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Database Help

A guide with tips and videos to improve your database searching.

Searching in JSTOR

JSTOR supports full-text keyword searching across all of the content including 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. This page covers tips for Basic and Advanced searching. For additional tips and information, visit the How To Search JSTOR guide.

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 Multiple Spellings of a Word

Using the tilde symbol: Fnd 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 such as dostoevsky, dostoevsky,  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* 

Quick tips: Advanced Searching

Using the Advanced Search

  • Use the drop-down boxes to limit search terms to the title, author, abstract, or caption text.
  • Use the drop-down boxes to combine search terms using the Boolean operators, AND/OR/NOT and NEAR 5/10/25. The NEAR operator looks for the combinations of keywords within 5, 10, or 25 words places of each other. The NEAR operator only works when searching for single keyword combinations. For example, you may search for cat NEAR 5 dog, but not "domesticated cat" NEAR 5 dog.
  • Use the “Narrow by” options to search only articles, include/exclude book reviews, search for content published during a particular time frame, or in a particular language.
  • Focus an article search in specific disciplines and titles using checkboxes. [NOTE: discipline searching is currently only available for searching journal content. Selecting this option will exclude ebooks from the search.