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October 16, 2005



I wonder if some sort of pre-print digital archive would be used by philosophers. An example of this is the e-print physics archive (, which seems more important in physics than any print publication. An advantage of this kind of system is that online papers are easier to find and process in various ways (e.g. link automatically to online bibliographies). It is also easier to maintain a list of one's publications using an online database than conventional methods (create an html page, upload PDFs, etc). I’d be willing to build something like this if I knew it would be used. (Actually, I almost have the system already for in-house use at UofT.) Any thoughts?


Hi David, do you mean something like PhOnline, or something different?


Hi Dave, I didn't know about PhOnline. The general idea is the same, but it seems to me that several key ingredients are missing from PhOnline.

First, the database has to hold copies of the papers; otherwise it can't really be used as a replacement for a homemade page.

Second, the interface has to be more inspiring and ergonomic.

Third, it must be possible to integrate the system *seamlessly* to departmental websites: this way it could provide the backend for paper lists on official faculty pages. In the long run, departments that want an automated system will opt in and the database will grow.

Finally, the site must play other roles that give it initial visibility. For instance, it could provide a tool for creating and managing bibliographies just like yours (with both online and offline papers). That is useful in itself and promotes the online paper repository.

Overall, it's essential that the repository fits within the activities of the community in a way that brings papers to it until it reaches a critical size past which it becomes truly useful on its own. It would probably help initially if the repository were focused on one area (e.g. mind) and made visible through its integration with important websites in this area, e.g., yours. Also, it would be desirable at the beginning to harvest what is already publicly available in this area and dump it into the database (the tool for doing this already exists).


This post motivated me to put some papers up:

Jason King

I think it's actually Stewart Candlish, not "Stuart Candlish". He's fussy about that for some reason.

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