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JSTOR (short for Journal Storage) is a United Statesmarker-based online system for archiving academic journals, founded in 1995. It provides full-text searches of digitized back issues of several hundred well-known journals, dating back to 1665 in the case of the Philosophical Transactions.

JSTOR was originally funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, but is now an independent, self-sustaining not-for-profit organization with offices in New York Citymarker and Ann Arbormarker, Michiganmarker. In January 2009, it was announced that JSTOR would merge with Ithaka, a non-profit organization founded in 2003 and "dedicated to helping the academic community take full advantage of rapidly advancing information and networking technologies."


JSTOR was originally conceived as a solution to one of the problems faced by libraries, especially research and university libraries, due to the increasing number of academic journals in existence. The founder, William G. Bowen, was the president of Princeton Universitymarker from 1972 to 1988. Most libraries found it prohibitively expensive in terms of cost and space to maintain a comprehensive collection of journals. By digitizing many journal titles, JSTOR allowed libraries to outsource the storage of these journals with the confidence that they would remain available for the long term. Online access and full-text search ability improved access dramatically. JSTOR originally encompassed ten economics and history journals and was initiated in 1995 at seven different library sites. Ten additional sites were added in the spring of 1996. JSTOR access was improved based on feedback from these sites and it became a fully searchable index accessible from any ordinary Web browser. Special software was put in place to make pictures and graphs clear and readable.

With the success of this limited project, Bowen and Kevin Guthrie, then-president of JSTOR, were interested in expanding the number of participating journals. They met with representatives of the Royal Society of London, and an agreement was made to digitize the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society back to its beginning in 1665. The work of adding these volumes to JSTOR was completed by December 2000. As of September 23, 2009, the database contained 1,079 journal titles in 18 collections representing 51 disciplines, and 262,042 individual journal issues, totaling over 33.7 million pages of text.

Usage and contents

JSTOR access is licensed mainly to libraries, universities and publishers all over the world. Licensee institutions can make JSTOR available to their members free of charge through the Internet. Individual subscriptions are also available to certain journal titles through the journal publisher.

, JSTOR material is provided by 568 publishers. More than 10 million searches of the archives were performed between January 1 and February 6, 2008. In addition to its use as an archive for individual journals, JSTOR has also been used as a resource for linguistics research. The breadth of material in the archive makes it useful in investigating trends in language use over time.

The availability of nearly all journals on JSTOR is controlled by a "moving wall", which is an agreed-upon delay between the current volume of the journal and the latest volume available on JSTOR. This time period is specified by agreement between JSTOR and the publisher and is usually 3-5 years. Publishers can request that the period of a "moving wall" be changed or request discontinuation of coverage. Formerly publishers could also request that the "moving wall" be changed to a "fixed wall" – a specified date after which JSTOR would not add new volumes to its database. , "fixed wall" agreements were still in effect with three publishers of 32 journals made available online through sites controlled by the publishers.

In addition to the main site, JSTOR's labs group operates an open service that allows access to the contents of the archives for the purposes of corpus analysis at its Data for Research service at This site offers a very rich faceted search facility with graphical indication of the article coverage and loose integration into the main JSTOR site. Users can create very focused sets of articles and then request a dataset containing word and n-gram frequencies and basic metadata. They will be notified when the dataset is ready and can download it in either XML or CSV formats. The service does not offer full-text, though academics can request that from JSTOR subject to a non-disclosure agreement.

Issues regarding the access policy

JSTOR's access policy has come under fire from independent users around the world for not providing an accessible individual user option. Affected categories are: users out of range from any JSTOR affiliate, alumni who have lost their previous access privileges after graduation, members who only have access to a narrow set of topics excluding those that do not fall within their department and anyone who has not attended university yet.

The access issue came to prominence after JSTOR opened its content for indexing by search engines and many users found themselves teased by research they can't get access to. In an online communiqué from August 2009 JSTOR announced an individual access plan for a subset of 685 of its 1030 featured titles, not all articles being available for purchase.

Related projects

ARTstor was set up as a sister organization to JSTOR to do the same job, using a similar subscription model, and beginning to function in 2004. It gained considerable impetus after the disbanding in 2005 of Art Museum Image Consortium (AMICO), a competitive online system for images of artworks, set up by a Getty Foundation-led consortium of institutions. ARTstor has gained the use of many existing image databases, and has digitized for the first time The Illustrated Bartsch, the largest catalogue for old master prints. It contained a total of "nearly 500,000" images in mid-2007.

Ithaka Harbors, Inc., a non-profit organization based in New York City and Princeton, New Jersey,works closely with JSTOR and ARTstor in the areas of finance, human resource management, information technology, software development, research, and strategic guidance.

Aluka is an online digital library focusing on the materials about Africa. Started in 2003, Aluka was an initiative of Ithaka Harbors. In July 2008, Aluka merged with JSTOR organizationally, and the platforms and content will eventually be merged as well.

See also


Further reading

  • Spinella, Michael P. "JSTOR: Past, Present, and Future." Journal of Library Administration, 2007, Vol. 46 Issue 2, pp. 55-78,
  • Articles about JSTOR

External links

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