JSTOR Access Regained!

The juice is back on.

In the preceding post, I mentioned a comment in a MetaFilter post which indicated that access to JSTOR is possible through some public libraries, culled from a list on the JSTOR web site (the complete list of JSTOR participants is very long, and I wonder whether the list of public libraries is exhaustive; that culling must have taken some time, and I imagine it must have been exhausting). It turned out that one of those public library systems is very close to me: the Prince William Public Library System (PWPLS). I emailed PWPLS asking whether I could obtain a library card, even though I live in Arlington County rather than Prince William County. They said that I could still obtain a library card from them, because they have a reciprocal lending arrangement with Arlington.

Yesterday, I went to the nearest full-service branch of the PWPLS, the Bull Run Regional Library, and obtained a PWPLS library card. When I got back home, I tried accessing JSTOR through my new library account. It works! I was able to download some interesting papers off of JSTOR last night, including a paper about the Mexican Virgin of Guadalupe (connected with the “devouring mother” Aztec goddesses, Tonantzin and Coatlicue, which I mentioned in a previous post), as well as a primer on Data Envelopment Analysis (reminds me of the efficient frontier in Modern Portfolio Theory).

A few weeks ago, I obtained a Reader Card from the Library of Congress, hoping that I might get access to JSTOR through their electronic services. Unfortunately, the Library of Congress’ electronic resources don’t include JSTOR. However, I might still use my Reader Card for other purposes. For example, Alex Hassanthe local jazz pianist, not the baseball player — sometimes goes digging in the bowels of the Library of Congress looking for interesting sheet music; maybe I can do the same.

Antique Papers Now Freely Available on JSTOR

Well, it’s a start. Via MetaFilter: Early JSTOR publications now free. In the comments, MeFite marble says that there may be a way to obtain cheap access to JSTOR via public libraries; probably worth investigating.

A related recent MetaFilter post: The Lairds of Learning. In the comments, MeFite phalene states:

“… losing the free, degree attached connection to the journal banks is the thing I’ll miss most about finishing being a student.”

I can sympathize! The juice has been cut off.

In the same post, MeFite ovvl links to this interesting article: The Library: Three Jeremiads. In this tryptich of peeves, Robert Darnton writes:

While prices continued to spiral upward, professors became entrapped in another kind of vicious circle, unaware of the unintended consequences. Reduced to essentials, it goes like this: we academics devote ourselves to research; we write up the results as articles for journals; we referee the articles in the process of peer reviewing; we serve on the editorial boards of the journals; we also serve as editors (all of this unpaid, of course); and then we buy back our own work at ruinous prices in the form of journal subscriptions—not that we pay for it ourselves, of course; we expect our library to pay for it, and therefore we have no knowledge of our complicity in a disastrous system.

I have mentioned JSTOR earlier here and here.

Published in: on 7 September 2011 at 10:03 pm  Comments (1)  
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Access An Electronic Book Via Dahlgren Memorial Library

Let’s say you wanted to access a book electronically via Dahlgren Memorial Library. Assuming that the book is indeed available electronically, here’s how you do it. For the sake of example, let’s say you wanted to access Cody and Pass’ SAS Programming By Example.

  1. Go to the Dahlgren Memorial Library web page.

  2. Click on the link Catalog – Find Books.

  3. Type “SAS Programming by Example” into the search box, and change “Any Field” to “TITLE”.

  4. Click on the “Submit” button.

  5. Click on the link “Connect to Online Resource.”

Published in: on 5 December 2009 at 6:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Home Stretch

I will be busy doing schoolwork the next few weeks: my Statistical Consulting class will have a “consultation memo” due Monday, which is simply a short summary of an actual statistical consult we students sat in on this past Monday. And on Tuesday I have to give a presentation for my Case Studies in Bioinformatics class. There are only two students in this class, and each of us needs to present an analysis of some 2D protein gel electrophoresis data.

There will be a few more hurdles, but I am rapidly approaching the end of my studies in the Master’s program. On Monday, I will be one of the designated two “head students” for the consult; as we sit in on an actual statistical consultation another student and I will sit closest to the consultation, and each of us will be responsible for giving a short presentation on the consultation the following Thursday.

On December 8, I need to give a presentation discussing/critiquing this paper; the teacher (who happens to be the head of the department) also requires a 3-5 page write-up. And December 14 is the deadline for a take-home exam for the Consulting class.

And of course there’s the big T. (Working title: Non-negative Matrix Factorization: Assessing Methods for Normalization and for Estimating the Number of Components.) In about a week, I must submit an advance copy of my thesis to my thesis committee; this means that the document must be in a presentable form by that time. (Not to worry, I think everything is falling into place.) Because of a departmental requirement, I have written my thesis in LaTeX. And on December 10, I need to defend the thesis, which means I need to compose a PowerPoint presentation for that day.

Whew! It seems like a lot. But I’m really coming into the home stretch here.

Obtain a Paper Electronically from Dahlgren Memorial Library

Let’s say you wanted to obtain a copy of this (infamous) paper.

  1. Go to the Dahlgren Memorial Library web page.

  2. Click on the link “Journal Finder”.

  3. Type “Nature” into the search box.

  4. Since “Nature” is a common word in journal titles, you’ll get too many hits if you do an unconstrained search. So, change the selection box “Partial Words” to “Exact Phrase”.

  5. Click on the “Search” button.

  6. Under “Full Text Access”, click any of the little icons that look like a check mark. I’d say go to the one corresponding to “Publisher”. This should bring you to the website of the publisher of the journal Nature.

  7. Go to the link labeled “Archive” and look for the article there.
Published in: on 11 September 2009 at 6:14 am  Leave a Comment  

PubMed Search

Let’s say you wanted to a PubMed search for articles about “transcendental medicine”. To search for articles in which this term occurs in the title, do this PubMed search:

     transcendental medicine [ti]

Hmm, no articles were found at the time I did this search. Maybe search for this term in either the title or the abstract:

     transcendental medicine [tiab]

Still nothing. Maybe there are no articles published on PubMed on this topic.

Or suppose you wanted to search for papers by author J. Smith. You could do the following search:

     smith j [au]

Since there are many authors whose first name began with “J” and whose last name was “Smith”, there are many hits. To restrict the list to only those papers where J. Smith was the first author, use the [1au] tag instead:

     smith j [1au]

There are still many hits. To further restrict the search to first author J. Smiths from Georgetown University, try this search:

     smith j [1au] AND georgetown [ad]

which demonstrates a boolean expression. To search for first author J. Smiths from either Georgetown University or Yale University, try this search:

     smith j [1au] AND ( georgetown [ad] OR yale [ad] )

which demonstrates the boolean OR and the use of parentheses. Boolean NOT also works, but I don’t use it so often.

Here are the search tags that I use most frequently, roughly ordered from most- to least-frequently used.

Tag Function
au Author
1au First Author
ti in Title
tiab in Title or Abstract
ta in Journal; you can use the officially recognized abbreviations, e.g. you can use either “Human Brain Mapping” or “hum brain mapp”
dp Date of Publication; e.g.

    2009 [dp]

for papers published in 2009, or

    2009/2 [dp]

for papers published in February, 2009

vi in Volume (I remember this because of the vi text editor)
ip in Issue (I remember this because of IP addresses)
pg in Page

Searching PubMed

Published in: on 11 September 2009 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  

JSTOR Search

  1. Go to Lauinger Library’s website, and click on the link labeled Articles and Databases; then click on the JSTOR link.

  2. On JSTOR, do a search for “transcendental medicine” (yes, including the double quotes). This should yield about a dozen hits.

  3. Right-click on the title of one of the articles, e.g. right-click on the word “Wonders” (article #6 in my search results). Select “Open Link in New Tab”. (Depending on your browser, you might not be able to do this, in which case you might have to open in a new window, or even just single-click on the link.)

  4. In the new tab, click on the link labeled “View list of pages with search term(s)”. This should make a list of pages in which “transcendental medicine” occurred; click on one of these pages. In the “Wonders” article, only one page (page 25) has the words “transcendental medicine”.

  5. JSTOR should show you the page where “transcendental medicine” occurred, and it should highlight the search words in yellow. In the “Wonders” article, we catch only the last half of the sentence; to see the first half of the sentence, click on the gold-colored bar to the left of the page to go back one page.

  6. If you’re interested in the article, single-click on the link labeled PDF.

  7. If you repeat the above steps for several articles and look at the sentences in which “trancendental medicine” occurred, you’ll see evidence that “transcendental medicine” had something to do with a mystical movement, and with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Earlier post on JSTOR.

Published in: on 11 September 2009 at 5:01 am  Comments (1)  


Through my university account, I have access to an amazing storehouse of scholarly knowledge named JSTOR. This garden of intellectual delights contains thousands of academic articles and pamphlets, some going back to the 1800’s and earlier, in PDF format. The older articles are obviously scanned in from the originals, and they have been scanned very meticulously. By this I mean that the pages were carefully aligned to the scanner, so that the lines of text aren’t tilted about all a-kilter; this rectification must have been achieved by computer. (My guess is that newer articles were already available in PDF format, so they didn’t need to be scanned in.)

But the really cool thing about JSTOR is that the words in the body of the articles — not just the titles, not just the abstracts — have been indexed. The JSTOR staff must have had some sort of optical character recognition software to do this. This means that one can go to JSTOR, do a search on arbitrary search terms, and receive hits even in ancient articles with archaic fonts, even if the search terms occur in the body of the article rather than merely in the title.

It would be very tedious to manually go through hard-copies of journals, looking for all occurrences of some search term such as panpsychism or Aquinas. But with JSTOR, one can do it in seconds.

Do you realize how awesome this is?

From doing many, many searches on JSTOR on various topics of interest, it has become clear to me that if you’re going to write an article and you want future generations to be able to find your article, it would help to choose the title very carefully; rather than some vague title like Further Thoughts on a Recent Controversy, insert concrete topical words in the title, e.g. The Split-Brain Experiments Revisited. Also, you should try to follow the consensus spelling of proper names (e.g., Scriabin vs. Skryabin, or Rachmaninoff vs. Rachmaninov), even if you don’t agree with them. Otherwise, if people try to use the most common spelling of terms to find articles, they will miss your article! Of course, what might be a consensus in one era may drop out of favor in another era.

A Tiger in Harvard-land

Princetonians who have spent time in Bean Town might find this amusing.

Published in: on 19 December 2008 at 8:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
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