Thursday, December 19, 2013

JPASS A Boon To Researchers

Regular readers of these columns will recall my complaints about really useful research sites which make you sign up for a year’s subscription even though you only need to make a few visits over the course of a week or two.
One of my favorite archival sites is the Times of London. And as I mentioned a couple of posts ago, this past summer they began to offer the Web Pack. First of all, it was cheap—$3 a week. And secondly, and most importantly to a periodic user, you can sign up for as little as one month —$12. A bargain for the right to search three centuries of history.

Which brings us to JSTOR.
JSTOR is a not-for-profit shared digital library created in 1995 to help university and college libraries free space on their shelves, save costs, and provide greater levels of access to more content than ever before. By digitizing content to high standards and supporting its long-term preservation, JSTOR aims to expand access to scholarly content around the world and to preserve it for future generations.

JSTOR currently includes more than 2,000 academic journals, dating back to the first volume ever published, along with thousands of monographs and other materials relevant for education. They have digitized more than 50 million pages and continue to digitize approximately 3 million pages a year. 

Though designed mainly for institutions, JSTOR has recognized that independent researchers would benefit from access to these vast databases. That’s why they created JPASS—a tool for folks like us that lets us browse or search over 7 million articles in 1500 journals on hundreds of subjects for as little as $19.50 month.

JPASS enables subscribers to read an unlimited number of articles in what they call the JPASS COLLECTION, and to download up to 10 of those a month (PDF).

I’ve been doing research on Presbyterian missionaries in Asia during the World War II period. And so I was pleased to find a variety of Presbyterian Historical Society publications available on JSTOR.

I chose the Journal of Presbyterian History (1997-2009), and typed Philippines missionaries into the search box.

There were 789 results, so I scrolled down through them until I found one that seemed to fit what I was looking for (it’s not shown on the image, but it’s called “The Presbyterian Mission on Hainan Island Under the Japanese, 1937-1941.”

Not needing to print the PDF, I just read through the article on the screen.

Overall the user interface on JSTOR/JPASS is pretty clean and intuitive, but it will take some effort to master it.

It’s great that a resource like JSTOR is now available to the hoi polloi. I hope that other databases that restrict public access realize they are missing out on a great revenue generator that also happens to be a great public service.

If this post was helpful or interesting to you, please let me know. I’m always looking for ways to improve the blog.

Disclaimer: The description of web pages are accurate as of the date of the post. Like everything else in this digital world of ours, they can change in the blink of an eye.

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