JStor is a large database housing a wide range of primary and secondary sources. No content is created by JStor, it is a means of searching for content produced by researchers. It includes full length scholarly articles in the following subjects: Anthropology, Asian Studies, Ecology, Economics, Education, Finance, History, Mathematics, Philosophy, Political Science, Population Studies and Sociology. JStor has what is known as a ‘moving wall’ for the available date range of sources. This means the database will have most or all articles from a database up to five years ago. As time progresses, more recent articles become available for upload.
There are a number of different ways a researcher can search the database. The first is a quick search from the home page. The search will pull all information from the entire database, and if the search terminology is not specific there can be hundreds of thousands of results. JStor is most effective when using the advanced search option. It is possible to search multiple fields such as whether the input is within the text of an article, an author, in the title, abstract, or caption. Under the advanced search, a researcher can narrow the search within the database to a few criteria. This can be an item type (article, book, review, etc), a specific date range, language, or publication title. It is also possible to only search publications within a specific discipline. Performing a search will show all results within the criteria set. Each result will provide the title, page numbers, author, publication, and date. There are two options when viewing a result: the researcher can view the result online or download a PDF to their computer.
Each source within JStor has all the relevant information to site the particular source. The first page of every entry has a citation at the top of the page that includes the title, author, publication, page number, date, and number of pages.
Launching in 1995, JStor was conceived as a way to provide academia with a wide range of academic works being published. The founders would digitize articles by scanning each page as a TIFF document, compile the pages into a single file, and add then add the file to the ever-increasing database, which could then be accessed by institutions or individuals.
Most reviews about JStor are positive. They agree that having access to such a rich database allows a researcher to save time trying to find sources for their work, and to have a much larger library of materials to work with. One of the main critiques is that, because the database is so large, searching the database with more generic terms will provide too many results to look through. They then said the addition of filtering results by subject matter has helped parse down the results in a more meaningful manner.
JStor is a paid subscription to the database. There are two main options for gaining access to JStor: Institutional access or Individual access. Institutions can pay for access to the entire database or for specific journals. Individuals can purchase a one month or one year plan for access to the database for that time frame.