Help with JSTOR, Part I: Using JSTOR to find Articles and Reviews

JSTOR is an amazing resource if you are looking for scholarly articles and book reviews. Pretty much every university has a subscription to JSTOR, but if you are not currently affiliated with a university you will not be able to access the full text of many articles. To use JSTOR through your university library, search for “JSTOR” in your library catalog and connect to the resource in the same way that you would access any other electronic resource through your library. I will not show you how I do it from York’s library; since every library has a different method for connected to online resources, it will not be much help to most of you. If you have questions about connecting, it would be best to contact your library directly and they can help you get up and running. 

In today’s post, I will cover three features of the JSTOR article database: Basic Search, Advanced Search, and Browse.

Basic Search

Once you have arrived on the JSTOR home page you will encounter a search box:

JSTOR articles database book reviews books scholarly articles

Using this search box will give you a basic search, which would be a great place to start if you are just starting a research project or looking for something rather general like, for example, Scipio Africanus.

JSTOR articles database book reviews books scholarly articles

You can see here that there are 2,710 results for Scipio Africanus.  The first two results are book reviews (actually the first four are, but only two are showing here).  This is great news if you happen to be looking for book reviews, but if you are not, you can refine your search in a couple of different ways.  First, you can search within your original search results by typing another search term into the search box and clicking the checkbox underneath it that says “Search within results.”

JSTOR articles database book reviews books scholarly articles

Hitting the search button changes things a little:

JSTOR articles database book reviews books scholarly articles

While the first result is the same as the previous search, there are now only 463 results.  I should add at this point that if you are not at a university and are looking only for open access content, you can click on the button that says “Content I can access” and it will show you the free articles.   Take a look at the second result, “Narrative and Notice in Livy’s Fourth Decade: The Case of Scipio Africanus.”  If you know that you want the article, you can click “Download PDF” in the lower left corner and JSTOR will open a PDF that you can save or print.  Clicking on the title of the article will lead you to an article preview, allowing you to take a look at the article before printing or saving.

JSTOR articles database book reviews books scholarly articles

The article preview not only lets you read the article online without downloading it, but depending on the journal and how new the article is, can be full of really useful information.  In this case, there is an abstract, citation information, and even information about the author.  In the “Tools” box in the upper right you can download the PDF (now that you know you need it), get citation information, and save the citation to find later.

The preview also provides a stable URL to the article that you can save for easy access.  Notice that the stable URL in the article preview above contains information for routing the JSTOR access through York University’s proxy.  This particular stable URL will only work if the person using it has access to York’s proxy.  Your own stable URL will vary either because it does not route through a proxy or because it routes through the proxy of your university.  If you tried to click on the article from somewhere other than York (like the University of California for example), you would be prompted to log in to York’s library proxy before proceeding.  If you need an URL that will work for everyone, search JSTOR without logging in to your library proxy.  You will not have full access to the article but you will have access to the article preview page with a universal, stable URL.


Advanced Search

If you are looking for something more specific, the advanced search will help you define the parameters for your search so that you can find what you are looking for more quickly.  From the JSTOR homepage, click on SEARCH at the top and select “Advanced Search.”

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The advanced search allows you to specify a wide array of parameters to narrow your search.  You can choose to search for your search term in the full text or in other fields by using the drop down box to the right of the search box.   Two more useful search parameters are item type and date range.  If you are looking for a book review you can click the box next to Reviews or you can avoid book reviews entirely by clicking the box next to Articles.  You can also specify a date range for your search to ensure that your results are not too outdated and you can select a language if you need to make sure your search yields results only in languages that you can read.

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Another helpful way to narrow your search is by discipline and journal.  Scrolling down the list of Disciplines to “Classical Studies” lets you expand the section to reveal 72 journal titles.  Narrowing your search results to “Classical Studies” can be helpful if your search terms are producing too many results from other disciplines.  Specifying a publication or two can also help if you cannot remember exactly where an article was published and you only know an author or a partial title of a work but still need to find it.

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You can also use the advanced search to find a specific article that you have seen referenced in a bibliography.  As as example, look at the reference for the following article:

Beck, Hans. 2009. “From Poplicola to Augustus: Senatorial Houses in Roman Political Culture.” Phoenix 63 (3/4): 361–84.

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By filling in most of the fields in the advanced search, I was able to find the article right away.  As you can see, the article I was looking for is the only result of my search.

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You can also browse entire journals or journal issues by using the BROWSE tab.  Screen Shot 2015-12-03 at 5.47.20 PM

If you choose to browse by title you will be taken to a page that lists all the available content in alphabetical order.  From there you can narrow by letter and content type to find the specific journal or journal issue you were looking for.

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JSTOR is a very powerful search tool for articles and knowing some tips and tricks should enable you to use JSTOR like a pro.  It is important to know, however, that not all journals are part of the JSTOR database.  If you have a hard time finding an article you are looking for on JSTOR, check to see that the journal it is published in is included on JSTOR.  If it is not, your library might provide digital access or subscribe to hard copies.  Be sure to check your library catalog before giving up your search.  Also, JSTOR does not always have the most recent issues of journals.  While some journals release articles on JSTOR as soon as their issues come out, others have lag time.  The lag time varies by individual journal but is typically between three to five years.  If you are looking for the most recent issue of the JRS (Journal of Roman Studies), for example, you will not find it on JSTOR.  The most recent issue of the JRS on JSTOR is 2011.  For newer articles you have to check the JRS directly.



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Help with JSTOR, Part I: Using JSTOR to find Articles and Reviews by is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


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