Research and Writing in Philosophy

School of Athens

Research in Philosophy

Philosophical research involves the use of a wide range of resources including books, journal articles, primary resources, and reference works. This guide will provide you with a brief overview the best places to discover these resources. 

Some general tips when searching:

  • Break your topic down into its component concepts and articulate those concepts with keywords that you can use to formulate your search. For example, if you're writing a paper about Plato's conception of the soul in Phaedo you might articulate some of the following key concepts:
    • Plato
    • Care of the soul
    • Recollection
  • If you aren't seeing the results you expected, change your terms. Use synonyms and broader or narrower terms related to your keywords.
  • Once you've found a good resource, note the language used by the author to describe their topic and borrow their language for future searches.
  • Pay attention to the references in the footnotes or end notes in the works you're reading. They look back to papers that have influenced your author and may also be relevant to your work. 
  • Works which cite the work you're reading have been influenced by it. They may also be relevant to your work. You can usually find out who has cited your book or article by looking for "Cited By" link in Google Scholar or the Database you're usingGoogle Scholar record with "Cited By" link highlighted.
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