Philosopher’s Index Upping Its Game


The Philosopher’s Index, an academic philosophy database available through the libraries of many universities and colleges, is rolling out a service that contains not merely abstracts (which it has long featured), but the full text of its indexed articles, according to a recent press release. Called “The Philosopher’s Index with Full Text,” it provides articles from approximately 200 journals. An assistant editor with the project, Dr. Anne Seshadri, is quoted in the press release:

Scholars get immediate access to the articles they are seeking, with the full text available within the citation, along with rich bibliographic records, complete and accurate citations, detailed abstracts by authors and quality indexing by philosophers. Nowhere else can researchers find all this in a single philosophy database.

This sounds like a good improvement, and clearly a necessary one in light of competition from PhilPapers.

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Anonymous
Anonymous
6 years ago

Do people still use Philosopher’s Index given the existence of PhilPapers?

This is a genuine question. If you’re someone who does use it: Why? (This is also a genuine question.)Report

Maureen
Maureen
6 years ago

I use Philosopher’s Index (not exclusively) because it’s integrated with my university library catalog and its journal subscriptions.Report

annonnnn
annonnnn
6 years ago

Given how trivial it is to access my universities system from philpapers I find myself using it almost exclusively. It is better than Google Scholar a lot of the time.

I guess competition is a good thing but I am not sure how another service could compete. Maybe offer smarter searching? Full text indexing?Report

Tim
Tim
6 years ago

I haven’t used Philosopher’s Index since 2002.Report

anon
anon
6 years ago

Re comment #1: I think this may be a subfield specific issue. I regularly use Philosopher’s Index because use of Philpapers is very spotty in my area. You get far better and more complete results from Philosopher’s Index.Report

David Chalmers
6 years ago

anon: what’s your area? it would be helpful for us to know. feel free to volunteer to edit a category in your area and help make philpapers’ coverage better there!Report

anon
anon
6 years ago

Huh. I’m a bit perplexed by these responses. I use philpapers often, but only for casual searching. I’ve always assumed that since it’s author submitted it must of necessity be less complete than PI. So I use PI when I want an exhaustive search of all major journals. Why use philpapers for that? It may always miss something.Report

Ben
Ben
6 years ago

Anon (#7):

“If we’re going by sheer number of entries, PP [PhilPapers] is ahead. As of July 21 [2014], there were 1,104,558 entries from 1,032 journals. According to the Philosopher’s Index website, PI ‘has a total of over 540,000 journal article and book citations from over 1600 journals collected from 139 countries in 37 languages.’ This is qualified somewhat in that only about half of the PP entries are classified according to the categories of its philosophy bibliography. That makes the number of controlled indexed entries about the same. However, PP is, according to David Bourget, ‘categorizing hundreds, sometimes thousands a day,’ and will soon be improving the categorization process.”

https://blogs.princeton.edu/librarian/2014/08/philpapers-et-al/Report

David Chalmers
6 years ago

anon #7: that’s a misconception. philpapers (like PI) gets automatic feeds from hundreds of journals including all the major journals in philosophy. there’s just an additional feature that PI doesn’t have, which is that authors can submit their work (e.g. unpublished or published in nonstandard venues) directly. we’re also now in the process of integrating the database with that of the philosophers’ research index, which is/was the biggest database in philosophy, so that coverage will be all the more comprehensive.Report

Anon
Anon
6 years ago

Thanks for clearing that up. I suspect others may have assumed that too. So in terms of content, there doesn’t seem to be any reason to use PI.

I do find the advanced search function a bit more intuitive and simple in PI than in philpapers. Any plans to make changes to that feature in the future?Report

annonnnn
annonnnn
6 years ago

They auto index a lot of articles. It isn’t only self submitted stuff. They also provide citation information (similar to google scholar) and links to all and any journals rather than just the major ones. I have always found it to be more complete than elsewhere.Report

Rip van Winkle
Rip van Winkle
6 years ago

I embarrassed to admit (so embarrassed that I’m keeping this anonymous) that I have been confusing the Philosopher’s Research Index, which was absorbed into Philpapers last year, with the Philosopher’s Index. For decades, every time I published a paper in a journal, I got a request for an abstract. I thought that the operation I was sending them to was called the Philosopher’s Index, was part of the Philosophy Documentaton Center, and was operated by Richard Lineback in Bowling Green, Ohio. Now, looking over the respective websites, it looks like Philosopher’s Index split off from the Philosophy Documentation Center in 1995 and the Philosophy Documentation Center moved to Virginia. (http://philindex.org/about/history/, https://www.pdcnet.org/wp/about/faqs/does-the-philosophy-documentation-center-still-publish-the-philosophers-index/) So my question is: After 1995, what was the difference between the Philosopher’s Research Index and the Philosopher’s Index?Report

David Chalmers
6 years ago

it is a bit confusing. philosophy research index (PRI) is much newer than philosophers index (PI). it was launched in 2011 by george leaman and others at the philosophy documentation centre (PDC) after richard lineback (who founded PI in 1967) left PDC in 1995 and started publishing PI through the philosophers’ information center (PIC). it was intended to be far more comprehensive than PI and i think it largely succeeded at that, with a database something like three times the size of PI. but it never became widely known (perhaps due to competition from PI on the one hand and philpapers on the other) and it is now merging with philpapers as part of a broader co-operation between PDC and the philpapers foundation.Report

Rip van Winkle
Rip van Winkle
6 years ago

Thank you, Prof. Chalmers. In that case, I need not have been embarrassed. Philosopher’s Index never really changed, and by 2011 I was using exclusively PhilPapers. It’s no wonder I never noticed the PRI. PhilPapers is a great thing, by the way.Report

Andrew Higgins
6 years ago

I’ve done a fair amount of research on both PI and PP. As I see it, this is how they compare…

Advantages of PP: Raw numbers, super easy to use and access, and more entries in foreign languages and non-philosophy disciplines (especially psych related). And, for my AOS topic, I prefer PP because of the quick access to drafts and pre-prints.

Disadvantages of PP: It’s coverage remains uneven, with Mind and related fields greatly over represented and some areas of law, applied ethics, and continental receiving less attention. It’s features for identifying and searching for articles is also split. Many articles are filed by category, but others are sorted by keywords, and as far as I know there’s been no attempt to combine these two methods for indexing entries.

Advantages of PI: Primarily, the advantage is that it has a greater number of *complete* entries. Around 40% of PP entries are complete (title, author, abstract, category/keyword, and link to paper), and only around 40-50% even have an abstract, whereas PI guarantees complete info for every entry. There’s also less garbage. PP lets everything in, which is great if it’s my AOS topic and I want all the hot-off-the-press drafts, but it means I can easily get lost in the sea of data for areas I don’t know so well. And, with PI now offering direct access to so many articles, it seems to be the place to go for reliable access to the most significant works in an area.

Disadvantages of PI: Basically, I covered this in the advantages of PP. It’s really inconvenient to access PI. I have a hard time motivating myself to navigate my library’s interface to eventually reach PI when I could just type in “philpapers.org” and begin my search immediately.Report

David Bourget
David Bourget
6 years ago

Andrew: PP has 1.6M items and PI has 540K. If 40% of our items are complete, this means we have 640K complete items, which is more than PI. I don’t see how having additional entries that are missing abstracts or other details (which lowers our percentage of complete entries) could count against us.Report

Andrew Higgins
Reply to  David Bourget
6 years ago

Hi David,
That’s right, I didn’t mean to suggest that PI has a larger archive than PP. But, at least in theory, a larger collection could be a bad thing for an archive. If a user’s goal is to find all and only the 100 best books and articles on a topic, having a collection of 10,000 (including the 100 best) would be worse than only having the 100 best. I’m not necessarily saying that PhilPapers is open to this kind of criticism. The ability to filter by topic and number of viewings does a lot to remove the problem of being lost in a sea of data. But, this depends on the validity of “# of viewings” as a measure of value, and I don’t know whether (or to what degree) it is.Report