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JSTOR is even more librarian- and classroom-friendly

This news from JSTOR makes me want to be a high school librarian again!

If like me, you work or have worked with high school students and teachers who crave a challenge or lean toward the scholarly, you’ll be interested in the new developments from our friends at JSTOR.

Officially launched in September, Research Basics for High School Students, is a free, Moodle-based research skills course/curriculum developed with librarian partners.  Aimed at addressing the needs of college-bound students, each of the three modules includes video lessons, practice learning activities, a short quiz and a badging system to help high school students build academic research skills.
  • Module 1 includes: Effective Searching: Using Library Tools (on databases), Smart Searching Methods (search strategies), Managing Information Overload (planning, refining, documenting)

  • Module 2 includes: Establishing Credibility: The A-B-Cs of Scholarly Sources, Additional Ways of Identifying Scholarly Sources, Verifying Online Sources

  • Module 3 includes: Citing Scholarly Work: Creating Citations, Citing and Paraphrasing, Works Cited, Bibliographies, and Notes

The lovely thing is that you don’t need to be a JSTOR member to join or have students enroll in the course.  Write to for the 70-page, pdf Instructor’s Guide.

Last month JSTOR launched three additional free resources designed to enhance academic high school curricula.

1. JSTOR Classroom Readings, a JSTOR Labs project, is intended to help teachers locate articles on JSTOR for classroom use, using filters for topic, length of article, and reading level.


Developed to help educators quickly and efficiently find articles on JSTOR to support classroom teaching, JSTOR Classroom Readings is a subset of approximately 9,000 articles from JSTOR collections.

The Labs team identified these articles by conducting an analysis of article use from 2011-2013 across all JSTOR participating institutions and identified articles that exhibit patterns of use in teaching.  Teaching use was defined as a significant spike in use of an article at a single institution within a two-week periodThe current limited number of thematic lists were selected as a sample set selected to match common subjects in secondary school curricula. Lists are organized into a subject tree.  The team expects to add new thematic lists on a semi-regular basis during this school year.  JSTOR welcomes suggestions for additional lists. Write to to suggest a topic for a new list.

Classroom Readings and the thematic lists and search features are open and free for public use. Each article title links to JSTOR full-text, available participating institutions. If you are not a JSTOR subscriber, approximately 70% of the articles linked from Classroom Readings are available for online reading with a free Register & Read account.

2.  Understanding Shakespeare, another JSTOR Labs project, enables scholars to link directly from lines in plays to the articles that mention them.

A collaborative project between JSTOR Labs and Folger Shakespeare Library, this research tool allows users to examine the scholarship around the six heavily-studied plays from the popularly-used, high quality Folger Digital Texts by navigating the primary text line by line.  It’s a kind of concordance between text and research, just what the English teachers I know have been looking for.  Click on any line of text and relevant articles from the JSTOR archive immediately load.  This is a dream for high school and university teachers and students engaged in close textual analysis!  (I got a hint that there’ll be more primary, public domain texts to come.)

Understanding Shakespeare is free and open to the public. Again, each article title links to the full-text on JSTOR website, available to participating institutions.  If you are not a subscriber, approximately 83% of the articles linked from Understanding Shakespeare are available for free online reading through a free Register and Read account.

3.  JSTOR Daily is a fresh, attractive, curated academic newsletter that presents original news, commentary and analysis with links to related academic JSTOR content, new and archival. You’ll want to suggest this one to teachers across the disciplines!

JSTOR Daily mixes an assortment of weekly features with daily blog posts, profiles and interviews with scholars, offering a back story to content across a variety of subject areas.  Articles are easily shared by email or through social media.

Content in these magazine is divided into the following sections, making for easy access for a more elevated, interdisciplinary approach to current events:

Links from JSTOR Daily to JSTOR database content are open, leading readers to the full-text articles referenced at the end of each piece.

How is content selected?  The editors favor thought-provoking stories that

  • appeal to a general reader
  • draw on scholarly research to provide fresh insight into the news media and current affairs
  • deepen our understanding of our world
  • highlight the amazing content found on JSTOR
  • expose the work of scholars who are using JSTOR to conduct their research

You may subscribe and have the newsletter automatically delivered to your inbox.  As a librarian, I’d link the magazine to course, subject and news source pages.  (I’d also love to be able to embed this and asked for that capability.)

Kristen Garlock, Associate Director for Education and Outreach at JSTOR, shared reaction to the launch of the new curricular resources from librarians and teachers:

With all of the resources, we’re aiming to help educators most effectively use JSTOR and support student academic success. We’ve been thrilled and energized by the response. More than 600 people have enrolled in the Research Basics course, and a quarter of those enrolled have already earned badges for successfully completing lessons and quizzes.

The strongest feedback we’ve received from librarians is that the course will be very helpful to students working on research skills for college readiness. For Classroom Readings, we’re hearing from teachers that it can be very challenging to tackle the volume of content on JSTOR; the QuickLists are saving time by helping to zero in on articles by topic that are appropriate in terms of reading level and length. We’d love to hear more from educators who try the resources! We are eager to create more tools to help teachers and enhance use of the content on JSTOR.

Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza

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