The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP) combines an online encyclopedia of philosophy with peer reviewed publication of original papers in philosophy, freely accessible to Internet users. It is maintained by Stanford University. Each entry is written and maintained by an expert in the field, including professors from many academic institutions worldwide. Authors contributing to the encyclopedia give Stanford University the permission to publish the articles, but retain the copyright to those articles.
As of January 2017, the SEP has 1,554 published entries. Apart from its online status, the encyclopedia uses the traditional academic approach of most encyclopedias and academic journals to achieve quality by means of specialist authors selected by an editor or an editorial committee that is competent (although not necessarily considered specialists) in the field covered by the encyclopedia and peer review.
The encyclopedia was created in 1995 by Edward N. Zalta, with the explicit aim of providing a dynamic encyclopedia that is updated regularly, and so, does not become dated in the manner of conventional print encyclopedias. The charter for the encyclopedia allows for rival articles on a single topic to reflect reasoned disagreements among scholars. Initially, the SEP was developed with U.S. public funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Science Foundation. A long-term fundraising plan to preserve open access to the encyclopedia is supported by many university libraries and library consortia. These institutions contribute under a plan devised by the SEP in collaboration with the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, the International Coalition of Library Consortia, and the Southeastern Library Network, with matching funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
We discuss our implementation of a dynamic encyclopedia and the problems that we had to solve along the way