JSTOR

  • Access JSTOR
  • Choose How to Search
  • Identify Keywords
  • Search the Database
  • Review Your Results
  • Evaluate Your Results
  • Narrow Your Search
  • Expand Your Search
  • Get More Relevant Results
  • Save, Print and Export Articles
  • Still Need Help?

Please press NEXT to continue.


Welcome to the Guide on the Side for JSTOR! This database contains the complete backfiles of core scholarly journals in a wide variety of disciplines, starting with the very first issues, many of which reach back to the 1800s.

Use the arrows below to navigate through the tutorial, or click the links to jump ahead to the section you need.

Access JSTOR

Choose How to Search

Identify Keywords

Search the Database

Review Your Results

Evaluate Your Results

Narrow Your Search

Expand Your Search

Get More Relevant Results

Save, Print and Export Articles


Access JSTOR

Using the library homepage to your right, look on the Articles, Books and More tab and find the Research Databases dropdown menu. Select JSTOR from the menu.

You may be prompted to enter your NetID and password.


Choose How to Search

JSTOR gives you several options for searching the database.

In the middle of the page, there is a search box. This is the Basic Search box, which allows you to do a quick search for keywords or phrases.

Below the search box is a link that reads Advanced Search. Clicking this link will take you to the Advanced Search interface, which gives you several search boxes for multiple keywords or phrases, and gives you options to limit your search by source type, publication date, or subject area. (Polk librarians recommend the Advanced Search option.)

At the very bottom of this page is a list of subject areas you can use to browse the database. Clicking these links will expand the broad subject categories into narrower categories. Within those narrower subject categories, you can view and browse individual journal titles contained in JSTOR.


Identify Keywords

The first step in any search is to identify keywords. Keywords are important words or phrases that describe your research topic.

Most research topics are complex, and contain at least two concepts. Think of 2-3 words or phrases that describe each concept in your research topic.

If you need help choosing keywords, try our Guided Search Builder!


Search the Database

Type your keywords or phrase into the search box. Or, click Advanced Search, and type one word or phrase into each search box.

It’s better to start with fewer keywords/concepts, and add more as you go if you need to narrow down your results. If you are using the Advanced Search and you need to add more search boxes, click the Add Field button below the second search box.

Click the blue magnifying glass, or the Search button.


Review Your Results

Your search results are listed in order of relevance. You may use the tabs at the top of the list of results to limit to a specific type of resource (Journals, Books or Pamphlets). You may also change the sort order of your results by clicking on the Newest or Oldest links.

To get a quick preview of an article in your results list, including where and how often your search terms appear in the article, click on the magnifying glass icon to the right of the article title.

To view an article's abstract, click on Article Summary. For the full text of an article, click on Page Scan or Article PDF.

Note: If you see this icon External content JSTOR iconnext to an article, that article is not available in full text in JSTOR. To find the full text, first click on the article title – you will now see the article’s record in JSTOR. Click on Find It button JSTOR to check the library’s other databases for the full text of the article.


Evaluate Your Results

If you are happy with your results, click here to learn how to save, print and export articles.

How many results did you get? You should be aiming for somewhere between 50 and 300 results. If you have too many, click here to learn how to narrow your search.

Not enough results? Click here for tips on expanding your search.

Are your results relevant to your topic? If not, you may need to try some advanced search techniques. Click here for tips on boosting the relevance of your results.


Narrow Your Search

Did you get too many results? If your results are relevant to your topic, you can try narrowing by item type, date range, language, discipline or publication title.

To modify your search to add one or more of these limiters, click Modify Search near the top of your results page, to the right of the search box. This will bring you back to your original search. If you used the Basic Search, click the Advanced Search link and re-enter your search terms -- you must use the Advanced Search to use these limiters.

To limit by item type, click in the checkboxes next to the item type you want.

To limit by publication date, enter a date range in the boxes. Be sure to follow the date formatting guidelines listed.

You can also limit by discipline or publication title, if you only want results from a specific subject area or journal. Click in the checkboxes to limit to one or more disciplines; click on the plus sign to expand the subject area and limit to individual journals.

When you are happy with your results, click here to learn how to save, print and export articles.


Expand Your Search

Didn’t get as many results as you’d hoped? First, look at your search terms again. Is everything spelled correctly?

How many search terms did you use? Using more than 2 or 3 words or phrases in your search can make your search too narrow. Try removing one of your search terms and searching again.

Are there other words/synonyms that could describe the concepts in your topic? Try replacing one or more of your search terms with a different word. Or, search for singular and plural forms of a word at the same time by adding an ampersand (&) to the end of the singular form of a word (knife& will find knife and knives). You can also find words with spellings similar to your search term by using the tilde (~) symbol at the end of a search term (dostoyevsky~ will find variant spellings like dostoevsky, dostoievski, dostoyevski, dostoevskii, etc).

Did you limit your search by item type or publication date? Try your search again and remove or modify that limiter.

When you are happy with your results, click here to learn how to save, print and export articles.


Get More Relevant Results

Narrowing your results by discipline (subject area) can help improve their relevance. To modify your search to limit by discipline, click Modify Search near the top of your results page, to the right of the search box. This will bring you back to your original search. If you used the Basic Search, click the Advanced Search link and re-enter your search terms -- you must use the Advanced Search to narrow by discipline. 

Click in the checkboxes under Narrow by Discipline/Publication Title to limit to one or more subject areas. 

Another way to get more relevant results in JSTOR is by using the caret symbol (^) to increase the importance of your search term. Add the ^ followed by a number after your important search term. For example, searching for

cat^7 dog

makes an occurrence of the word cat in an item seven times more important than the word dog. Give it a try!

When you are happy with your results, click here to learn how to save, print and export articles.


Save, Print and Export Articles

To save your articles in JSTOR, you need to create a free account. Click on the article title you want to save, and then click Save Citation in the Tools box. You will be prompted to create a username and password. Once you have created an account, you will be able to save article citations and searches. 

To save your article to your RefWorks account, click Export Citation in the Tools box, and select RefWorks.

The Tools box also gives you the option to Email Citation or View PDF. The PDF version of your article can then be printed or downloaded to your computer.


Still Need Help?

Do you need additional help finding what you need? Ask a friendly librarian! Click here for our phone number, email address and 24/7 chat services.


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