April 07, 2008
By Robert B. Townsend
Over the weekend, JSTOR substantially changed its appearance and usability. Quite aside from a classy new look, the site now provides a number of new ways to navigate through the site and use the results.
Many of the changes will be immediately apparent to regular JSTOR users. Tabs on the site offer a variety of new ways to search and browse through the site (and out to related items) The Advanced Search allows for more refined searches, and perhaps best of all (at least for this regular user), when you are faced with a large set of results you can further refine your searches from results page. For historians interested in visual materials, they have also provided new ways to search and access images—not just the ones published in ArtStor, but within journals as well.
After you find an article you want to look at, the site revisions also offer some new ways to get around. A refined page view provides a much simpler arrow bar that lets you click to the next (or previous) page in an article. They have also streamlined the ability to get to the PDF versions—making it a simple button click away from any page. JSTOR also now includes the MyJSTOR feature, which allows you to login and save your search results for future reference.
Particularly notable for regular readers of the American Historical Review is the news that JSTOR is going back and re-scanning the content for the AHR (staff at JSTOR says they are halfway through the process). The AHR was among the first journals in JSTOR (back in the digital dark ages of 1996), so the rescanning will allow them to bring the files up to a more modern level of code. This will make a notable difference in the download speed for the articles, improve searching, and could ultimately allow them to provide live linking from the references in the pages.