Sometimes, you can get a bit of handy overview information from a general web resource. Everyone is familiar with Wikipedia, for example, which is sometimes a useful tool. However, even though Wikipedia's entries are often dated at the bottom, indicating the last time a particular page was updated, you generally have no idea who wrote a particular entry and know nothing of that person's qualifications or expertise. Therefore, Wikipedia is NOT a valid resource for college-level research on even the most basic level.
Luckily, there are certain other more scholarly web resource projects, edited and written by academics in a particular field. These are, in some cases, a little more reliable....but only for basic overview and NOT for detailed term paper research.
One such academic web source in the field of philosophy is the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. The IEP says of itself: "The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy was founded in 1995 for the purpose of providing detailed, scholarly information on key topics and philosophers in all areas of philosophy. The IEP is free of charge and available to all internet users world wide. The present staff of 25 editors and approximately 200 authors hold doctorate degrees and are professors at colleges and universities around the world, most notably from the United States, Great Britain, and Australia. The submission and review process of articles is the same as that with printed philosophy journals, books and reference works. The authors are specialists in the areas in which they write, and are frequently leading authorities. Submissions are peer reviewed by specialists according to strict criteria."
Except in the case of preliminary "proto articles" that have the initialism IEP at the end, entries in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy are signed by the academic researcher who wrote them, and are usually dated with a year copyright date.
So, yes, the IEP is a more reliable resource than most of the materials that you will find on the general web. That is why we have included it in the annotated listings in the Sawyer Library's Philosophy Resource Guide. But along with selected general internet sources, our Guide will also inform you about Sawyer Library databases that provide links to materials like very valuable peer-reviewed journal literature (which is what your professor really wants you to use in writing a paper). And we even have online versions of scholarly subject encyclopedias. These include the second edition (2006) of the respected 10 volume Macmillan Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
So, if you are interested in philosophy, take a look at the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, which is certainly worth a browse. Spend some time perusing the listings in our Philosophy Resource Guide, as well.
And, as always, if you have any questions about resources available to you at Sawyer Library, please stop in and see us at the Reference Desk!