JSTOR Tutorial

JSTOR is an easy-to-use database that provides access to multidisciplinary scholarly articles, books, reviews, and primary sources. There is a waiting period, called the "moving wall," between when articles are published and when they are available through JSTOR, which typically ranges from 3 to 5 years. JSTOR does not search newspaper or popular magazine articles.

Basic Search

To conduct a basic search within JSTOR, start by entering keywords in the search bar. JSTOR automatically searches full text and puts the word "and" between terms. To search for a phrase or exact wording, put quotes around the terms.

An example of the JSTOR search function showing the search term fire behavior in quotations

Advanced Search

To conduct an advanced search, click on Search at the top of the page or select Advanced Search from the Search dropdown menu. Search for terms found in the body of the article (in the "full-text" field) or for author, title, abstract, or image caption. Searching for a term in the abstract or caption fields will limit results only to items that have an abstract or image caption. For broadest searching, search for terms in the "full-text" field.

A screenshot of the main JSTOR search page with the Advanced Search links circled; one on the top left of the page and one under the Basic Search bar

Broaden a search

Narrow or broaden a search by using Boolean operators AND, OR, and/or NOT; learn more about these terms on the BLM Library's Search Tips page. Add up to five additional search fields by using the Add Field + button. JSTOR's Advanced Search also enables users to search for terms that are within 5, 10, or 25 words of each other by using the NEAR 5, NEAR 10, or NEAR 25 operators. For example, the query below will return results with the term "drought" appearing within 5 words of the term "Colorado" in the body of the article ("full-text"). Search terms are not case sensitive.

A screenshot of the JSTOR advanced search function searching for a keyword "drought." The search functions "all fields" is circled on the dropdown menu to the left of the search box, and near 5 is circled on a dropdown menu to the right of the second keyword search box.

Narrow a Search

Narrow a search by specifying item types, date range, language, disciplines, and/or publication titles. Click on the plus sign next to a discipline to see a list of associated journal titles, and check the boxes for the journal titles to include in the search.

A screenshot of the "Narrow Results" section of the JSTOR search tool

Organize Results

Organize results by sorting by relevance or date and/or changing the number of items shown per page. JSTOR defaults to showing only results to which users have access; to see all results, select All content from the Show drop list. For access to items not available to BLM users through JSTOR, contact the BLM Library at blm_library@blm.gov. To find more of an author's work, click on the author's name in the results list. Results will only include articles in publications held by JSTOR.

A screenshot of the JSTOR search results page for "drought Colorado" with "Sort By: Relevance" circled in red

A screenshot of a JSTOR search results page with the "Content I Can Access" option circled in red

Create Citations

Quickly create citations by clicking on the "Cite this item" box to the left of the desired article in the results list. JSTOR provides citations in APA, MLA, and Chicago styles. The citations can then be copy and pasted or exported.

Other tools include viewing the article in PDF format and viewing, exporting, saving, or tracking the citation. To print an article, view or download the PDF first and select the print option from the open PDF. Additional options include references to the selected article and lists of publications by the author in JSTOR and in Google Scholar.

A screenshot of a JSTOR results page with the "Cite this item" button circled in red on the right side of the image

Analyze Text

Quickly retrieve an array of relevant articles using JSTOR’s new Text Analyzer tool. Go to Tools --> Text Analyzer to upload any text document (like an article, a white paper that’s still in progress, or a photo of a book page) to find similar content in JSTOR. On the results page, you can reprioritize the identified search terms and add keywords of your own.

This is useful if you’re not having much success using traditional keyword searching or if you want to quickly access articles cited in another document.

Note: Text Analyzer is still in Beta, so it may not always be accurate. Make sure to double check your search results.

A screenshot of the JSTOR Text Analyzer page with the Tools dropdown menu circled on the top left of the page and the document upload box circled in red at the center of the page

A screenshot of JSTOR's Text Analyzer results page with the Prioritized terms,Search filters, and Identified terms options circled in red.


Searching Tips

Some final tips for crafting search queries:

Including # (pound sign) or & (ampersand) at the end of a word will search for variations of a word. For example, a search for goose# or goose& will return results that include goose, geese, and gosling. Find words with similar spellings by using ~ (tilde) at the end of a word. For example, a search for Dostoevsky~ will return variant spellings such as Dostoevski, Dostoyevsky, and Dostoyevski. Replace a single letter with ? (question mark) for alternate spellings. For example, a search for globali?ation will return both globalization and globalisation. This is useful for words with different American and British spelling. Use * (asterisk) as a wildcard to replace more than one letter and search for variant endings of a word. For example, bird* will return bird, birds, birding, and other terms starting with "bird." Do not use the wildcard as the first letter or when using quotes around a title or phrase.


Are you ready to test out your new searching skills? Head over to JSTOR to get started.

Although these tips should yield improved results, it's hard to beat a professional librarian for fast and effective searching. For assistance with identifying and accessing publications, contact the BLM librarians at blm_library@blm.gov.

Library Services

The BLM Library, located at the National Operations Center in Denver, exists to serve BLM employees across the country. We also are able to assist members of the general public who seek BLM publications and information. We are the BLM's only full-service library with professional staff. 

Questions? Want to request an item? Contact the BLM Library or visit the Library FAQ.