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Type of site
Digital library
Available inEnglish (includes content in other languages)
OwnerIthaka Harbors, Inc.[1]
Created byAndrew W. Mellon Foundation
Founder(s)William G. Bowen
Launched1994; 30 years ago (1994)
Current statusActive
OCLC number46609535
Websitewww.jstor.org Edit this at Wikidata
Title list(s)support.jstor.org/hc/en-us/articles/115007466248-JSTOR-Title-Lists

JSTOR (/ˈstɔːr/ JAY-stor; short for Journal Storage)[2] is a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary sources founded in 1994. 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.[3] It provides full-text searches of almost 2,000 journals. Most access is by subscription but some of the site is public domain, and open access content is available free of charge.[4]


William G. Bowen, president of Princeton University from 1972 to 1988,[5] founded JSTOR in 1994. 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.[6]

Bowen initially considered using CD-ROMs for distribution.[7] 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vice president for Computing and Information Technology, convinced Bowen that CD-ROM was becoming an increasingly outdated technology and that network distribution could eliminate redundancy and increase accessibility.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.[8]

With the success of this limited project, Bowen, Fuchs, 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.[8] 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.[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]

In 2019, JSTOR's revenue was $79 million.[11]


JSTOR content is provided by more than 900 publishers.[12] The database contains more than 12 million journal articles, in more than 75 disciplines.[10] 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.[citation needed]

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.[17]

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.[18]

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.[19]

Reveal Digital is a JSTOR-hosted collection of documents produced by or about underground, marginalized and dissenting 20th century communities.[20] Reveal Digital's open access content includes zines, prison newspapers, AIDS art, student-movement documents, black civil rights materials, and a white supremacy archive.[20]


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.[3] 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.[21] Individual subscriptions also are available to certain journal titles through the journal publisher.[22] Every year, JSTOR blocks 150 million attempts by non-subscribers to read articles.[23]

Inquiries have been made about the possibility of making JSTOR open access. According to Harvard Law professor, JSTOR had been asked "how much would it cost to make this available to the whole world, how much would we need to pay.".[24]

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.[25][26] 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 JSTOR reached a settlement wherein Swartz surrendered the downloaded data.[25][26]

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.[27][28] Prosecutors in the case claimed that Swartz acted with the intention of making the papers available on P2P file-sharing sites.[26][29]

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.[30][31] The case still was pending when Swartz died by suicide in January 2013.[32]


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.[33]

In 2010, JSTOR started adding current issues of certain journals through its Current Scholarship Program.[34]

Increasing public access

Beginning September 6, 2011, JSTOR made public domain content available at no charge to the public.[35][36] 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.[35][36][37] 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.[35][36] 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".[38]

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.[39] Registered readers may read up to six articles online every calendar month, but may not print or download PDFs.[40]

In 2013, more than 8,000 institutions in more than 160 countries had access to JSTOR.[12]

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.[41][42]


In 2012, JSTOR users performed nearly 152 million searches, with more than 113 million article views and 73.5 million article downloads.[12] 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.[43][44][45]

JSTOR metadata is available through CrossRef and the Unpaywall dump,[46] 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).[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ a b "About". Ithaka. Archived from the original on April 30, 2012. Retrieved October 25, 2009.
  2. ^ Douglas F. Morgan; Marcus D. Ingle; Craig W. Shinn (September 3, 2018). New Public Leadership: Making a Difference from Where We Sit. Routledge. p. 82. ISBN 9780429832918. Archived from the original on August 3, 2020. Retrieved June 3, 2020. JSTOR means journal storage, which is an online service created in 1994 to provide electronic access to an extensive array of academic journals.
  3. ^ a b Genicot, Léopold (February 13, 2012). "At a glance". Études Rurales (PDF) (45): 131–133. JSTOR 20120213.
  4. ^ "Register and read beta". Archived from the original on October 1, 2013. Retrieved January 14, 2013.
  5. ^ Leitch, Alexander (1978). "Bowen, William Gordon". A Princeton Companion. Archived from the original on October 11, 2017.
  6. ^ "About: Mission and history". JSTOR. Retrieved December 12, 2023.
  7. ^ Schonfeld, Roger C. (2003). JSTOR: A History. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-11531-3. JSTOR j.ctt7s6z3.
  8. ^ 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. S2CID 72658238.
  9. ^ Guthrie, Kevin M. (1999). "JSTOR: Large Scale Digitization of Journals in the United States" (pdf). LIBER Quarterly. 9 (3): 291. doi:10.18352/lq.7546. ISSN 1435-5205.
  10. ^ a b "About: Mission and history". JSTOR. Archived from the original on December 29, 2022. Retrieved December 29, 2022.
  11. ^ "Form 990 for period ending December 2019" (pdf). Nonprofit Explorer. ProPublica.
  12. ^ a b c "Annual Summary" (PDF). JSTOR. March 19, 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 11, 2013. Retrieved April 13, 2013.
  13. ^ "Citation Management: Permanently Linking to Content on JSTOR". Support. JSTOR. Archived from the original on October 9, 2021. Retrieved October 9, 2021.
  14. ^ Data for Research Archived September 2, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. JSTOR.
  15. ^ JSTOR Plant Science Archived December 26, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. JSTOR.
  16. ^ Global Plants Initiative Archived December 8, 2015, at the Wayback Machine. JSTOR.
  17. ^ "Global Plants Initiative (GPI) | Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew". www.kew.org. Retrieved June 2, 2024.
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  22. ^ "Individual subscriptions". JSTOR. Archived from the original on September 8, 2012. Retrieved December 1, 2012.
  23. ^ Every Year, JSTOR Turns Away 150 Million Attempts to Read Journal Articles Archived November 16, 2016, at the Wayback Machine. The Atlantic. Retrieved January 29, 2013.
  24. ^ Lessig on "Aaron's Laws—Law and Justice in a Digital Age" Archived March 24, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. YouTube (February 20, 2013). Retrieved on 2014-04-12.
  25. ^ a b "JSTOR Statement: Misuse Incident and Criminal Case". JSTOR. July 19, 2011. Archived from the original on January 12, 2013. Retrieved January 14, 2013.
  26. ^ a b c Carter, Zach; Grim, Ryan; Reilly, Ryan J. (January 12, 2013). "Aaron Swartz, Internet Pioneer, Found Dead Amid Prosecutor 'Bullying' In Unconventional Case". Huffington Post. Archived from the original on January 20, 2013. Retrieved January 13, 2013.
  27. ^ Bilton, Nick (July 19, 2011). "Internet activist charged in M.I.T. data theft". Bits Blog, The New York Times website. Archived from the original on July 21, 2011. Retrieved December 1, 2012.
  28. ^ Schwartz, John (July 19, 2011). "Open-Access Advocate Is Arrested for Huge Download". New York Times. Archived from the original on July 22, 2011. Retrieved July 19, 2011.
  29. ^ Lindsay, Jay (July 19, 2011). "Feds: Harvard fellow hacked millions of papers". Associated Press. Archived from the original on January 16, 2013. Retrieved July 20, 2011.
  30. ^ Ortiz, Carmen (July 19, 2011). "Alleged Hacker Charged with Stealing over Four Million Documents from MIT Network". The United States Attorney's Office". Archived from the original on July 24, 2011.
  31. ^ Kravets, David (September 18, 2012). "Feds Charge Activist with 13 Felonies for Rogue Downloading of Academic Articles". Wired. Archived from the original on February 19, 2014. Retrieved March 7, 2017.
  32. ^ "Aaron Swartz, internet freedom activist, dies aged 26" (Archived January 13, 2013, at the Wayback Machine), BBC News.
  33. ^ "Moving wall". JSTOR. Archived from the original on June 25, 2012. Retrieved October 19, 2010.
  34. ^ "About current journals". JSTOR. Archived from the original on November 26, 2012. Retrieved December 1, 2012.
  35. ^ a b c Brown, Laura (September 7, 2011). "JSTOR–Free Access to Early Journal Content and Serving 'Unaffiliated' Users". JSTOR. Archived from the original on April 15, 2013. Retrieved June 8, 2021.
  36. ^ a b c Rapp, David (September 7, 2011). "JSTOR Announces Free Access to 500K Public Domain Journal Articles". Library Journal. Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved October 21, 2015.
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  38. ^ "About JSTOR: Frequently Asked Questions". JSTOR. Archived from the original on May 11, 2017. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
  39. ^ Tilsley, Alexandra (January 9, 2013). "Journal Archive Opens Up (Some)". Inside Higher Ed. Archived from the original on January 6, 2015. Retrieved January 6, 2015.
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  43. ^ 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.
  44. ^ Wilson, Robin (October 22, 2012). "Scholarly Publishing's Gender Gap". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Archived from the original on January 6, 2015. Retrieved January 6, 2015.
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  46. ^ Heather (September 14, 2018). "It's time to insist on #openinfrastructure for #openscience". OurResearch blog. Archived from the original on June 30, 2020. Retrieved April 25, 2020.

Further reading

External links