Founded in 1995, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP) is a dynamic, community-maintained, digital-only reference work.

SEP currently contains more than 750 entries in 35 subject areas, including philosophy of science, aesthetics, history of ideas, feminism, ethics (theoretical and applied), social and political philosophy, and logic.  New entries and updates are added on a regular basis and the final edition will have 1,074 commissioned entries.  A prestigious board of editors rigorously referees all new entries and updates.  More than 1,000 authors and 100 subject editors contribute their expertise free of charge.  Because its content is readily accessible via popular web search engines such as Google, SEP is widely used by scholars, students and the general public.  The encyclopedia is accessed more than 300,000 times per week on its principal website at Stanford University and three mirror sites at universities in Sydney, Amsterdam, and Leeds.

This resource is a unique, transformative model for scholarly publishing.  All 10 UC campuses agreed to support SEP by joining Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy International Association (SEPIA), a membership organization of libraries throughout the world.  To cover the annual costs of administering and supporting this volunteer effort, Stanford University has partnered with the Southeastern Library Network (SOLINET), the International Coalition of Library Consortia (ICOLC), the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), and Indiana University Libraries for the purpose of building a protected operating fund for the SEP.  While the library organizations through memberships in SEPIA attempt to raise $3 million for the SEP over the course of three years (primarily from libraries at academic institutions offering degrees in philosophy), Stanford hopes to raise $1.125 million from private individuals and corporations during that same time period.  The SEP would then live off the interest on that $4.125 million fund.

The National Endowment for the Humanities has endorsed and supported Stanford’s efforts by awarding the library organizations (SOLINET, ICOLC, and SPARC) a $500,000 Challenge Grant in December 2004.  Library organizations have raised $1.5 million from their member libraries (i.e., half of their $3 million goal) and the NEH has contributed $500,000, bringing the libraries to two-thirds of their fund-raising goal.

Nearly 40 University of California professors have contributed to SEP, and several serve on the Editorial Board. In December 2005, SEP was awarded “Best Content” by the Charleston Advisor.

Worldwide access is at http://plato.stanford.edu/contents.html.