Related Resources


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I. Finding Information

Books

Barton Catalog — MIT's Library Catalog

Electronic Materials

VERA — MIT Virtual Electronic Resources Access

Philosopher's Index — Available online through: CSA Illumina. Index and abstracts of some 500 journal articles (1940-present).

Background Information

Amazon logo Simpson, J. A., and E. S. C. Weiner. The Oxford English Dictionary. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1989. ISBN: 9780198611868. Online at Oxford English Dictionary or through your local library.

Definitions and etymologies

Oxford Reference Online — Excellent source for definitions and quick background information. Covers a variety of disciplines.

Amazon logo Honderich, Ted. The Oxford Companion to Philosophy. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2005. ISBN: 9780199264797.

Dictionary of Philosophical Terms and Names — 1000 entries covering names and terms.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy — Entries and updates are refereed.

Amazon logo Horowitz, Maryanne Cline. New Dictionary of the History of Ideas. Detroit, MI: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2004. ISBN: 9780684313771. Available online through: GALE

Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy Online

Amazon logo Craig, Edward. The Shorter Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy. New York, NY: Routledge, 2005. ISBN: 9780415324953.

II. Evaluating Information

Read information you find from any source with a critical eye. Consider these points when evaluating books, articles, and Web sites.

Who?

Who wrote it? What ideas is the author trying to promote? Does the author tend to favor one idea over others? How does the affect the conclusions drawn?

Check

  • that the author's name is given
  • where the author works – the author's affiliation or credentials
  • who published the article or book
  • the type of journal in which the article is published (hint: most scholarly research appears in journals that are refereed or reviewed by peers – often called "peer reviewed" journals)
  • the reputation of the newspaper in which the article is published

What?

  • Do the conclusions in the paper seem justified? Does the research make sense – i.e. if you were conducting this research, would you feel comfortable drawing the same conclusions based on the results?

Where?

Where's the information from? (see "Who?")

Check

  • whether the research was done by the author ("primary" source) or whether the author is summarizing others' research ("secondary" source).
  • Are sources cited (i.e. footnotes and/or a bibliography)?

When?

How old is the information?

Check the following:

  • When was the article, book, or Web site written?
  • When was the Web page last updated?
  • Is it possible that there are newer statistics or research reports?

III. Citing Information

Amazon logo Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. New York, NY: Modern Language Association of America, 2003. ISBN: 9780873529860.

What is MLA Style?

MLA site's FAQ (e.g. I am using a source on the Web that has no page numbers. How do I cite it?)

The MIT Writing Center at directs you to the University of Wisconsin's page about the MLA basics. Other good sources include:

Managing your citations