Last updated

JSTOR vector logo.svg
The JSTOR front page
Type of site
Digital library
Available inEnglish (includes content in other languages)
Owner Ithaka Harbors, Inc. [1]
Created by Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
Founder(s) William G. Bowen
URL jstor.org
Launched1995;27 years ago (1995)
Current statusActive
OCLC  number 46609535
Website www.jstor.org
Title list(s) support.jstor.org/hc/en-us/articles/115007466248-JSTOR-Title-Lists

JSTOR ( /ˈstɔːr/ ; [2] short for Journal Storage) [3] is a digital library founded in 1995 in New York City. Originally containing digitized back issues of academic journals, it now encompasses books and other primary sources as well as current issues of journals in the humanities and social sciences. [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 is public domain, and open access content is available free of charge. [6]

JSTOR's revenue was $86 million in 2015. [7]


William G. Bowen, president of Princeton University from 1972 to 1988, [8] founded JSTOR in 1995. 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. 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 searchability improved access dramatically.

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vice president for Computing and Information Technology, convinced Bowen that CD-ROM was becoming an increasingly outdated technology and that network distribution could eliminate redundancy and increase accessibility.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]

With the success of this limited project, Bowen and Kevin Guthrie, the 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] In 1999 JSTOR started a partnership with Joint Information Systems Committee and created a mirror website at the University of Manchester to make the JSTOR database available to over 20 higher education institutions in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. [11]

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. [12] —a nonprofit organization founded in 2003 and "dedicated to helping the academic community take full advantage of rapidly advancing information and networking technologies". [1]


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 which is used to create a stable URL. [13]

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. [14] 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 [15] 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) [16] 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. [17]

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. [18]


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. [19] Individual subscriptions also are available to certain journal titles through the journal publisher. [20] Every year, JSTOR blocks 150 million attempts by non-subscribers to read articles. [21]

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". [22]

Aaron Swartz incident

In late 2010 and early 2011, Aaron Swartz, an American computer programmer, writer, political organizer and Internet activist, used MIT's data network to bulk-download a substantial portion of JSTOR's collection of academic journal articles. [23] [24] 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. [23] [24]

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. [25] [26] Prosecutors in the case claimed that Swartz acted with the intention of making the papers available on P2P file-sharing sites. [24] [27]

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. [28] [29] The case still was pending when Swartz committed suicide in January 2013. [30] Prosecutors dropped the charges after his suicide. [31]


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[ needs update ] online through sites controlled by the publishers. [32]

In 2010, JSTOR started adding current issues of certain journals through its Current Scholarship Program. [33]

Increasing public access

Beginning September 6, 2011, JSTOR made public domain content available at no charge to the public. [34] [35] 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. [34] [35] [36] 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. [34] [35] 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". [37]

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. [38] Registered readers may read up to six articles online every calendar month, but may not print or download PDFs. [39]

As of 2014, JSTOR is conducting a pilot program with Wikipedia, whereby established editors are given reading privileges through the Wikipedia Library, as with a university library. [40] [41]


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. [42] [43] [44]

JSTOR metadata is available through CrossRef and the Unpaywall dump, [45] which as of 2020 identifies nearly 3 million works hosted by JSTOR as toll access, as opposed to over 200,000 available in open access (mainly through third party open access repositories).

See also

Related Research Articles

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Academic publishing Subfield of publishing which distributes academic research and scholarship

Academic publishing is the subfield of publishing which distributes academic research and scholarship. Most academic work is published in academic journal articles, books or theses. 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 Research publications that are distributed online, free of cost or other access barriers

Open access (OA) is a set of principles and a range of practices through which research outputs are distributed online, free of cost or other access barriers. With open access strictly defined, or libre open access, barriers to copying or reuse are also reduced or removed by applying an open license for copyright.

Artstor is a nonprofit organization that builds and distributes the Digital Library, an online resource of more than 2.5 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 Portfolio 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.

PubMed Central (PMC) is a free digital repository that archives open access full-text scholarly articles that have been published in biomedical and life sciences journals. As one of the major research databases developed by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), PubMed Central is more than a document repository. Submissions to PMC are indexed and formatted for enhanced metadata, medical ontology, and unique identifiers which enrich the XML structured data for each article. Content within PMC can be linked to other NCBI databases and accessed via Entrez search and retrieval systems, further enhancing the public's ability to discover, read and build upon its biomedical knowledge.

Aaron Swartz Computer programmer and internet/political activist (1986–2013)

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, the Markdown publishing format, the organization Creative Commons, the website framework web.py, and joined the social news site Reddit six months after its founding. He was given the title of co-founder of Reddit by Y Combinator owner Paul Graham after the formation of Not a Bug, Inc.. Swartz's work also focused on civic awareness and activism. He helped launch the Progressive Change Campaign Committee in 2009 to learn more about effective online activism. In 2010, he became a research fellow at Harvard University's Safra Research Lab on Institutional Corruption, directed by Lawrence Lessig. He founded the online group Demand Progress, known for its campaign against the Stop Online Piracy Act.

Project MUSE Online database of journals and ebooks

Project MUSE, a non-profit collaboration between libraries and publishers, is an online database of peer-reviewed academic journals and electronic books. Project MUSE contains 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, all of which are free of digital rights management (DRM). It operates as a third-party acquisition service like EBSCO, JSTOR, OverDrive, and ProQuest.


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.

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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.

ResearchGate is a European commercial social networking site for scientists and researchers to share papers, ask and answer questions, and find collaborators. According to a 2014 study by Nature and a 2016 article in Times Higher Education, it is the largest academic social network in terms of active users, although other services have more registered users, and a 2015–2016 survey suggests that almost as many academics have Google Scholar profiles.

<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 multiple violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986 (CFAA), after downloading 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 technology company developing software for researchers, publishers, academic and commercial organizations. ReadCube’s product line includes the reference manager ReadCube Papers, Anywhere Access and custom services 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.

CORE (research service)

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. CORE works closely with digital libraries and institutional repositories.

Library Genesis File-sharing website for print publications

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Sci-Hub is a shadow library website that provides free access to millions of research papers and books, without regard to copyright, by bypassing publishers' paywalls in various ways. Sci-Hub was founded by Alexandra Elbakyan in 2011 in Kazakhstan in response to the high cost of research papers behind paywalls. The site is extensively used worldwide. In September 2019, the site's owners said that it served approximately 400,000 requests per day and in 2021 that had risen to 2 million requests per day. Sci-Hub reported on January 10, 2022 that its collection comprises 85,258,448 scientific articles, which is equivalent to 95% of all scientific journal articles with issued DOI numbers.

Shadow libraries are online databases of readily available content that is normally obscured or otherwise not readily accessible. Such content may be inaccessible for a number of reasons, including the use of paywalls, copyright controls, or other barriers to accessibility placed upon the content by its original owners. Shadow libraries usually consist of textual information like in electronic books but may also include other digital media, including software, music, or films. Shadow libraries are almost ubiquitously examples of large-scale copyright infringement.

The Open Knowledge Repository is the official open-access repository of the World Bank and features research content about development. It was launched in 2012, alongside the World Bank's Open Access Policy and its adoption of the Creative Commons Attribution license for all research and knowledge products that it publishes, which collectively made the World Bank the first international organization to completely embrace open access. The repository collects the intellectual output of the World Bank in digital form, disseminates it, and preserves it long-term.


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Further reading