Our Work

At JSTOR Labs, we have one goal: to explore the future of research and teaching, one project at a time. Working with partner publishers, libraries and labs, we aim to expand access to knowledge by creating tools for researchers, teachers and students that are immediately useful – and a little bit magical.  

Whether they let you search JSTOR content by uploading your own document or treat Shakespeare’s plays as a portal into the scholarship about them, our projects aim to expand access to knowledge.  They show new ways to discover and work with the rich collection of academic journals, books and primary sources on JSTOR and beyond. We won’t always succeed – making magic isn’t easy -- but even when we miss that high bar, there are great opportunities to learn and to share what we’ve learned.

JSTOR Labs was launched in 2014.

Our Methods

To accomplish our work, we use a variety of different techniques, many of which are inspired by the “Design Thinking” and “Lean Startup” movements. These approaches provide a model of iterating on ideas rapidly based on user feedback and data, with the goal of getting to a valuable solution as quickly as possible.  Generally, we have  two kinds of projects on which we apply these methods: discovery  and incubation.  Discovery projects are projects where we don’t know yet whether an idea is a good one. The purpose of a discovery project is: to create and to find value in an idea. To do this, we work quickly and usually the output of a discovery project is a public prototype. Incubation projects, meanwhile, are projects when we believe we have a good idea and our job is: to realize and scale the value within that idea. Incubation projects are usually much larger in scope and are often conducted as betas directly on the JSTOR platform.

We sometimes describe our work as “applied digital humanities.”  Very often, we take some of the methods and technologies in the digital humanities -- such as topic modeling or linked open data -- and apply it to the rich JSTOR corpus in a way that solves a particular, new need.  

We love to share and talk about our methods almost as much as we love to talk about projects.  If you’re interested in how we do what we do, please check out our blog and collection of presentations.  And don’t hesitate to email us if you want to learn more -- we are always happy to offer guidance to folks in the community just starting out on an innovation project.

Our Values

JSTOR Labs believes that you can learn more by doing and building than by talking. We believe in the value of working with partners to build something greater than what either could achieve on their own. We believe there is a tremendous amount that users can teach you if you know how to listen.

JSTOR Labs believes in openness. Wherever possible we make our prototypes, discoveries, code and data openly available for the communities that we both work within and learn from.  We support open infrastructure and sustainability models that optimize for access.

JSTOR Labs believes in expanding access to the transformative powers of education.  Our work is dedicated to making knowledge more available to all, and work especially hard to serve historically underserved communities.

Our Partners

We are always searching for partners and collaborators in the academic, publishing, library, and digital humanities/scholarship communities. Our most productive partnerships have been open, exploratory collaborations, focused on innovation.

We work with philanthropic funders for some of our projects as a way to tackle larger problems and increase the impact of our work.  

If you are interested in working with us, please let us know! We choose projects and partnerships based on a combination of factors, including how likely they are to lead to a project that is both immediately useful and also broadly applicable to JSTOR and the wider community.

Our Team