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Review : JSTOR

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Table of Contents

Table of Contents...............................................................................3
1.0Summary......................................................................................4
Introduction.......................................................................................4
Findings............................................................................................4
3.1 Scope........................................................................................................... 4
3.2 Availability................................................................................................... 5
3.3 Basic search facilities...................................................................................5
3.4 Special features...........................................................................................7
3.6 Personal evaluation......................................................................................7
4.0 Conclusion...................................................................................8
5.0 Sources........................................................................................9

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1.0 Summary

This report will review the online service of JSTOR. It will report on the scope of the

resource, its availability, its use (including search facilities and special features) as

well as problems and disadvantages of using the JSTOR. Finally, the review will

compare the JSTOR service with a similar resource, and will close with an evaluation

of the electronic information resource.

Introduction

JSTOR is a not-for-profit archive based in the United States. Its archives include

academic journals (and other materials) from the humanities, sciences and social

sciences.

Findings

3.1 Scope

JSTOR is an electronic information resource containing electronic copies of journals

from 50 disciplines. It contains over 1400 journals, the earliest holdings date from

the late seventeenth century (JSTOR holds the journal Philosophical Transactions

from 1683-1775) and while the ‘moving wall’ differs for each journal, some holdings

current to within a few years.1 These journals are all held in fully searchable format,

so that users can search the full-text of any journal in JSTOR’s holdings.

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JSTOR defines the ‘moving wall’ as the “time period between the last
issue available in JSTOR and the most recently published issue of a
journal”. (JSTOR,
jstor.org/page/info/about/archives/journals/movingWall.jsp, accessed 09
May 2009)

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3.2 Availability

This resource is available primarily through academic libraries. It is neither aimed at

—nor available to—the generalist user, as the journals contained in the resource are

entirely peer-reviewed journals with very specific target audiences. However,

JSTOR does offer search facilities to the general user (or the non-logged-in

academic user). This is available both through the jstor.org website and through

Google (the JSTOR database is indexed by Google).

3.3 Basic search facilities

JSTOR offers both and advanced search and basic search function—both allow

Boolean operators, but the simple search also allows users to search the database

as they would search Google (with simple search strings).

The basic search function allows Boolean operators such as AND OR and NOT,

allows quotation marks, and it also allows the search to be limited to journals

grouped within discipline (there are over 50 disciplines listed, each of which

searches between 1 title (Library Science) and 214 titles (Biological Science)).

The advanced search (available through a tab located adjacent to the default ‘Basic

Search’ tab) allows users to search using a number of different parameters,

including:

• within a date range,

• type of result (article, review, editorial, pamphlet),

• language of the resource

• limiting the search to discipline (ie, African American Studies, Aquatic

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Sciences) or titles within those disciplines (ie, The Phylon Quarterly and

Limnology and Oceanography, respectively).

As well as these search options, JSTOR also allows the user to browse for articles.

This is organised by discipline, title and publisher. When either browsing or limiting

a search by journal, JSTOR gives the dates of its holdings of that journal; when

browsing JSTOR’s holdings of a certain title, the service presents bibliographic

information for the title including (examples are for the North Central Journal of

Agricultural Economics):

• ISSN, OCLC and LCCN identifiers

• JSTOR coverage by date (1979-1990, vols 1-12)

• The ‘JSTOR collections’ in which this journal is included (such as the ‘For-

Profit Academic Business II Collection’, and ‘Arts & Sciences VII Collection’.

Each of these collections is linked to a page listing all other constituent

journals in a collection.)

• The ‘JSTOR disciplines’ in which this journal is included (‘Business’ and

‘Economics’ in the case of this title. As with collections, these disciplines are

hyperlinked to pages listing all other constituent journals within the discipline.)

• Predecessor and successor journals in the JSTOR collection (in this case,

‘Continues Illinois Agricultural Economics (1961-1978)’ and ‘Continued by

Review of Agricultural Economics (1991-2003)’. Each of these journal titles is

linked to the ‘browse’ page for the respective journal.

The user can browse issues of the journal, by clicking on the decade in which they

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would like to see an issue, which leads to a page listing individual issues of the

journal in chronological order.

3.4 Special features

JSTOR offers a number of special features in terms of how to export records of

articles turned up by searches, and how to store the article itself. One feature that it

offers is to save any article in PDF format on a local drive, easily and quickly in order

to ensure that access to the sources is not dictated by internet/JSTOR access.

Another feature offered by JSTOR is that it allows records of search results to be

exported by email – this works as do similar features common on library catalogues

and other electronic information services.

JSTOR is available in 9 languages other than English, including Chinese (simplified),

Chinese (traditional), German, French, Russian, Italian, Japanese, Spanish and

Korean.

JSTOR also displays the citation information (although not the article full-text) for

some recently published articles outside of the JSTOR database.

3.6 Personal evaluation

The two great benefits of the JSTOR database are its scope and its usability. As

long as a user is conducting research within one of the disciplines in which JSTOR’s

holdings are fairly comprehensive (the service holds more than 100 journal titles in

each of the following disciplines: Art & Art History; Biological Sciences; Business;

History; Language & Literature), many of the articles used in research are likely to be

held by JSTOR. In that respect, this electronic information resource can almost

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come to be considered to be the first ‘port of call’ for academic journals by many

students and researchers.

As well as its scope, it is JSTOR’s usability that makes it an exceptional resource.

The website is extremely well designed, with most metadata hyperlinked to pages

containing similar journals (see the explanation of the ‘browse’ function, above). The

clean and functional website design, however, is just the front-end for an extremely

impressive database that allows full-text searching of over 1400 titles.

4.0 Conclusion

JSTOR is an invaluable resource for the student or researcher in many academic

fields. It provides unparalleled access to journals that would otherwise be

inaccessible or accessible only through document delivery. As a result, it is a

necessary resource for any academic digital library.

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5.0 Sources
JSTOR – jstor.org

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