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How to Use JSTOR: Searching JSTOR

Searching JSTOR

JSTOR supports full-text keyword searching across all of the content on www.jstor.org. JSTOR generally includes all the content from articles, books, and pamphlets, cover to cover. This makes it possible to search front matter and back matter, letters to the editor, advertisements, and other types of material along with scholarly articles and book chapters. 

JSTOR screenshot

Combining Search Terms & Boolean Logic

You may combine search terms and fields using AND, OR, and NOT (Boolean logic).

AND: When you combine search terms with AND in a full-text search, your results contain everything in which both terms appear. Combining search terms makes your search results more precise. You can explicitly denote AND in the following ways: cat AND dog, cat && dog, +cat +dog, (cat dog)

OR: Using OR between search terms allows to you find all items that contain either term. Using OR will search for items that contain either the word "cat", the word "dog", or both. For example: cat OR dog

NOT: Searches using NOT will only find items that do not contain the search term following it. NOT must be capitalized. To find all items with the word cat that do not contain the word dog, search for: cat NOT dog, cat -dog (Be sure to include a space before the dash, but not after). 

Grouping Combined Search Terms

Parentheses allow you to determine the order in which terms are combined. The search "currency reform" AND (russia OR "soviet union") will search for items that contain the phrase currency reform and that contain either russia or soviet union. Without grouping parentheses, the search is interpreted as "currency reform" AND russia OR "soviet union," which returns items containing either both currency reform and russia or containing soviet union. By using parentheses, you may control the grouping of search terms.

Additional examples:

  • (finch OR sparrow) AND exotic will search for items that contain the word exotic and either the word finch or the word sparrow
  • (birds OR butterflies) NOT sparrow will search for items that contain either the word birds or butterflies and do not contain the word sparrow
  • birds NOT (sparrow AND robin) will search for items that contain the word birds but do not contain both the words sparrow and robin
  • birds NOT (sparrow OR robin) will search for items that contain the word birds but do not contain either the word sparrow or the word robin

Searching for an Exact Phrase

If you want to include more than one term in a field search, use parentheses () to enclose your search terms, or quotation marks (" ") to search for an exact phrase. The example above ("american revolution") searches for the exact phrase "american revolution" rather than treating it as a phrase search (american AND revolution).

Some other examples:

  • ti:cat dog will find the word cat in the item title field and the word dog in any field  
  • ti:(cat dog) will find the words cat and dog in the item title field in any order 
  • ti:"color purple" will find the exact phrase color purple in the item title field
  • ti:(peacekeeping AND "united nations") will find the word peacekeeping and the phrase united nations in the item title field

Searching for Multiple Spellings of a Word

Using the tilde symbol: You can find words with spellings similar to your search term by using the tilde (~) symbol at the end of a search term. For example, ti:dostoyevsky~ helps find items with dostoyevsky in the item title field, as well as variant spellings like dostoevsky, dostoievski, dostoevsky, dostoyevski, dostoevskii, dostoevski, etc. Note: This way of searching encompasses a very large number of words. Narrowing this kind of search to the item title or another field is recommended. The first letter always remains the same.

Wildcards: Wildcards take the place of one or more characters in a search term. A question mark is used for single character searching. An asterisk is used for multiple character searching. Wildcards are used to search for alternate spellings and variations on a root word. Wildcard characters cannot be used in place of the first letter of a word or within an exact phrase search. For example:

wom?n finds the words woman, women, womyn,
bird* finds bird, birding, birdman, birds, and other words that start with bird
organi?ation finds organization or organisation
behavior* searches for behavior, behavioral, behaviorist, behaviorism, or behaviorally

You can combine search terms containing wild cards (wom?n AND "science education") and they may be used in a field search: au:sm?th or ti:shakespeare* 

Using Field Abbreviations

You can narrow search results to a variety of item or journal information. This is possible because JSTOR uses fields for categorization of metadata. Each field is represented in a search by its abbreviation. The example above (au:smith) will find all items for which Smith is listed as an author. Appending ty:fla to a search ("great gatsby" ty:fla) will limit a search to full-length articles, and ty:brv will limit a search to book reviews. 

Other frequently used field abbreviations are:

Other Common Abbreviations
Code Returns results from: Example
jo: Journal title field jo:econometrica
ta: Article title field (does not search books title field) ta:modernism
ab:

Item abstract field (please note that only about 10% of articles on JSTOR include abstracts)

ab:microfinance
ca: Illustration caption field ca:rembrandt
vo: Journal Volume field vo:134

Other less commonly used field abbreviations include:
cty:(book) = book
cty:pamphlet = pamphlet
rt: title of a reviewed work
so: or jo: journal title
no: issue or number
sn: or in: International Standard Serials Number (ISSN)

Understanding Search Results

Search Results

The format and display of search results is the same for Basic and Advanced searches.

  • Use "Content Type" menu to filter results by journal articles, ebook chapters, and pamphlets.
  • Use the "Subject" menu to limit results to journals related to specific subjects.
  • Use the "Publication Date" menu to limit results to a certain publication time period.
  • Use the "Sort by" menu to view search results by relevance, oldest items, or newest items. 

Quick Tips

JSTOR supports full-text keyword searching across all of the content on the site.

Using the Basic Search

  • Place words within quotation marks to search for exact phrases (“to be or not to be”).
  • Use Boolean operators to construct a better search (“tea trade” AND china).
  • Use ti: to search for the title of an article or book (ti:"body ritual among the nacirema")

Contact Your Librarian

Please contact the Library at 760-245-4271, ext. 2262, if you have any questions or experience any problems with the Library Databases.

Or email the Systems Librarian at yvonne.reed@vvc.edu