Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

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The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (IEP) (ISSN 2161-0002) was founded in 1995 as a non-profit organization to provide open access to detailed, scholarly information on key topics and philosophers in all areas of philosophy. The Encyclopedia receives no funding, and operates through the volunteer work of the editors, authors, volunteers, and technical advisers. At present the IEP is visited by over 500,000 persons per month. The Encyclopedia is free of charge and available to all users of the Internet world-wide. The staff of 30 editors and approximately 300 authors hold doctorate degrees and are professors at colleges and universities around the world, most notably from English-speaking countries.

The purpose of the IEP is to provide detailed, scholarly information on key topics and philosophers in all areas of philosophy. The Encyclopedia’s articles are written with the intention that most of the article can be understood by advanced undergraduates majoring in philosophy and by other scholars who are not working in the field covered by that article. The IEP articles are written by experts but not for experts in analogy to the way the Scientific American magazine is written by scientific experts but not primarily for scientific experts.

The submission and review process of articles is the same as that with printed philosophy journals, books and reference works. The authors are specialists in the areas in which they write, and are frequently leading authorities. Submissions are peer reviewed by specialists according to strict criteria. The peer review process is rigorous and meets high academic standards. More specifically, an author submits an article to a specific IEP area editor, who reads through the article and makes an initial judgment about its overall quality. Many submissions are rejected at this stage. The area editor then sends the promising submission to qualified referees. Usually there are two referees per article. The area editor evaluates the reviews from the referees, makes a decision whether to publish, and sends a recommendation to the author. Most submissions are then revised, in either their form or substance. In some cases more rounds of revision are required, and we sometimes must reject entries because of inadequate revision. More commonly, any problems with entries are fixed with revision – as one might expect when well-qualified people are recruited to write entries. This is a common pattern for scholarly journal articles and reference works.

Consequently, the quality of our articles is at the same level as that of the best multi-volume encyclopedias of philosophy which appear in print. While an article published in our Encyclopedia may have an original presentation or assessment of a subject, its primary function is to survey its field; thus it would not be directly equivalent to a journal article whose primary function is to advance its field. Nevertheless, it is also the case that journals from time to time publish or commission review articles that are not intended to advance the field, and IEP articles can be considered as comparable to such review articles. For additional information, please contact the general editors.