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Databases Tutorials: JSTOR

Find links to tutorials, demonstrations, how-to guides, and other user aids developed by database vendors.

JSTOR Database



JSTOR is a highly selective digital library of academic content in many formats and disciplines. The collections include top peer-reviewed scholarly journals as well as respected literary journals, academic monographs, research reports from trusted institutes, and primary sources.

Download a PDF Version of this Guide

Quick Search Overview Video Tutorial

Quick Tips - Basic Searching on JSTOR

JSTOR supports full-text keyword searching across all of the content on the site. The default setting for search results is to show matches for only content licensed or purchased by the library. A researcher may choose to change this setting for their own session.

There are two search forms on, a Basic Search and an Advanced Search.

Using the Basic Search

  • Place words within quotation marks to search for exact phrases (“to be or not to be”).
  • Use Boolean operators to construct a better search (“tea trade” AND china).

Quick Tips - Advanced Searching

Using the Advanced Search

  • Use the drop-down boxes to limit search terms to the title, author, abstract, or caption text.
  • Use the drop-down boxes to combine search terms using the Boolean operators, AND/OR/NOT and NEAR 5/10/25. The NEAR operator looks for the combinations of keywords within 5, 10, or 25 words places of each other. The NEAR operator only works when searching for single keyword combinations. For example, you may search for cat NEAR 5 dog, but not "domesticated cat" NEAR 5 dog.
  • Use the “Narrow by” options to search only articles, include/exclude book reviews, search for content published during a particular time frame, or in a particular language.
  • Focus an article search in specific disciplines and titles using checkboxes. [NOTE: discipline searching is currently only available for searching journal content. Selecting this option will exclude ebooks from the search.

Quick Tips - Understanding Search Results

Search Results

The format and display of search results is the same for Basic and Advanced searches.

  • Use "Content Type" menu to filter results by journal articles, ebook chapters, and pamphlets.
  • Use the "Subject" menu to limit results to journals related to specific subjects.
  • Use the "Publication Date" menu to limit results to a certain publication time period.
  • Use the "Access Level" menu to limit your results by tupe of access.
  • Use the "Sort by" menu to view search results by relevance, oldest items, or newest items. 
  • Use the "Export Selected" menu to choose the export format

Search Relevance

Relevance on JSTOR is a combination of many things. Key elements include:

  • More unique terms in the text result in higher scores when searches contain those terms. For example, the keyword “epistemology" gets a greater boost than “university” because it is less common.
  • Phrase matches are boosted higher than just keyword matches. A search for "the quick brown fox" will assign higher relevance to a document containing the exact words "the quick brown fox" than a document containing "the brown fox is quick."
  • More recent content is given a slight boost.

Using Full-text Content

The “view” page for each item on JSTOR provides many ways to explore the full-text content. These features are available for all types of content on JSTOR:

Evaluating relevance: Items located by searching JSTOR will include an option to view a list of search term occurrences at the top of the article page image. This enables you to jump to the pages to see your search terms in context.

Reading the content: For all articles, ebook chapters, and pamphlets, researchers may choose to read or browse the item online, get pre-formatted citations, or immediately download a PDF copy. 

More searching options: Depending on the format of the items you are viewing, the Basic Search box at the top of the screen enables searching within the journal or journal issue (for articles), book (for book chapters), pamphlet collection (for pamphlets), or running a new search across all content (all formats).

Citations: Citations may be emailed, exported, or copied from the item view page. JSTOR provides pre-formatted citations in MLA, APA, and Chicago styles for quick copying and pasting. Export options include direct export to RefWorks, RIS format, and text format.

Stable URL: The stable URL listed with the item citation is the best URL to use when linking to content from library and course web pages.

Format-specific features:

Journal articles

  • The “References” tab on an article view page provides the abstract (if one was published with the original item) and list of references from the article. Where possible, JSTOR provides links from the references to other articles on JSTOR or links to CrossRef for cited content.
  • The “Thumbnails” tab enables you to quickly scan all pages in an article.


  • Use the Table of Contents link to move from the book chapter to the table of contents for the entire book, or click on the title link under "From the Book" to do the same. The Table of Contents page contains introductory text snippets for each chapter in the book, as well as  a fast “Download Chapter” (PDF) option for each chapter in the book.
  • The “Thumbnails” tab enables you to quickly scan all pages in a book chapter.


Pamphlets are formatted in the same ways as journal articles and ebooks, and may be read online or downloaded in PDF format. Be aware that some pamphlets are quite long (50+ pages).

Cite Your Sources Accurately

It's important to cite your sources accurately. JSTOR can help - each book chapter and article on the site includes a "Cite this item" link. Select the option, and you will see a new window with a preformatted citation, in MLA, APA, and Chicago styles. Click Copy to copy the preferred format. 


The preformatted citations on JSTOR are updated as the style rules change, but it's always a good idea to double check before submitting your final paper.

Bulk export citations

Bulk download all of your JSTOR citations for use in your favorite citation manager. Select multiple citations from your workspace or from within a folder on your workspace, then use the "Cite" button at the top of your workspace, to export for RefWorks, EasyBib, NoodleTools or as an RIS or TXT file.

Organize Your Research Using Workspace


The Workspace is a tool to organize your research for articles and book chapters you want to work with later. Within the space, group your citations using folders for different topics and projects, or just save items to the space. You can add notes on your items, delete, and move items to and from folders plus export any citation from your workspace when you’re logged in.


Get started

The "Save" button appears on your search results page and on the individual article, book chapter, and pamphlet pages. Select "Save," then go to your workspace by clicking the button again, or continue making selections. Citations you've already saved will be indicated by "View Workspace" wherever they appear on JSTOR.


Your workspace will be available for 2 days before expiring. Love what you’ve done? Create a free JSTOR account and keep it--no matter what institution you are affiliated with.

  • If you have created a temporary workspace and have not yet registered or logged into an account, clearing your browser cookies will cause your workspace items to disappear.

Citations stored within a JSTOR account can be accessed at any time from the Workspace menu. The citing and export options available from the lists are the same options that appear on search results, item view pages, and Tables of Contents pages.

In the Workspace you can:

  • add descriptions and notes to your folders
  • add descriptions, notes, and links to your individual citations
  • move items around from folder to folder, or from a folder back to your general workspace
  • add sublevel folders, to better organize your work

Found a source that's not on JSTOR? You can add links to sources from outside JSTOR. Use the "Add" icon to add an external link and reference name, then manage items the same way you manage JSTOR citations.

Permanently Linking to Content on JSTOR

When you need to link permanently to a JSTOR reference, look for the stable URL on any JSTOR page. These web addresses are listed on every article, and they don't change, so you can cite that URL and know it can be accessed again later.

How to find a stable URL:

You can find the Stable URL (or permanent link) in the citation information for any article. It's right underneath the article title, on the left hand side of the screen

Stable URLs are the best choice for citations, for sharing online, or for sending to a broad audience.

Article page with stable URL link circled under article title

Using the Text Analyzer

Text Analyzer is a new way to search JSTOR: upload your own text or document, Text Analyzer processes the text to find the most significant topics and then recommends similar content on JSTOR. An exciting option for beginning your search on JSTOR is the Text Analyzer.  After going to the Text Analyzer home page, you can select a document from your computer--it can be a research paper you have created or it can be a document created by someone else that is relevant to your search--and drag and drop it into the analyzer to get search results.

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