PhilPapers is a new directory of philosophy articles and books that can be found online. The site allows users to monitor current research, browse categories or search, and contribute their own research to the site.
The site is an interesting addition to the trend of "flattening" access to scholarship and research. Projects like Google Books are part of that trend, in providing digital access to as many books as possible. Another part of the trend is opening up who can add to the conversations in scholarship. Before the internet, academic conversations ("discourse", if you prefer) occurred at conferences or in peer reviewed journals. Access to the conversations were limited, and adding to the conversation could be very difficult. PhilPapers, and other sites like it, will likely make it easier for scholars to add their voices to the larger conversations in their field.
There are consequences to flattening access to scholarship and research. It may be more difficult to assess the quality of scholarship and research on a site like PhilPapers. It will broaden the research and scholarship available for new scholars to build on, making exercises like literature reviews more difficult. I am generally a proponent of access and abundance of information and I don't believe the consequences are overwhelmingly negative. Like most innovations, the key will be how we respond to them.
Hat tip: Dan Cohen