Getting Better Results with JSTOR

Tips for searching this database

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Necia Parker Gibson
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Five Top Tips for Searching in JSTOR

1. JSTOR doesn't have a thesaurus or list of subject terms.Therefore, you may have to use synonyms OR'ed together, field tags, which mark parts of a citation, or both, to draw up a more specific set.  

For example: ti:(Twelfth Night OR 12th Night) for the play's title IN an item's title

2. You may use quotation marks around a phrase to make JSTOR search for it as that phrase.

For example: "wine production"

For example: "Plutarch's Lives"

3. You can use * as a truncation symbol; a stem word and * , like comput*, gets compute, computation, computers, computing and so on.

JSTOR does look for other forms of some words, such as plurals and related terms, if you add an ampersand & to the end of a word. For example, person& finds person and people; sky& retrieves sky and skies.

4. Search for specific authors in three possible ways:

  • aa:Item Author,
  • ra:Author-of-a-Reviewed-Work
  • au:Name format to get either one in the same set.

JSTOR will default to other similar authors' names if it doesn't find the exact one.

5. Use the advanced search in JSTOR to limit a search to a particular publication type, like article or book review (check article or review under item type) in the advanced search pages, as well as to select a set of journals from a particular discipline. That is one way to get fewer results while increasing the specificity of the set.

JSTOR search help

Searching in JSTOR, continued

Search JSTOR using your chosen terms. AND is assumed between words. OR works only if in capital letters. NOT or the minus sign - can be used to exclude terms. Do not put a space between the mark and the search term.

For example, searches like:

"James Joyce" Ulysses (oeuvre OR "body of work")

"water quality" (benthic OR lotic) macroinvertebrates -riparian

should work better than putting in complete sentences .

Use the "Find It" link [more direct] or the "Library Search" link to locate items if you have set your preferences to work with our Libraries' pages. 

If you have a search term and you will accept results with either singular or plural forms of the term, you may put an ampersand (&) after the singular form and get both forms, including unusual forms. For example,

sky& gets results with sky or skies; knife& gets knife or knives.