Skip to Main Content

Art History Module: Lesson 4: JSTOR


JSTOR is a slightly more advanced database that is very strong in the humanities and fine arts. There are many great art and history journals in JSTOR. This database is on the Recommended Databases listings and is also listed under the Fine Arts subject category.

Direct Link to JSTOR

The following video tutorial introduces you to accessing and using this database.

JSTOR from Lawrence W. Tyree Library on Vimeo.

This video tutorial will demonstrate how to find and access articles through the library database JSTOR.

To access library databases, click the gray Databases button on the library website.

JSTOR is listed in the Library's Recommended Databases. JSTOR is a core database for many disciplines, including humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences. It also includes many historical articles, dating to the 1800s. To access this database, click its title.

To log in, your username is your SF ID number On the next screen, enter your college password.

This is the advanced search screen for JSTOR. Unlike other databases, JSTOR does not use subject headings or controlled vocabulary. Therefore, you will need to be as precise as possible in your search terms. Use quotation marks to keep phrases together and include alternate keywords with the term OR. Place different concepts in separate search boxes.

Let's say you were looking for articles about the ethics of euthanasia. Another term for euthanasia is assisted suicide. Since these are synonyms, both terms can be placed in the first search box with the word OR between. Assisted suicide can be placed in quotation marks to keep the phrase together. In the second search box, I typed ethic*. This tells the database to search all words that start with ethic, which includes ethics and ethical.

euthanasia OR "assisted suicide"
AND ethic*

JSTOR is mostly peer-reviewed journals, so there is no limit for scholarly articles. However, there are several different types of formats, so you may wish to limit to Articles. You may also need to limit the language to English.

JSTOR also allows you to limit your search to results found in journals of different disciplines. Scroll down to see the Journal Filters. Be sure to carefully examine all listed disciplines, as many topics may fit in several categories. For a search about the ethics of euthanasia, two good disciplines to check would be Health Sciences and Philosophy.

On the results page, the article titles are blue and bolded, followed by the authors and journal information. Click the title to view the article.

The article record contains an embedded version of the article with a Download PDF button. There is also an option to Cite this Item.

If you are using a personal computer with an email program installed and configured (such as Outlook or Thunderbird), you may email a link to the article by clicking Share and then Email. This link will take you back the article after you log in.

Click Download PDF to open the article in PDF format. If you do not have an email program installed and configured, you can save the PDF, open your email account, and send yourself an email with the article as an attachment.

To cite the article, click Cite this Item, but be aware that the generated citations are not usually correct. JSTOR provides citations in APA, MLA, and Chicago Notes and Bibliography format.

If your search results do not seem relevant enough, you may want to consider limiting your search terms to Item Title. This will narrow your results considerably, but may eliminate many relevant articles that do not use your search terms in the title of the article or journal.

This concludes the video tutorial on using JSTOR. If you still have questions, please contact a librarian:

Building Y, NW Campus

Test Yourself!

Go to JSTOR. Search for Athena Parthenos sculpture and check the Articles box.

Look for the article written by Gorham P. Stevens. In what year was this published?


Search Tips

Phrase Searching

To keep a phrase together, enclose them in quotation marks: "mona lisa"

Title Limits

JSTOR does not have subjects or controlled vocabulary, so you may sometimes have a hard time retrieving relevant results. One trick you can use is to limit a term to the title of the article by changing the drop-down box to Item Title.

JSTOR search for: item title = "mona lisa"

Be very careful with this strategy. Any article that does not specifically have your keywords in the title will not be displayed. This means you may be eliminating many good titles. However, it is sometimes worth a try to see if there are more specific articles. When using the Item Title search, be sure to use as few words as possible.

Journal Limits

When searching in JSTOR, you may choose to limit to particular journal disciplines to retrieve articles with specific focuses.

The Art & History discipline should always be checked, but be sure to look for other relevant disciplines, such as History, or relevant geographical areas to your topic like Asian Studies.

Art & Art History journal subset

Fixing Generated Citations

JSTOR will provide a generated citation by clicking the Cite This Item button. You will use the Chicago citation as a base.

Cite This Item button in JSTOR

Typically JSTOR Chicago citations will follow the Chicago Notes & Bibliography format, but you should carefully review all capitalization, look for extra punctuation, and verify that all information is correct.

Example Citation

Bohrn, Isabel, Claus-Christian Carbon, and Florian Hutzler. "Mona Lisa's Smile—Perception or Deception?" Psychological Science 21, no. 3 (2010): 378-80.