Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

The open access journal I’ve chosen to look at is the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP). Although I wasn’t sure if it would count as an open access journal per se, after reading through the site it seems to qualify even if it has a slightly different model than most.

The SEP is published, or rather maintained, out of Stanford University via the Center for the Study of Language and Information. The goal of the SEP is to not only have an open access platform that is available to the public, and philosophers, about a wide variety of topics from various areas within philosophy, but also to make sure that the articles are cyclically revised, revisited, and kept up-to-date by experts in the field as the discipline continues to grow and make new discoveries in the various areas.

On it’s “about me” site, the SEP explicitly names that it ascribes to an open access model and that, in approaching this model, it has taken steps to ensure that access is universal (assuming you have an internet connection and the site isn’t blocked by a filter). These steps include having mirrors of the site on the servers of other institutions around the globe. This allows for folks to have faster access to the site, on the one hand, but also avoids the pitfall of maintenance outages. Relative to the movement, I think that the SEP sees itself as doing something that is revolutionary in the sense that, pace other open access journals, it doesn’t simply settle for once off publications.  While most journals simply publish, the SEP publishes but also demands constant revision as progress is made. As a peer reviewed entity, the SEP also instantiates a level of communal labor and accountability for the material that is being produced.

To me, this is more akin to what I would like to see journals be like in the future. On the one hand, everything is free and accessible (and citations are all included to help folks working on their own projects). On the other hand, it is not assumed that the publications and entries are finished projects. Rather they are continuous projects that can withstand the lifespan of the original author(s) and as such are adding to a communal entry on any given subject. Too often I think we consider our publications to be mere representations of our own ability and shininess and I wonder what would change if we saw them more explicitly as part of a communal labor of which we are but a part.

One thought on “Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy”

  1. My opinion about open access is similar to yours. I believe that our role as researchers and educators is to benefit the public. The public needs US to solve their wide range of problems from health, to transportation and sustainable development. We need to hear the public, and conduct research according to their needs, and provide them with our results. Unfortunately, what is happening now is the opposite, faculty conduct research for their own benefit, and not for the publics benefit, and whether it addresses the publics’ need or not, is not the main concern. Thanks for sharing!

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