Use this guide to quickly find reputable sources and save time on your research! Contact your subject librarian or the reference librarians if you need more help. For an overview of how to research efficiently, see Steps of the Research Process.

Finding Materials in the Library

Search CityCat to find books, e-books, disks and more. There are many ways to search, such as Title, Author and Keyword.

Books in the library are organized by call number according to the Library of Congress classification system which groups items by subject, so you can often simply browse the shelves. Examples of Subject searches include: philosophy; ethics; logic; bioethics; existentialism; and free will and determinism. Here are some relevant subjects and their call numbers:



Philosophy B 1-5802
Logic BC 1-199
Speculative Philosophy BD 1-301
Aesthetics BH 1-301
Ethics BJ 1-1725


Reference Sources


Reference books are great for short overviews and background information. There are also reference resources in our database section.

The Routledge Dictionary of Philosophy  (electronic resource)
Michael Proudfoot and A.R. Lacy, London ; New York : Routledge, 2010.
B41 L32 2010  E-book

The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy
Simon Blackburn, Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2005.
B41 B53 2005 Rosenberg Reference

Biographical Dictionary of Twentieth Century Philosophers
Stuart Brown, Diane Collison, & Robert Wilkinson, eds. London; New York: Routledge, c1996.
B104 B5 1996 Rosenberg Reference

World Philosophy: Essay-reviews of 225 Major Works
Frank W. Magill, ed. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Salem Press, c1982.
B29 W68 1982 Vols. 1-5 Rosenberg Reference

Encyclopedia of Bioethics
Warren Thomas Reich, editor-in-chief. New York : MacMillan, c1995.
QH 332 E52 1995 Vols. 1-5 Rosenberg Reference

Encyclopedia of Classical Philosophy
Donald J. Zayl, ed. Westport , CT : Greenwood Press, 1997.
B163 E53 1997 Rosenberg Reference

Dictionary of Existentialism
Haim Gordon, ed. Westport , CT : Greenwood Press, 1999.
B 819 D455 1999 Rosenberg Reference


Use databases for specialized and the most up-to-date information, especially academic (scholarly) sources that are not available for free on the Web. See the Articles & Databases page for a full list of databases available.


EBSCOhost is an online reference system consisting of 22 databases which offer a variety of proprietary full-text periodical articles from leading publishers and information providers. A listing of the databases may be accessed by selecting "Choose databases" near the top of the screen.

Gale Powersearch
Gale is the vender for several databases with coverage from 1980 to the present. Clicking on PowerSearch allows a combined search of 13 of these databases. You can limit your results to articles from scholarly journals only by checking the box "Refereed titles."

Literature Resource Center
Literature Resource Center has traditional reference works, critical information on authors and their works, and current journal articles. It is valuable for biographical information on philosophers and for critical information on both an individual philosophical work and a philosopher's body of work. (To access click on the Literature Category).

CQ Researcher
CQ provides lengthy research reports written by the editorial staff of the Congressional Quarterly Co. Reports related to philosophy are ones examining moral or ethical issues such as issues of reproductive ethics, teaching values, assisted suicide, designer humans, and the ethics of war. (To access click on the Social Sciences Category)

Ethnic Newswatch
Ethnic Newswatch is comprised of newspapers, magazines and journals of the ethnic, minority and native press in America. Search here for ethnic aspects of philosophy topics. (To access click on the Social Sciences Category)


Use websites for government information, statistics and current events. It's very important to carefully evaluate websites for accuracy, currency, bias and credibility.

Episteme links: Philosophy Sources on the Internet
Search here for material on individual philosophers or philosophy topics, traditions, or time periods. Also has encyclopedias and other reference works.

The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Has substantial articles on philosophers and their ideas. Also has a timeline of Western philosophy.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
An encyclopedia continually updated by experts in the field of the given entry.

Philosophy Talk
Philosophy Talk is one-hour radio series in which each week two Stanford philosophers, along with a guest expert, discuss a topic. Topics include the lofty (truth, beauty), contemporary issues (terrorism, intelligent design) and everyday (love, happiness). A great site for both entertaining and enlightening talk.