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Modern & Contemporary American Poetry & Poetics


JSTOR (short for “Journal Storage”) is a leading digital collection of academic journals, books, reports, images, and primary sources. JSTOR has a much broader focus than MLA in that it covers all of the humanities, history, and the social sciences. For this reason, it’s a good way to expand the scope of your search to see what’s available on your topic in other disciplines. JSTOR content is 100% full text, although there is a five-year embargo on the most recent issues of journals, meaning you’ll have to request those for Inter Library Loan. JSTOR also contains a significant number of images and primary sources as well as Open Source material and community collections, making it far more than just an academic journal database. Let’s take a closer look!

Constructing a Search

While the JSTOR interface is different than MLA, the strategies for constructing a search are basically the same as those discussed above. I recommend clicking on the advanced search link on the home page to be taken to a search screen that looks like this:

Just as we did in MLA, you can combine search terms by putting quotes around set phrases like "black poetry" and add or eliminate terms using the boolean operators. You can also limit your results to a specific date range, language, or source types from that page as well. As with MLA, these limiters will appear on the results age once you run a search so you can continue refining from there.

For example, here are the results for my search on "black poetry" in academic journals:


One notable difference between JSTOR and MLA is the diversity of subject coverage. While MLA will mostly be focused on literature with some coverage in other areas, JSTOR is a multidisciplinary database, so there is a greater range of subject coverage. This is an effective way to see how scholars in different subject areas approach your research topic. For example, is there scholarship on "black poetry" in art, history, or sociology? You can find out in JSTOR.

Beyond that, the interface and records are simple, uniform, and user-friendly. Here's a typical example:




You get a preview of the title page with a link to download the full text, journal and publisher info, a stable URL, and a citation template. Also, everything in JSTOR is full text, so you don't have to worry about linking to other databases.

JSTOR Workspace

You have the option to create a personal JSTOR account that will provide access to their "workspace." JSTOR Workspace is a tool for researchers, librarians, and teachers. Once your account is created, you can do the following:

  • Save articles, book chapters, images, and primary source materials
  • Cite articles, book chapters, and images
  • Custom ordering of content in Workspace
  • Organize your saved items with a flexible folder structure
  • Export research materials from workspace
  • Share Workspace folders

To get started, click the Log in or Register tabs at the top of the homepage:

For more information on setting up your JSTOR account and using Workspace, please check out the Introduction to Workspace page on our JSTOR support site.

JSTOR User Guide