What’s so special about JSTOR?

A question we get a lot at the reference desk is, “What is the best database to find articles on my topic?”

Regardless of your topic, a good place to find articles on many subjects is JSTOR. Not only does JSTOR cover most disciplines, it provides something very different than every other library database out there – it has access to full-text for the entire run of any publication it indexes, all the way back to the first issue, whether that was in 1990 or 1850.

This is unusual because most databases only have full-text of publications going back to sometime in the 1990’s. The reason for this is obvious if you think about it – the 90’s was when the World Wide Web became prominent and digitization projects really started. Not much was “born digital” before about 20 years ago, so anything published before then had to be scanned after the fact to make it digital. And when you’re talking about a publication that’s been around for a hundred years, that’s a lot of scanning, so many publications haven’t had the time, money or inclination to scan their entire run. (That’s right, not everything is available online. Shocking, but true.)

As a result, JSTOR has a lot of great information on current topics, but is particularly useful when researching topics where you might need older articles – history, literature, anthropology, sociology, archaeology, and the humanities.

Need help using JSTOR? Ask a librarian!



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