- JSTOR is a not-for-profit organization, founded to help academic libraries and publishers.
JSTOR is a shared digital library created in 1995 to help university and college libraries free up space on their shelves, save costs, and provide greater levels of access to more content than ever before. More generally, by digitizing content to high standards and supporting its long-term preservation, we also aim to help libraries and academic publishers transition their activities from print to digital operations. Our objective is to expand access to scholarly content around the world and to preserve it for future generations. We provide access to some or all of the content free of charge when we believe we can do so while still meeting our long-term obligations.
JSTOR currently includes nearly 2,500 academic journals, dating back to the first volume ever published, along with thousands of monographs and other materials relevant for education. We have digitized more than 69 million pages and continue to digitize approximately 3 million pages annually.
Our activities, our fee structure, and the way we manage the service and its resources reflect our historical commitment to serve colleges and universities as a trusted digital archive, and our responsibility to publishers as stewards of their content. This underlying philosophy at JSTOR remains the core of our service even as we continue to seek ways to expand access to people beyond academic institutions.
- JSTOR is not a publisher, and we do not ask for exclusive rights to the content on the platform.
We do not hold the copyright to any of the content we make available. We obtain licenses to preserve and make published content available digitally from publishers, most of whom are not-for-profit scholarly societies and university presses. Our ability to provide access to others is dependent of the rights publishers hold and those they provide to us.
Our licenses from publishers are non-exclusive, meaning that the publishers are free to license their content to others to digitize or make it available in any way they wish.
- Fees are charged to cover our costs.
JSTOR digitizes millions of pages of scholarly content each year, provides reliable 24/7 access to people in 170+ countries, invests in new technologies to support the use of this content, provides outreach and support for our constituents, pays license fees to content owners, and ensures the preservation of the content over time. We do this with funds provided by thousands of libraries and institutions, all of whom are our partners in disseminating access around the globe.
- JSTOR offers great economic value for libraries.
Our fee models are designed to provide the broadest possible access to scholarship while also ensuring that access is reliable and that it will be available for future generations. Fees for JSTOR collections have remained unchanged since 1997. There have been no annual or cost of living increases, even though additional content is added each year with the “moving wall.” Fees for access vary based on the type of institution. Research universities contribute much higher fees than small colleges. Community colleges, public libraries, and high schools pay much less for access to the same content and service. Many institutions even have free access (see point #6).
- JSTOR is widely available to walk-in library users.
Every library in our network of more than 10,000 institutions worldwide is authorized to provide access to the content on JSTOR for walk-in users for free. Public libraries, such as Boston Public or the San Francisco Public, may provide off-site access to library card holders. Libraries may also use JSTOR for electronic interlibrary loan, providing a way for people to gain access even if their local libraries are not among those that participate in JSTOR.
- JSTOR provides free or low cost access to more than 1,500 institutions in 69 countries.
More than 1,500 institutions in Africa and other developing nations receive access to JSTOR free of charge or for steeply reduced fees. This is made possible through a combination of philanthropic support and the fees paid by libraries in other countries around the world, as well as publishers’ eagerness to support this work. You can read about the history of our work in this area and a discussion of how we moved beyond access to impact.
- JSTOR provides free access to hundreds of thousands of articles in the public domain, and our work does not impact the copyright status of this content.
While the majority of journal content preserved by and made available through JSTOR is licensed from publishers, some is in the public domain. In September 2011, we released Early Journal Content, which made nearly 500,000 public domain articles from more than 200 journals freely available to the public on the JSTOR platform. Early Journal Content includes U.S. content published before 1923 and non-U.S. content published prior to 1870.
The public domain content we preserve and make available remains in the public domain. This means that people can freely undertake their own digitization of these works and distribute them in any way they may wish. Google, for example, has digitized and makes available some of the same public domain content also available from JSTOR. People may also redistribute the Early Journal Content files from JSTOR for non-commercial purposes.
We are able to make the Early Journal Content freely available because it is in the public domain and because JSTOR continues to charge fees for access to some content in order to cover costs of providing access to and preserving the entire library for the long-term.
- Research articles on the JSTOR platform are largely from the social sciences and the humanities, and generally were not “taxpayer funded.”
Some assume that the content included on the JSTOR platform has been funded by taxpayers and therefore should be freely accessible to all. Although there is no way to know how many of the millions of articles published over many years may have received government support in whole or in part, the content on JSTOR comes from a broad range of disciplines, predominantly in the humanities, social sciences, and field sciences. Unlike in the medical and other bench sciences, these disciplines are not generally supported by government research grants. The societies responsible for publishing most of the journals in JSTOR are non-governmental not-for-profit enterprises. Even if the research in these titles had been taxpayer funded, that would not eliminate the costs associated with digitizing the print journals, organizing the digitized content, making it conveniently searchable and accessible on the web, and preserving it for the long-term.
- JSTOR steadily has made progress in expanding access options for individuals.
JSTOR was created as a resource for the academic community, but as digital technology has become more ubiquitous, there is increased awareness of and interest in this content from the general public. As early as 1999 we established a program through which more than 110 publishers now provide access to the complete contents of their 350 journals on JSTOR directly to individuals, some as a benefit of society membership and some for a fee.
In 2006, we made arrangements for Google to index the full-text content in JSTOR. This facilitated access for students and faculty using Google for search and introduced JSTOR to millions of people around the world. The relationships we had established with publishers, libraries, and researchers in JSTOR’s first phase did not take into account this new worldwide demand from individuals not affiliated with institutions. We have therefore taken steps, working with publishers that own the content, to meet this new demand.
We established a publisher sales service that enables publishers, at their discretion, to make individual articles available for sale through JSTOR; approximately 850 journals are now part of that program. The price for purchasing individual articles is set by each publisher and includes a flat fee to cover JSTOR’s costs for providing the service.
In 2012, we launched Register & Read, an experimental program to offer free, read-online limited use access to anyone who registers for a MyJSTOR account. The program was greatly expanded in late 2012 and currently makes more than 1,900 journals available for online reading with a free account.
In 2013 we launched JPASS, our latest effort to make JSTOR available to people beyond universities, colleges, and high schools. With JPASS, individuals can choose a monthly or annual pass that provides access to approximately 2,100 journals from JSTOR’s archive collection.
- JSTOR supports data and text mining.
JSTOR first started thinking about data and text mining back in 1999, when we learned that Fred Shapiro was using JSTOR to find the earliest known uses of words that predated the record of first uses of terms from the Oxford English Dictionary. In 2008, JSTOR introduced the “Data for Research” (DfR) service, a free data-mining tool for journal content on JSTOR available to the public. DfR provides the ability to obtain data sets via bulk downloads and includes a powerful faceted search interface, online viewing of document-level data, downloadable datasets (including word frequencies, citations, key terms, and n-grams). More than 700 data sets have been downloaded annually since the service launched. We also receive many special requests for access to even larger-scale datasets for research of various kinds and we work with researchers to tailor datasets to their needs.