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Web address www.jstor.org
Type of site
Digital library
Registration Yes
Available in English (includes content in other languages)
Owner ITHAKA[1]
Created by Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
Launched 1995; 20 years ago (1995)
Alexa rank
positive decrease 4,685 (April 2014)[2]
Current status Active

JSTOR (pronounced JAY-stor;[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 primary sources, and current issues of journals.[4] It provides full text searches of almost 2,000 journals.[5] More than 8,000 institutions in more than 160 countries have access to JSTOR;[5] most access is by subscription, but some older public domain content is freely available to anyone.[6]


William G. Bowen, president of Princeton University from 1972 to 1988, founded JSTOR.[7] 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.

Bowen initially considered using CD-ROMs for distribution.[8] However, Ira Fuchs, Princeton University's vice-president for Computing and Information Technology, convinced Bowen that CD-ROM was an increasingly outdated technology and that network distribution could eliminate redundancy and increase accessibility.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[where?] to make pictures and graphs clear and readable.[9]

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[by whom?] 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.[9]

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.[10] - 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.

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.[11] 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[12] 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)[13] 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.[14]


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.[15] Individual subscriptions also are available to certain journal titles through the journal publisher.[16] Every year, JSTOR blocks 150 million attempts by non-subscribers to read articles.[17]

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".[18]

Aaron Swartz incident[edit]

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.[19][20] When the bulk-download was discovered, JSTOR employees initially placed a video camera in the room to film the mysterious visitor and left the relevant computer untouched. Once video was captured of the visitor, the download was stopped and Swartz identified. Rather than pursue a civil lawsuit against him, in June 2011 they reached a settlement wherein he surrendered the downloaded data.[19][20] The articles that were downloaded by Aaron were from scholarly journals which published scientific papers largely funded by public universities and taxpayer money.

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.[21][22] Prosecutors in the case claimed that Swartz acted with the intention of making the papers available on P2P file-sharing sites.[20][23]

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.[24][25] The case still was pending when Swartz committed suicide in January 2013.[26]


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.[27]

In 2010, JSTOR started adding current issues of certain journals through its Current Scholarship Program.[28]

Increasing public access[edit]

Beginning September 6, 2011, JSTOR made public domain content freely available to the public.[29][30] 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.[29][30][31] 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.[29][30]

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.[32] Registered readers may read up to three articles online every two weeks, but may not print or download PDFs.[33]

JSTOR is conducting a pilot program with Wikipedia, whereby established editors are given reading privileges through the Wikipedia Library, as with a university library.[34][35]


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 in scholarly publishing.[36][37]

See also[edit]

The number of links from En-WP to JSTOR using the Special:LinkSearch


  1. ^ a b "About". Ithaka. Retrieved 2009-10-25. 
  2. ^ "Jstor.org Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2014-04-01. 
  3. ^ "JSTOR Videos". YouTube. Retrieved 16 December 2012. 
  4. ^ a b "At a glance" (PDF). JSTOR. February 13, 2012. Retrieved December 1, 2012. 
  5. ^ a b c d e "Annual Summary" (PDF). JSTOR. 19 March 2013. Retrieved 13 April 2013. 
  6. ^ "Register and read beta". 
  7. ^ Leitch, Alexander. "Bowen, William Gordon". Princeton University Press.
  8. ^ "JSTOR, A History" by Roger C. Schonfeld, Princeton University Press, 2003
  9. ^ a b Taylor, John (2001). "JSTOR: An Electronic Archive from 1665". Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London 55 (1): 179–81. doi:10.1098/rsnr.2001.0135. JSTOR 532157. 
  10. ^ "About". JSTOR. Retrieved 28 November 2015. 
  11. ^ Data for Research. JSTOR.
  12. ^ JSTOR Plant Science. JSTOR.
  13. ^ Global Plants Initiative. JSTOR.
  14. ^ "A new chapter begins: Books at JSTOR launches". JSTOR. November 12, 2012. Retrieved December 1, 2012. 
  15. ^ "Access for alumni". JSTOR. Retrieved December 1, 2012.  (subscription required)
  16. ^ "Individual subscriptions". JSTOR. Retrieved December 1, 2012.  (subscription required)
  17. ^ Every Year, JSTOR Turns Away 150 Million Attempts to Read Journal Articles. The Atlantic. Retrieved 29 January 2013.
  18. ^ Lessig on "Aaron's Laws - Law and Justice in a Digital Age". YouTube (2013-02-20). Retrieved on 2014-04-12.
  19. ^ a b "JSTOR Statement: Misuse Incident and Criminal Case". JSTOR. 2011-07-19. 
  20. ^ a b c "Aaron Swartz, Internet Pioneer, Found Dead Amid Prosecutor 'Bullying' In Unconventional Case". The Huffington Post. 2013-01-12. 
  21. ^ Bilton, Nick (July 19, 2011). "Internet activist charged in M.I.T. data theft". Bits Blog, The New York Times. Retrieved December 1, 2012. 
  22. ^ Schwartz, John (July 19, 2011). "Open-Access Advocate Is Arrested for Huge Download". New York Times. Retrieved July 19, 2011. 
  23. ^ Lindsay, Jay (July 19, 2011). "Feds: Harvard fellow hacked millions of papers". Associated Press. Retrieved July 20, 2011. 
  24. ^ Ortiz, Carmen (2011-07-19). "Alleged Hacker Charged with Stealing over Four Million Documents from MIT Network". The United States Attorney's Office". Archived from the original on 2011-07-24. 
  25. ^ Kravets, David (2012-09-18). "Feds Charge Activist with 13 Felonies for Rogue Downloading of Academic Articles". Wired. 
  26. ^ "Aaron Swartz, internet freedom activist, dies aged 26", BBC News
  27. ^ "Moving wall". JSTOR. 
  28. ^ "About current journals". JSTOR. Retrieved December 1, 2012. 
  29. ^ a b c Brown, Laura (September 7, 2011). "JSTOR–free access to early journal content and serving 'unaffiliated' users", JSTOR. Retrieved December 1, 2012.
  30. ^ a b c Rapp, David (2011-09-07). "JSTOR Announces Free Access to 500K Public Domain Journal Articles". Library Journal. 
  31. ^ "Early journal content". JSTOR. Retrieved December 1, 2012. 
  32. ^ Tilsley, Alexandra (January 9, 2013). "Journal Archive Opens Up (Some)". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved 6 January 2015. 
  33. ^ "Register & Read". JSTOR. Retrieved 2015-10-21. 
  34. ^ Orlowitz, Jake; Earley, Patrick (January 25, 2014). "Librarypedia: The Future of Libraries and Wikipedia". The Digital Shift. Library Journal. Retrieved 20 December 2014. 
  35. ^ Price, Gary (June 22, 2014). "Wikipedia Library Program Expands With More Accounts From JSTOR, Credo, and Other Database Providers". INFOdocket. Library Journal. Retrieved 20 December 2014. 
  36. ^ Shapiro, Fred R. (1998). "A Study in Computer-Assisted Lexicology: Evidence on the Emergence of Hopefully as a Sentence Adverb from the JSTOR Journal Archive and Other Electronic Resources". American Speech 73 (3): 279–296. doi:10.2307/455826. JSTOR 455826. 
  37. ^ Wilson, Robin (October 22, 2012). "Scholarly Publishing's Gender Gap". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 6 January 2015. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Gauger, Barbara J; Kacena, Carolyn (2006). "JSTOR usage data and what it can tell us about ourselves: is there predictability based on historical use by libraries of similar size?". OCLC Systems & Services 22 (1): 43–55. doi:10.1108/10650750610640801. 
  • Schonfeld, Roger C (2003). JSTOR: A History. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-11531-1. 
  • Seeds, Robert S (November 2002). "Impact of a digital archive (JSTOR) on print collection use". Collection Building 21 (3): 120–22. doi:10.1108/01604950210434551. 
  • Spinella, Michael P (2007). "JSTOR". Journal of Library Administration 46 (2): 55–78. doi:10.1300/J111v46n02_05. 
  • Spinella, Michael (2008). "JSTOR and the changing digital landscape". Interlending & Document Supply 36 (2): 79–85. doi:10.1108/02641610810878549. 

External links[edit]

  • Official website
  • "Libraries and institutions offering access". JSTOR. Retrieved 2015-10-21. . Searchable database, includes many public libraries offering free access to library card holders.
  • "Register & Read". JSTOR. Retrieved 2015-10-21. . Free individual registration, offering free read-only access (no printing or saving) to three articles every two weeks (seventy-eight per year).