Keeping up to date

When researching a topic it is vital to make sure you are keeping up to date. There are some useful methods for doing this:

Journal contents email alerting services

Many journal publishers provide an email alerting service for their journal titles. You select the titles you are interested in and the publishers automatically email you the table of contents when a new issue is published.

JournalTOCS from JISC which is a free service to help researchers keep up to date with the tables of contents from scholarly journals. Over 31,000 journals from over 3000 publishers are included and individual RSS feeds can be exported to a feed reader.

Journal contents via RSS feeds

Another simple way of keeping up with the latest contents of your favourite journals is to use RSS feeds - RSS (Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary) is an easy way to be updated automatically about latest contents.

Instead of having to go to lots of different web sites to keep up to date you can use RSS to be notified directly of any updates.

See the short video: RSS in plain English

Using RSS feeds

  • To use RSS feeds you will need an RSS Feed Reader (sometimes called Aggregator). Feed Readers are usually free and very easy to use.
  • If you are a member of staff, you can subscribe to RSS feeds through Outlook. More information is available on the Microsoft Outlook support pages. Alternatively you could set up a free Netvibes dashboard and use its feed reader 
  • Setting up a Netvibes dashboard is simple. All you need to do is go to 
    and set up a basic personal dashboard (ignore the Agency and Enterprise options). You can choose the subject you are interested in and Netvibes will track posts on this subject in blogs and social media. You can also choose the sort of information you want to receive.
  • To add RSS feeds to your Outlook or Netvibes reader look out for RSS icons or links. Right-click on the icon (or RSS link), copy the Shortcut (or link location) and paste it into your RSS reder.
  • Posts which you track using Netvibes will only remain in your feed reader for a few weeks, so if you find something you want to keep, be sure to add a reference to your RefWorks account.

Saved searches and search alerts

Some of the Library’s databases allow you to save your searches to run again at a later date or will automatically run a search you save against the updates to the database and send you the result by email. This can save you an enormous amount of time, and is an easy way to keep up to date.

For example:

Web of Science search alert

Web of Science is a large, multidisciplinary database. To set up a Web of Science search alert: check these instructions

  • In order to set up an alert, you must first register.
  • Click on the 'Sign in' link at the top of the page.
  • Click on 'Register' and follow the instructions on screen.
  • While you are logged in carry out a search.
  • From the results summary page, click on the 'Create alert/RSS' button at the top of the screen.
  • Fill in the required details and tick the E-mail alerts box, choose what format you want the e-mails sent in and how often.
  • Click the save tab and you have now set up an e-mail alert (you can change this to be an RSS feed if you prefer)
  • You will be emailed, as often as you chose, with any new records added to the database that match your search strategy

Many databases will allow you to create alerts - check the help section of your favourite database next time you search.

Citation alerts - be notified when a favourite paper is cited

One great way of keeping right up to date is to be notified when a new journal article refers to a favourite article of yours, perhaps an article you've written yourself or one that is on a topic of interest to you.

The Web of Science database makes it easy to do this: check these instructions

Web of Science citation alert

  • Connect to Web of Science via the A-Z list of online resources
  • Run a search in Web of Science for your article of interest
  • When viewing the brief details of the article - select the title to display the full record
  • Select the Create Citation Alert button in the box on the right hand side
  • You will be asked to Register (or sign in if you've already registered)
  • You will receive an e-mail each time the article is cited in a new article
  • You can also change the settings to receive an RSS feed instead