Know the Views: For short introductions to philosophical views, terminology and philosophers themselves, the Routledge Encylopedia of Philosophy is a good start. Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy is the de facto encyclopaedia for introductions on just about every topic in philosophy. Its articles can be quite long, but are clearly structured for easy reference. If need be, you may also want to check out the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Read Secondary Literature: Outside the library, there are two major resources on the web. JSTOR (VPN Required) is an online collection of reputable journals in philosophy with most articles available for download. Philpapers is a collection of downloadable papers made available by their authors and a large index of books, journals and articles, some of which may only be available in the library.
Write Clearly and Precisely: Clarity and precision begins with the introduction and thesis statement. The latter should contain in a short breath the entire paper, so that the reader can anticipate how the paper will . Here is a handout on how to write good thesis statements.
Emulate Good Examples: Here is a clear, well-organized sample paper (with a guide and comments) by Angela Mendelovici.
- Some Useful Links
- A guick guide for philosophical definitions
- Jim Pryor’s comprensive guide for writing philosophy papers.
- Gualtiero Piccinini’s compilation: Advice for philosophy students.
- Reading and Writing Center at UF: access to tutors for help with essay drafts.
- The Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL): general style and grammar reminders.
- A Guide to Writing, Michael Huemer: more general writing reminders.
- Elements of Style, William Strunk Jr.: a classic text.
- More Writing Aids: On Thesis statements
- More Writing Aids: On Citations