Last updated
JSTOR vector logo.svg
Screenshot of JSTOR.png
The JSTOR front page
Type of site
Digital library
Available in English (includes content in other languages)
Owner ITHAKA [1]
Created by Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
Website jstor.org
Alexa rankIncrease2.svg 1,778 (February 2017) [2]
Launched1995;24 years ago (1995)
Current statusActive
OCLC  number 46609535

JSTOR ( /ˈstɔːr/ ; [3] short for Journal Storage) is a digital library founded in 1995. Originally containing digitized back issues of academic journals, it now also includes books and other primary sources, and current issues of journals. [4] It provides full-text searches of almost 2,000 journals. As of 2013, more than 8,000 institutions in more than 160 countries had access to JSTOR; [5] most access is by subscription, but some of the site's public domain and open access content is available at no cost to anyone. [6] JSTOR's revenue was $86 million in 2015. [7]

A digital library, digital repository, or digital collection, is an online database of digital objects that can include text, still images, audio, video, or other digital media formats. Objects can consist of digitized content like print or photographs, as well as originally produced digital content like word processor files or social media posts. In addition to storing content, digital libraries provide means for organizing, searching, and retrieving the content contained in the collection.

Academic journal peer-reviewed periodical relating to a particular academic discipline

An academic or scholarly journal is a periodical publication in which scholarship relating to a particular academic discipline is published. Academic journals serve as permanent and transparent forums for the presentation, scrutiny, and discussion of research. They are usually peer-reviewed or refereed. Content typically takes the form of articles presenting original research, review articles, and book reviews. The purpose of an academic journal, according to Henry Oldenburg, is to give researchers a venue to "impart their knowledge to one another, and contribute what they can to the Grand design of improving natural knowledge, and perfecting all Philosophical Arts, and Sciences."

In text retrieval, full-text search refers to techniques for searching a single computer-stored document or a collection in a full-text database. Full-text search is distinguished from searches based on metadata or on parts of the original texts represented in databases.



William G. Bowen, president of Princeton University from 1972 to 1988, [8] founded JSTOR in 1995. JSTOR originally was 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. 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 journals with the confidence that they would remain available long-term. Online access and full-text search ability improved access dramatically.

William G. Bowen economist and academic administrator

William Gordon Bowen was President Emeritus of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation where he served as President from 1988 to 2006. He was the president of Princeton University from 1972 to 1988.

Princeton University University in Princeton, New Jersey

Princeton University is a private Ivy League research university in Princeton, New Jersey. Founded in 1746 in Elizabeth as the College of New Jersey, Princeton is the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and one of the nine colonial colleges chartered before the American Revolution. The institution moved to Newark in 1747, then to the current site nine years later, and renamed itself Princeton University in 1896.

Research library library that collects materials on one or more subjects to support scholarly or scientific research

A research library is a library which contains an in-depth collection of material on one or several subjects. A research library will generally include primary sources as well as secondary sources. Large university libraries are considered research libraries, and often contain many specialized branch research libraries.

Bowen initially considered using CD-ROMs for distribution. [9] However, Ira Fuchs, Princeton University's vice-president for Computing and Information Technology, convinced Bowen that CD-ROM was becoming an increasingly outdated technology and that network distribution could eliminate redundancy and increase accessibility. (For example, all Princeton's administrative and academic buildings were networked by 1989; the student dormitory network was completed in 1994; and campus networks like the one at Princeton were, in turn, linked to larger networks such as BITNET and the Internet.) JSTOR was initiated in 1995 at seven different library sites, and originally encompassed ten economics and history journals. JSTOR access improved based on feedback from its initial 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. [10]

Ira H. Fuchs is an internationally known authority on innovative technology solutions for higher education and is a co-founder of BITNET, an important precursor of the Internet. He was inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame in 2017. Since 2012 he has been President of BITNET, LLC a consulting firm specializing in online learning and other applications of technology in higher education.

BITNET was a co-operative U.S. university computer network founded in 1981 by Ira Fuchs at the City University of New York (CUNY) and Greydon Freeman at Yale University. The first network link was between CUNY and Yale.

Internet Global system of connected computer networks

The Internet is the global system of interconnected computer networks that use the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to link devices worldwide. It is a network of networks that consists of private, public, academic, business, and government networks of local to global scope, linked by a broad array of electronic, wireless, and optical networking technologies. The Internet carries a vast range of information resources and services, such as the inter-linked hypertext documents and applications of the World Wide Web (WWW), electronic mail, telephony, and file sharing. Some publications no longer capitalize "internet".

With the success of this limited project, Bowen and Kevin Guthrie, then-president of JSTOR, wanted to expand 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 dating from its beginning in 1665. The work of adding these volumes to JSTOR was completed by December 2000. [10]

Royal Society English learned society for science

The President, Council and Fellows of the Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, commonly known as the Royal Society, is a learned society. Founded on 28 November 1660, it was granted a royal charter by King Charles II as "The Royal Society". It is the oldest national scientific institution in the world. The society is the United Kingdom's and Commonwealth of Nations' Academy of Sciences and fulfils a number of roles: promoting science and its benefits, recognising excellence in science, supporting outstanding science, providing scientific advice for policy, fostering international and global co-operation, education and public engagement.

<i>Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society</i> Scientific journal published by the Royal Society

Philosophical Transactions, titled Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society from 1776, is a scientific journal published by the Royal Society. In its earliest days, it was a private venture of the Royal Society's secretary. It became an official society publication in 1752. It was established in 1665, making it the first journal in the world exclusively devoted to science, and therefore also the world's longest-running scientific journal. The use of the word philosophical in the title refers to natural philosophy, which was the equivalent of what would now be generally called science.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funded JSTOR initially. Until January 2009 JSTOR operated as an independent, self-sustaining nonprofit organization with offices in New York City and in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Then JSTOR merged with the nonprofit Ithaka Harbors, Inc. [11] —a nonprofit organization founded in 2003 and "dedicated to helping the academic community take full advantage of rapidly advancing information and networking technologies". [1]

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation of New York City in the United States is a private foundation with five core areas of interest, and endowed with wealth accumulated by Andrew W. Mellon of the Mellon family of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It is the product of the 1969 merger of the Avalon Foundation and the Old Dominion Foundation. These foundations were set up separately by Paul Mellon and Ailsa Mellon Bruce, the children of Andrew W. Mellon. It is housed in the expanded former offices of the Bollingen Foundation in New York City, another educational philanthropy supported by Paul Mellon. Elizabeth Alexander is the Foundation's president. Her predecessors have included Earl Lewis, Don Randel, William G. Bowen, John Edward Sawyer, and Nathan Pusey. In 2004, the Foundation was awarded the National Medal of Arts.

A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is dedicated to furthering a particular social cause or advocating for a shared point of view. In economic terms, it is an organization that uses its surplus of the revenues to further achieve its ultimate objective, rather than distributing its income to the organization's shareholders, leaders, or members. Nonprofits are tax exempt or charitable, meaning they do not pay income tax on the money that they receive for their organization. They can operate in religious, scientific, research, or educational settings.

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2017 population of 8,622,698 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 20,320,876 people in its 2017 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 23,876,155 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.


JSTOR content is provided by more than 900 publishers. [5] The database contains more than 1,900 journal titles, [5] in more than 50 disciplines. Each object is uniquely identified by an integer value, starting at 1.

A bibliographic database is a database of bibliographic records, an organized digital collection of references to published literature, including journal and newspaper articles, conference proceedings, reports, government and legal publications, patents, books, etc. In contrast to library catalogue entries, a large proportion of the bibliographic records in bibliographic databases describe articles, conference papers, etc., rather than complete monographs, and they generally contain very rich subject descriptions in the form of keywords, subject classification terms, or abstracts.

In addition to the main site, the JSTOR 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. [12] This site offers a search facility with graphical indication of the article coverage and loose integration into the main JSTOR site. Users may create focused sets of articles and then request a dataset containing word and n-gram frequencies and basic metadata. They are notified when the dataset is ready and may download it in either XML or CSV formats. The service does not offer full-text, although academics may request that from JSTOR, subject to a non-disclosure agreement.

JSTOR Plant Science [13] is available in addition to the main site. JSTOR Plant Science provides access to content such as plant type specimens, taxonomic structures, scientific literature, and related materials and aimed at those researching, teaching, or studying botany, biology, ecology, environmental, and conservation studies. The materials on JSTOR Plant Science are contributed through the Global Plants Initiative (GPI) [14] and are accessible only to JSTOR and GPI members. Two partner networks are contributing to this: the African Plants Initiative, which focuses on plants from Africa, and the Latin American Plants Initiative, which contributes plants from Latin America.

JSTOR launched its Books at JSTOR program in November 2012, adding 15,000 current and backlist books to its site. The books are linked with reviews and from citations in journal articles. [15]

In September 2014, JSTOR launched JSTOR Daily, an online magazine meant to bring academic research to a broader audience. Posted articles are generally based on JSTOR entries, and some entries provide the backstory to current events. [16]


JSTOR is licensed mainly to academic institutions, public libraries, research institutions, museums, and schools. More than 7,000 institutions in more than 150 countries have access. [4] JSTOR has been running a pilot program of allowing subscribing institutions to provide access to their alumni, in addition to current students and staff. The Alumni Access Program officially launched in January 2013. [17] Individual subscriptions also are available to certain journal titles through the journal publisher. [18] Every year, JSTOR blocks 150 million attempts by non-subscribers to read articles. [19]

Inquiries have been made about the possibility of making JSTOR open access. According to Harvard Law professor Lawrence Lessig, JSTOR had been asked "how much would it cost to make this available to the whole world, how much would we need to pay you? The answer was $250 million". [20]

Aaron Swartz incident

In late 2010 and early 2011, Internet activist Aaron Swartz used MIT's data network to bulk-download a substantial portion of JSTOR's collection of academic journal articles. [21] [22] When the bulk-download was discovered, a video camera was placed in the room to film the mysterious visitor and the relevant computer was left untouched. Once video was captured of the visitor, the download was stopped and Swartz was identified. Rather than pursue a civil lawsuit against him, in June 2011 they reached a settlement wherein he surrendered the downloaded data. [21] [22]

The following month, federal authorities charged Swartz with several "data theft"–related crimes, including wire fraud, computer fraud, unlawfully obtaining information from a protected computer, and recklessly damaging a protected computer. [23] [24] Prosecutors in the case claimed that Swartz acted with the intention of making the papers available on P2P file-sharing sites. [22] [25]

Swartz surrendered to authorities, pleaded not guilty to all counts, and was released on $100,000 bail. In September 2012, U.S. attorneys increased the number of charges against Swartz from four to thirteen, with a possible penalty of 35 years in prison and $1 million in fines. [26] [27] The case still was pending when Swartz committed suicide in January 2013. [28] Prosecutors dropped the charges after his suicide. [29]


The availability of most 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 of the journal, which usually is three to five years. Publishers may request that the period of a "moving wall" be changed or request discontinuation of coverage. Formerly, publishers also could 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. As of November 2010, "fixed wall" agreements were still in effect with three publishers of 29 journals made available online through sites controlled by the publishers. [30]

In 2010, JSTOR started adding current issues of certain journals through its Current Scholarship Program. [31]

Increasing public access

Beginning September 6, 2011, JSTOR made public domain content available at no charge to the public. [32] [33] This "Early Journal Content" program constitutes about 6% of JSTOR's total content, and includes over 500,000 documents from more than 200 journals that were published before 1923 in the United States, and before 1870 in other countries. [32] [33] [34] JSTOR stated that it had been working on making this material free for some time. The Swartz controversy and Greg Maxwell's protest torrent of the same content led JSTOR to "press ahead" with the initiative. [32] [33] As of 2017, JSTOR does not have plans to extend it to other public domain content, stating that "We do not believe that just because something is in the public domain, it can always be provided for free". [35]

In January 2012, JSTOR started a pilot program, "Register & Read", offering limited no-cost access (not open access) to archived articles for individuals who register for the service. At the conclusion of the pilot, in January 2013, JSTOR expanded Register & Read from an initial 76 publishers to include about 1,200 journals from over 700 publishers. [36] Registered readers may read up to six articles online every calendar month, but may not print or download PDFs. [37]

JSTOR is conducting a pilot program with Wikipedia, whereby established editors are given reading privileges through the Wikipedia Library, as with a university library. [38] [39]


In 2012, JSTOR users performed nearly 152 million searches, with more than 113 million article views and 73.5 million article downloads. [5] JSTOR has been used as a resource for linguistics research to investigate trends in language use over time and also to analyze gender differences and inequities in scholarly publishing, revealing that in certain fields, men predominate in the prestigious first and last author positions and that women are significantly underrepresented as authors of single-authored papers. [40] [41] [42]

See also

Related Research Articles

Academic publishing is the subfield of publishing which distributes academic research and scholarship. Most academic work is published in academic journal article, book or thesis form. The part of academic written output that is not formally published but merely printed up or posted on the Internet is often called "grey literature". Most scientific and scholarly journals, and many academic and scholarly books, though not all, are based on some form of peer review or editorial refereeing to qualify texts for publication. Peer review quality and selectivity standards vary greatly from journal to journal, publisher to publisher, and field to field.

Open access the availability of scientific and scholarly literature that is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions

Open access (OA) is a mechanism by which research outputs are distributed online, free of cost or other barriers, and, in its most precise meaning, with the addition of an open license applied to promote reuse.

Artstor is a non-profit organization that builds and distributes the Digital Library, an online resource of more than 2 million images in the arts, architecture, humanities, and sciences, and Shared Shelf, a Web-based cataloging and image management software service that allows institutions to catalog, edit, store, and share local collections.

Nature Research is a division of the international scientific publishing company Springer Nature that publishes academic journals, magazines, online databases, and services in science and medicine. Nature Research's flagship publication is Nature, a weekly multidisciplinary journal first published in 1869. It also publishes the Nature-titled research journals, Nature Reviews journals, society-owned academic journals, and a range of open access journals, including Scientific Reports and Nature Communications. Springer Nature also publishes Scientific American in 16 languages, a magazine intended for the general public. In 2013, prior to the merger with Springer and the creation of Springer Nature, Nature Publishing Group's owner, Holtzbrinck Publishing Group, bought a controlling stake in Frontiers.

The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) is a website that hosts a community-curated list of open access journals, maintained by Infrastructure Services for Open Access (IS4OA). The project defines open access journals as scientific and scholarly journals making all their content available for free, without delay or user-registration requirement, and meeting high quality standards, notably by exercising peer review or editorial quality control. DOAJ uses the Budapest Open Access Initiative's definition of open access to define required rights given to users, for the journal to be included, as the rights to "read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of [the] articles, or use them for any other lawful purpose". The aim of DOAJ is to "increase the visibility, accessibility, reputation, usage and impact of quality, peer-reviewed, open access scholarly research journals".

SciELO bibliographic database of open access journals

SciELO is a bibliographic database, digital library, and cooperative electronic publishing model of open access journals. SciELO was created to meet the scientific communication needs of developing countries and provides an efficient way to increase visibility and access to scientific literature Originally established in Brazil in 1997, today there are 14 countries in the SciELO network and its journal collections: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Mexico, Peru, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Uruguay, and Venezuela. Paraguay is developing a journal collection.

PubMed Central (PMC) is a free digital repository that archives publicly accessible full-text scholarly articles that have been published within the biomedical and life sciences journal literature. As one of the major research databases within the suite of resources that have been developed by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), PubMed Central is much more than just a document repository. Submissions into PMC undergo an indexing and formatting procedure which results in enhanced metadata, medical ontology, and unique identifiers which all enrich the XML structured data for each article on deposit. Content within PMC can easily be interlinked to many other NCBI databases and accessed via Entrez search and retrieval systems, further enhancing the public's ability to freely discover, read and build upon this portfolio of biomedical knowledge.

Aaron Swartz Computer programmer and internet/political activist

Aaron Hillel Swartz was an American computer programmer, entrepreneur, writer, political organizer, and Internet hacktivist. He was involved in the development of the web feed format RSS and the Markdown publishing format, the organization Creative Commons, and the website framework web.py, and was a co-founder of the social news site Reddit. He was given the title of co-founder by Y Combinator owner Paul Graham after the formation of Not a Bug, Inc..

Project MUSE

Project MUSE, a non-profit collaboration between libraries and publishers, is an online database of peer-reviewed academic journals and electronic books. Project MUSE provides access to digital humanities and social science content from over 250 university presses and scholarly societies around the world. It is an aggregator of digital versions of academic journals and operates as a third-party acquisition service like EBSCO, Elsevier, JSTOR, OverDrive, and ProQuest.

Aluka website

Aluka was an online digital library focusing on materials about Africa. Aluka's mission is to connect scholars from around the world by building a common platform that allows online collaboration and knowledge sharing. Aluka's audience is higher education and research communities worldwide.

A paywall is a method of restricting access to content via a paid subscription. Beginning in the mid-2010s, newspapers started implementing paywalls on their websites as a way to increase revenue after years of decline in paid print readership and advertising revenue. In academics, research papers are often subject to a paywall and are available via academic libraries that subscribe.

DeepDyve is a commercial website launched in late 2010 that provides access to mainly scientific and scholarly articles from a large range of commercial and non-commercial academic publishers. A novel aspect of DeepDyve's business model is that access is on an affordable, online rental basis for web browser viewing, rather than the conventional buy-and-download access already provided by most academic publishers. In an interview with one of the company founders, the article rental concept is mainly pitched as a way of giving researchers unaffiliated with academic libraries, access to otherwise expensive scholarly articles. Similar to other 'rental' or online access services such as Spotify and Netflix, DeepDyve charges a monthly or annual subscription.

Academic journal publishing reform is the advocacy for changes in the way academic journals are created and distributed in the age of the Internet and the advent of electronic publishing. Since the rise of the Internet, people have organized campaigns to change the relationships among and between academic authors, their traditional distributors and their readership. Most of the discussion has centered on taking advantage of benefits offered by the Internet's capacity for widespread distribution of reading material.

<i>United States v. Swartz</i>

In United States of America v. Aaron Swartz, Aaron Swartz, an American computer programmer, writer, political organizer and Internet activist, was prosecuted for many violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986 (CFAA), after downloading a great many academic journal articles through the MIT computer network from a source (JSTOR) for which he had an account as a Harvard research fellow. Facing trial and the possibility of imprisonment, Swartz committed suicide, and the case was consequently dismissed.

ReadCube is a company developing technologies for researchers, including ReadCube Papers, Anywhere Access and others for publishers. It is part of the Digital Science's portfolio.

Ithaka Harbors, Inc. is a US not-for-profit organization whose stated mission is to "help the academic community use digital technologies to preserve the scholarly record and to advance research and teaching in sustainable ways". It is the parent company of digital library website JSTOR, the digital preservation service Portico, and the research and consulting group Ithaka S+R. Ithaka was founded in 2003 by Kevin M. Guthrie. Ithaka's revenue was $86 million in 2014, most of it from JSTOR service fees.

Open educational resource policies are principles or tenets adopted by governing bodies in support of the use of open content—specifically open educational resources (OER) -- and practices in educational institutions. Such policies are emerging increasingly at the national, state/province, and local levels. Creative Commons defines (OER) policies as "legislation, institutional policies, and/or funder mandates that lead to the creation, increased use, and/or support for improving OER." OER are learning materials that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others.

An open-access monograph is a scholarly monograph which is made freely available with a creative commons licence.

COnnecting REpositories aggregation service for open access scholarly communication

CORE is a service provided by the Knowledge Media Institute, based at The Open University, United Kingdom. The goal of the project is to aggregate all open access content distributed across different systems, such as repositories and open access journals, enrich this content using text mining and data mining, and provide free access to it through a set of services. The CORE project also aims to promote open access to scholarly outputs. It fully supports the taxpayer's entitlement to the research they have funded and facilitates the wide dissemination of the open access content. CORE works closely with digital libraries and institutional repositories.

Sci-Hub is a website that provides free access to millions of research papers and books by bypassing publishers' paywalls. Sci-Hub obtains paywalled publications by authenticating with universities' proxy servers, which provide access to publishers' online libraries. Authentication credentials are obtained by Sci-Hub illicitly and by unclear means. Sci-Hub stores journal articles it downloads on its own servers while e-books are stored on LibGen.


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Further reading