"Nota Bene" means "note this well" or "take particular notice." We at the O'Quinn Law Library will be posting tips on legal research techniques and resources, developments in the world of legal information, happenings at the Law Library, and legal news reports that deserve your particular attention. We look forward to sharing our thoughts and findings and to hearing from you.

N.B: Make a note to visit "Nota Bene" regularly.

-Spencer L. Simons, former Director, O'Quinn Law Library and Associate Professor of Law



Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Main Library Can Help -- JSTOR

When you have exhausted the Lexis and Westlaw databases, but still can’t find a helpful article try JSTOR. JSTOR has law review articles, but it has so much more. If you are doing inter-disciplinary research and need something on Economics, History, Political Science, or something else non-law, you should try JSTOR.

JSTOR is about scholarly journals in a variety of academic disciplines. You won’t find Time, Newsweek, or the Economist there. I counted 54 subjects covered. Some subjects have only one journal in their collection while others have hundreds, the total number of journals is over 1,400. JSTOR’s stock and trade are historic journals; they will have entire runs of a particular journal from the first issue published in the 19th century to more recent, but not current, issues.

JSTOR’s is a database of “historic” journals with very limited current (meaning the current year) content. This is a result of JSTOR’s “moving wall”. The idea of the “moving wall” is that publishers provide content to the site from their earliest issue to issues 3-5 years from their current issue. For example a current journal with a moving wall of 3 years may have all of its issues available from its first in 1910 up to issues published in 2008. In 2012 they will make available issues from 2009, and so on updating each year, but never making available the most recent three years. Starting in 2011 JSTOR began the process of phasing in current journals and have loaded approximately 150 of them.

The multi-disciplinary aspect of JSTOR is it’s great strength. Its holdings in fields such as History, Law, and Political Science make it an attractive database for providing background and context to scholarly articles in the legal field. If you can get past the fact that it does not contain the most up-to-date material and focus on its historic coverage (often back to the first issue of a journal) you will come to appreciate its value.

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