Writing a paper can be overwhelming. If you’re a student or researcher who is not familiar with JSTOR, we are here to help. This guide will give you practical steps to use JSTOR to create searches that are based on your topic or assignment. Additionally, learn how to narrow search into the best results for you and use a other JSTOR features to help organize your research and writing.
What's in This Article:
Creating a Search Based on Your Topic
Scenario: you get a course assignment similar to the following: Using library research, identify a monument you want to research. Find at least five resources that give you a sense of that monument’s history: the event that precipitated the memorial, the origins of the memorial, any controversies surrounding the monument, etc. What is the dominant narrative this site tells and what is the subversive narrative that may be read between the lines?
While all of content on JSTOR are considered scholarly sources, some of the older content may not be peer-reviewed. Clarify with your instructor whether you need peer-reviewed items before starting your assignment research.
First, we have to choose a monument. For our purposes, let’s talk about the Vietnam Memorial. You can use "Vietnam Memorial" as the keywords in your search.
Once you've identified some keywords, the next thing you’ll want to do is search the term to get a sense of what's available. Start by going to jstor.org and entering your keyword "Vietnam Memorial" in the search box.
You might see a lot of results in the result count (23.1K results in this case) as well as several options on how you would like to search for your keyword or phrase:
Rather than manually reviewing this many results, you may want to decrease the number of results to separate the useful content from the rest. Identify other keywords from your research project that might help your search be more specific.
For example: If you enter "Vietnam Memorial narrative controversy," including the quotes for exact phrasing and additional context, the search results decrease. For details on how to narrow or broaden yoru search results, learn more from JSTOR Search tips.
Helpful places to start once you're ready to refine your results:
- Boolean Searching will help you get really specific with your searches by expanding or narrowing what's included in the results.
- Exact Phrase Searching is for when you're looking for something specific like an author name or article title.
Note: If you want to learn even more about how to do great research, take a look at our Research Basics course. This self-paced, online class will teach you what you need to know if you're new to academic research.
Saving Your Work
As you narrow your search, you should start to see items you may want to read more closely. Registering for a free personal account is particularly helpful in this case because, once logged into your account, it can help you keep track of your research, no matter what school or location you're accessing JSTOR from.
Once you are signed in, if you'd like to save articles you find helpful, you can keep track of them within the JSTOR website by clicking the “Save” button on the right side of the search results.
Learn more about how to use Workspace for your research
If you prefer to use a different way to keep citations (like Endnote or RefWorks) you can click to “Cite” the image or article instead. Once you select the option to export the bibliographic information for that article to another citation manager system.
Learn more about exporting citations in Citation Management: Exporting Citations from JSTOR.
Other ways to find content
If you have a more complex search (usually one requiring logic or more than one keyword), you may try using the Advanced Search feature. Advanced Search, unlike the general search bar, allows you to break up a big search into smaller pieces. Using the Advanced Search on JSTOR can help you get more specific about exactly the kinds of content you want to see.
For example: if you only want to see journal articles, not books, you can check off journals in the "Narrow By: Item Type" section of that page.
If you have found an especially relevant article on JSTOR and want to find more like it, you can use that article to do further searching through our Text Analyzer feature. To do this, upload the document you found, and Text Analyzer will find other articles similar to the one you upload.