JSTOR Tries Individual Subscription Service for Researchers

JSTOR’s archival database of scholarly journals is a plum resource for researchers—if they can tap it. Scholars with college or university ties can dive in via institutional subscriptions. The unaffiliated often have a harder time getting in.

JPASS, a new subscription service for individuals, aims to get more of JSTOR’s archives into the hands of people who might otherwise be cut off from them. For a smallish monthly or yearly fee, researchers can buy the right to read an unlimited number of articles from about 1,500 journals in JSTOR’s archival collection, and they can download up to 10 articles a month or 120 annually.

“You’re able to do downloading with limits,” said Jennifer Farthing, director of consumer products at the nonprofit organization. “You can read anything you want.” About seven million out of the 8.4 million articles in JSTOR’s journal archives are available through JPASS, according to Ms. Farthing. The last three to five years of journal content is generally not included, she said.

The program builds on the nonprofit’s interest in expanding its global reach and engaging more readers. “We are focusing on the independent scholar, independent researcher, lifelong learner who really wants to get after this kind of scholarship,” Ms. Farthing said. “It’s a new audience for JSTOR, really.”

The idea for JPASS grew out of JSTOR’s Register & Read program, through which registered users can read a limited number of articles free. That program has attracted about a million users, according to Ms. Farthing. Many of them have told JSTOR that they would like to see more articles and are willing to shell out something for the privilege.

JPASS is not exactly a blow for open access, although its cost is fairly modest; researchers pay $19.50 a month or $199 a year for the service. Discounts are also being offered to Register & Read users and to researchers who belong to scholarly associations whose journals are included in the JPASS program.

JPASS should help not just researchers but the scholarly societies JSTOR works with, Ms. Farthing said. Many of those groups—about 400 worldwide—have been looking for ways to make membership more attractive and obviously useful to scholars inside and outside academe.

One way to do that would be to serve as a conduit for scholarly resources members need, said James R. Grossman, executive director of the American Historical Association. The association is a JSTOR partner.

“In an era when many of the resources needed are digital, there really doesn’t need to be any such thing as an unaffiliated scholar,” Mr. Grossman said. “There’s no reason why people shouldn’t be able to be active scholars with their affiliation being their disciplinary society.”

Correction (9/24/2013, 5:25 p.m.): This article originally misstated the monthly cost to users of the JPASS program. It is $19.50, not $19.95. The article has been updated to reflect this correction.

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