Philosophy: Reference Works

Why Reference Works?

Reference works are an excellent first stop in your research and are incredibly useful for the following:

  • Getting an overview of a topic
  • Getting topic ideas for a paper topic or narrowing your topic
  • Brainstorming keywords for searching and learning the vocabulary used by authors in that area
  • Learning the key works on a given topic
  • Discovering the key authors on a given topic

Reference works are a good starting off point, but should not be cited in your research as they are not considered primary or secondary sources. The only exception is when reference works contain primary and secondary sources (like collections of documents and essays).

Online Reference Sources

These are reference works paid for by the library but available online. They tend to be more general in nature.


Using Bibliographies

A bibliography, in this context, is a book or electronic resource that lists primarily books and journal articles on a specific topic. A bibliography can be either a selective or exhaustive list of sources; it may just be a list of citations or could include annotations. Works included may be selected because of their publication date, or their importance, or their origin. Bibliographies are particularly useful when you need to do exhaustive research on your topic or if you need to find literature published during a period not covered by the electronic resources.

Women philosophers: a bibliography of books through 1990
Z7125 .B34 1992
Lists more than 2,800 titles of books written or edited by women, covering women's contributions to all branches of philosophy. Entries are organized by subject and also indexed by author name.

Dictionaries and Encyclopedias

Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy
and B51 .R68 1998 | 2nd Floor

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

The Oxford Companion to Philosophy

The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy

Dictionary of Philosophical Terms and Names