Textual and Bibliographic Databases

Primary Texts

There are now many collections of primary electronic texts on the Web – see for example the list of Electronic Texts, Primary Sources, Digital Libraries available at www.digital-librarian.com. Unfortunately the quality of the public-domain texts widely available on the Web tends to be quite poor, so it's often a good idea to seek out repositories or catalogues of texts provided by specialist scholars, such as these Hume texts from the davidhume.org website.

Those with the benefit of institutional subscriptions (standardly provided by most universities) can get access to more reliable texts, often with powerful search facilities incorporated. For example the InteLex Past Masters series of texts by major philosophers, though not always the best scholarly editions, are usually of a high standard, and the accompanying tools makes these valuable resources for the student and scholar.

For scholars needing access to a wider range of primary texts, a number of extensive resources have become widely available in recent years, providing magnificent coverage of the relevant material, usually as digitised page images rather than electronic text (though this usually implies less powerful search facilities). Projects of particular interest to philosophers include:

Secondary Texts

For secondary material, most major academic publishers now provide subscribing institutions with online access to at least a selection of books, for example:


Many academic journals have been provided online for some years now, and indeed this has widely become the standard method of accessing academic papers. Recent issues are usually available only through various commercial providers (to which major universities subscribe), but the JSTOR archive collects together older issues of many of the principal journals:

The POIESIS collection has been designed to complement JSTOR, by providing current and recent issues of the principal Philosophy journals, together with back issues of many journals that are not available through JSTOR:

Philosophical Bibliographies

Pure bibliographical resources include two devoted to Philosophy. The Philosopher's Index is the more comprehensive, and includes many useful abstracts as well as referencing details. However it is only available to subscribers, and therefore typically requires access either through a University online link or a CD-ROM. The International Philosophical Bibliography also requires subscription for full functionality and is far more limited in coverage, but it allows basic searches to be carried out without logging in, and so can be of particular use to those who do not have access to the Philosopher's Index.

Other Textual and Bibliographical Resources

There is now a wide range of academic electronic resources on the Web, typically created by specialist scholars or research projects. To identify, categorise and give easy access to these, the Intute service has been set up (see the page on Miscellaneous Electronic Resources for more details). The following link goes to Intute's catalogue of "bibliographic databases" in Philosophy – which at the time of writing includes over 130 textual/bibliographic resources, of many different kinds and covering a wide variety of general or specialist topics.

Books in the Bodleian Library

Books in the Bodleian Library at Oxford University