Harvard Review moves to JSTOR

Students at Harvard and around the world searching for hard-to-find works by such literary luminaries as Arthur Miller, Joyce Carol Oates, and John H. Updike ’54 will not have to look farther than their computer screens anymore.

The Harvard Review, a literary journal published at Harvard under various names since 1986, announced Thursday that all of its back issues except those published within the past three years are now available on JSTOR, a digital archive of scholarly journals.

The Review, which is based in Houghton Library at Harvard, currently prints 2,000 to 2,500 copies of each semiannual issue, which is “fairly small for a literary journal,” according to Editor Christina A. Thompson. These copies are sold to bookstores, university libraries, and subscribers.

“The reality is, we can’t get it to everyone who might want to read it,” Thompson said. “Online access is a game-changer.”

Many prominent fiction and poetry writers enter the publishing world by submitting works to literary journals such as the Harvard Review. Today, scholars studying those authors who wish to read these rare early pieces frequently end up hunting for a copy of a certain issue of the Review.


Thompson said she is “always fielding inquiries” from researchers looking for a piece that a certain author published in the Review before hitting it big on the literary circuit. “Until now, I would either send them old copies or scan them. Now I can just say, go to JSTOR.”

In addition to aiding researchers, the Review should benefit from placement in this prominent online compendium, said Laura Farwell Blake, interim head of research services in Lamont Library. “This puts the Harvard Review in the company of the journals in JSTOR, and that’s a good place to be. It brings a local resource very much into the global world.”

Thompson called JSTOR, which according to its Web site is utilized by over 5,700 institutions worldwide, “the gold standard” of online research tools, and Farwell Blake agreed that it is “one of the most widely used resources there is.”

Thompson said that the Review was concerned about the financial implications of the decision to join JSTOR, noting that the funds that the Review receives from sublicensing its content to JSTOR are less than traditional revenue from print susbscriptions.

Nevertheless, she said she was “keen” to bring the Review to JSTOR.

“We’re not in this to make money; we’re in this to promote literature,” she said. “The best way to promote it is to make sure people can read it, and the best way to make sure people can read it is to make it available online.”