Friday, August 1, 2008

JSTOR Database

The past postings of the month have been mainly entertainment related. I thought it was time give you some meat and potatoes. Databases can be quite confusing for many so I thought I would discuss one database at a time.

Like Academic Search Complete, JSTOR covers all different subject areas, but three things set it apart from that database. First of all, it only includes scholarly journals; there is not popular content. Second, because it’s a journal archive, anything you find in JSTOR will have full text right there. Those are both positives, but there’s one slight negative that a lot of people don’t realize: JSTOR is an archive of old issues of journals. Every journal included in JSTOR makes their own decisions on what they consider to be old issues, but it’s a good rule of thumb that there’s never anything more recent than 2-5 years ago in JSTOR, and many journals draw the line a lot farther back in the past than that. So if you’re researching something very current, JSTOR is not the database you want to be using. On the other hand, it’s great for getting an idea of how historical topics were viewed by scholars at the time, because there are many journals in there that go back 50 or 100 years.

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