals in the humanities, arts, sciences, ecology, and business.


Contributor: Jacob Mauldwin