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The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP) is a freely-accessible online encyclopedia of philosophy maintained by Stanford University. Each entry is written and maintained by an expert in the field, including professors from over 65 academic institutions worldwide. Authors contributing to the Encyclopedia give Stanford University the permission to publish the articles but retain the copyright to those articles.[1] As of November 2008, the SEP has over 1000 published entries. Apart from its online status, the encyclopedia uses the traditional academic approach of most encyclopedias and academic journals to achieve quality by means of:

  • specialist authors selected by an editor or an editorial committee which is competent (though not necessarily a specialist) in the field covered by the encyclopedia; and
  • peer review.

The Encyclopedia was created in 1995 by Edward N. Zalta, with the explicit aim of providing a dynamic encyclopedia which is updated regularly, and so does not become dated in the manner of print encyclopedias. The charter for the encyclopedia allows for rival articles on a single topic to reflect reasoned disagreements amongst scholars. The SEP was initially developed with U.S. public funding from the NEH and NSF. A long-term fundraising plan to preserve open access to the Encyclopedia is supported by many university libraries and library consortia. These institutions contribute under a plan devised by the SEP in collaboration with the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), the International Coalition of Library Consortia (ICOLC) and the Southeastern Library Network (SOLINET), with matching funding from the NEH.

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