American Anthropological Association

Getting Access: JSTOR JPASS

LaptopWelcome to Getting Access, a series devoted to helping you obtain the digital records you need.


On September 19, 2013, JStor introduced JPASS, an individual access plan to its database. A subscription service, JPASS allows subscribers “unlimited reading access and limited downloading” privileges to the articles contained in JSTOR. JSTOR bills JPASS as “an expansion of our ongoing efforts to reach individuals…[and to] continue JSTOR’s mission of helping people discover, use, and build upon trusted scholarly content.”


Content and Limitations

JSTOR grants JPASS subscribers access to “roughly eighty percent” of its archive. JSTOR specifically excludes “current journals, books, and primary sources” from its JPASS subscription. This exclusion is not unlike those experienced by users who access JSTOR through their local libraries. Here is a list of the JPASS History Journal Collection.


jstor_logoSubscription Plans

JSTOR offers 2 JPASS subscriptions, monthly and annual.



Cost: $19.50/month

JSTOR designed the monthly JPASS plan for scholars who need JSTOR access for a short period of time. Monthly subscribers can read an unlimited number of articles and download up to 10 articles per month. Subscribers can roll over any unused downloads into their next monthly subscription period if they renew their plan prior to the expiration of their initial month.


Cost: $199/year

JSTOR designed its annual plan for scholars who need frequent JSTOR access. For their annual membership fee, subscribers can read an unlimited number of articles and download up to 120 articles per year. JSTOR will roll over any unused article downloads to the next year if subscribers renew before their year ends.


Subscription Comparison

Although JSTOR offers 2 JPASS options, the two plans are not all that different. Both plans allow users to read an unlimited number of articles during the subscription term and download a maximum of 120 articles per year.

Annual plan subscribers save $35 a year over their monthly counterparts. This limited savings may mean that users who find $199 for the annual subscription difficult to come by may opt to pay the extra $35 to enjoy JSTOR at a more manageable $19.50/month.


JPassPrice Breaks and Alternatives

Savvy scholars may be eligible to save money on JSTOR access.

As part of its “Alumni Program,” JSTOR offers access through participating “Alumni Libraries.” This program allows universities to make JSTOR available to dues-paying members of their alumni association. (Many of the schools in the JSTOR Alumni Program offer their alums additional library access as well. See Getting Access: Alumni Libraries.)

Many big city libraries also subscribe to JSTOR and they often extend access to residents of the same state. In many cases the access offered by these libraries will be just as good or better than what is offered via JPASS and it’s free. (See Getting Access: Big City Libraries for more information on what 'big city' libraries have to offer. Also see JSTOR institutions for a list of libraries with subscriptions.)

Some professional associations offer members a 50% discount on annual JPASS subscriptions. For example, the American Historical Association and the American Anthropological Association allow members to subscribe to JPASS for $99/year.


The Bottom Line

If you need JSTOR access but cannot access it via your public, alumni, or ‘big city’ library, than JPASS is for you. JPASS does not offer complete access to the JSTOR database, but it comes close. Subscription fees are high, but reasonable, especially if you can take advantage of an organizational discount.


What Do You Think?

Have you found any helpful ways for remotely accessing digital records or academic journal articles? If so please leave a comment or send me a tweet.