Billed as “a comprehensive directory of online philosophy articles and books by academic philosophers,” PhilPapers is the brainchild of David Chalmers, a philosopher who directs the Centre for Consciousness at the Australian National University, and David Bourget, one of Mr. Chalmers’s graduate students. First sustained by ANU, the project now has a two-year grant from Britain’s Joint Information Systems Committee and support from the Institute of Philosophy at the University of London, where Mr. Bourget is a rising postdoc.
Judged by the early numbers, PhilPapers has been a hit. It now has about 5,000 registered users, 60 percent to 70 percent of them graduate students and professors in philosophy, according to Mr. Bourget. Site traffic grew from 23,000 visits in February to 96,000 in May. The Chronicle asked Mr. Bourget for an update on how the experiment has unfolded so far and how it might spread. (Hint: This is not a model for philosophers alone.)
Q. What aspects of the site are working well?
A. We’re especially pleased with the steady stream of submissions to our repository we’ve been getting. We received about 2,200 submissions since we launched (four months ago). That’s quite high when you compare with other online archives, given the small size of the discipline and that we already have a lot of material in the index — people are not allowed to submit already existing items.
We’re also happy with the fruits of the new editorial structure we’ve just put in place two weeks ago. We solicited editors to help us classify all PhilPapers entries in some 3,000 fine-grained categories. We have now about 70 editors working with us, and the categorization is progressing at a good pace, though some areas are moving faster than others. On a good day we can categorize some 2,000 papers, or 1 percent of the index. Soon we will have covered most of the core areas of the discipline, and we will have a really useful platform for people to find articles on all the key topics. This is indispensable in philosophy because there isn’t enough regimentation in the terminology to be able to rely exclusively on search to cover a topic....
The open access movement:
Putting peer-reviewed scientific and scholarly literature
on the internet. Making it available free of charge and
free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.
Removing the barriers to serious research.