It is vital when undertaking research to keep up to date with the latest developments in your area of interest. The sheer volume of information available can make this a challenge. There are a range of evolving current awareness services and tools available to help you keep up-to-date quickly and conveniently with:
New Journal Articles - setting up email alerts and rss feeds
Journal articles are an excellent source of recent, peer-reviewed, good quality research and as such are a vital resource to keep up to date with.
Why subscribe to a current awareness service?
There is often a time delay between the point when a new article is published in a journal and it is indexed by one of the database services. Current awareness services will automatically keep you informed of new journal issues and articles on your topic or research interest when new relevant material is made available. Many of the large online research databases provide an automated alerting service.
Before using any current awareness services you should review the literature to establish a clear awareness of the topic that you would like to be kept up-to-date with on a regular basis. In this way you will increase the relevancy of the alerts you receive to your area of research. You can receive automated updates of newly published journal articles via email alert or via RSS Feed. These are outlined below.
There are a number of current awareness services that enable you to receive regular automated email alerts. In order to receive email alerts you will need to 'Register' a personal account with the service. This normally means completing a brief online form supplying your name and email address etc. You can receive email alerts via:
- Saved keyword search alerts
- Table of content (TOC) alerts
- Cited reference alerts
Saved keyword search alerts
Many databases allow you to:
- run a keyword search on your topic of interest and save it
- the search will be run automatically at intervals defined by you
- updates of new articles will then be emailed to you.
The following are examples of large research databases which can be used in this way:
- Web of Science
- Compendex (Ei Village)
- OVID databases including CINAHL, PsycINFO
- Ebsco Host databases including Academic Search Complete, Business Source Complete
Table of Contents (TOC) Alerts
TOC alerts enable you to identify specific journal titles of interest and receive an email copy of the TOC as new issues become available. This can be a useful way of keeping abreast of overall developments and identifying articles of interest. TOC Alerts are provided by most electronic journal publishers.
How do I set up a TOC email alert?
To receive a TOC email alerts you will usually only need to select the journals you are interested in from a list and then supply your email address.
Many journal publishers now also offer the facility to receive details of articles in press, ie. articles that have been reviewed and are ready for publication in an upcoming issue.
ZETOC Alerts is a service provided by the British Library spanning all disciplines which allows you to select titles from their list of 20,000 journals and have the TOCs and emailed to you regularly. You can also set up Saved search Alerts.
Cited Reference Alerts
Cited Reference Alerts allow you to identify individual journal articles and then receive notification whenever these articles are cited in a new journal article. This can be useful if you want to monitor how a particular article is being received by the research community.
Cited Reference Alerts are provided by services like Web of Science and Scopus. Once you have run your keyword search and identified a specific article against which you would like to track citation activity select the article in full view by clicking on the title. Next select the link 'Create Citation Alert'.
Current Awareness via RSS Feeds
Many online databases and general web sites such as news sites now also offer RSS (Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary) feeds, which are a convenient time-saving means of bringing together the latest tables of contents (TOCs) for your favourite journals or web sites into your own personal web page or software tool.
Advantages of RSS
- You don't need to register separately at numerous sites
- The TOCs have links directly to the articles on the e-journal site
- You can look at your TOC alerts whenever you like
- Your RSS reader will indicate whenever you have unread TOCs available
- It is much easier to unsubscribe from an RSS feed than from an email alerting service.
How do I receive an RSS feed?
There are a number of ways to receive RSS feds. Two methods are:
1. Register once at a free RSS reader web site such as Google Reader.
2. Subscribe to your chosen RSS feeds. Look out for this standard feed icon on e-journal sites. Right-click on the icon, copy the Shortcut (or Link Location) and paste it into your RSS reader.
Receive RSS feds directly to your browser. Most browsers like Internet Explorer (Version 7) and Firefox have inbuilt feed reading capabilities that enable you to simply click on the feed icon or similar icons such as this orange logo on a page of interest. You can then receive and read feeds within your browser. These can be stored and organised within your browser.
How do I find RSS feeds for pages I want to look at?
- Check if resources you use a lot have RSS feeds
- Add RSS feeds as you find them
- Save your Google, Yahoo or MSN search as an RSS feed so you will be alerted when new items matching the search are found
- Search an RSS directory. Examples of these include:
If there is no RSS feed for a page that you think would be useful, programs like Feedity can be used to create an RSS feed for that page.
- Most national and international newspapers now support RSS feeds enabling you to keep up-to-date with hot topics and media trends
- Set up a Google Alert to keep track of news articles about a specific topic
- Nexis provides access to the full text of local, national and international newspapers
- Visit the Library web pages for more information on newspaper collections both online and in print.
Many publishers will send regular emails to alert you to new books. Check out academic publisher websites for details of how to sign up for alerts.
Bookshops will also often send alerts by subject. General services include: Books for Academics
Patents are a very useful way of finding out about new research developments.
The Technology Transfer Office will provide you with information about new patented research here at NUIGalway.
Access resources on Patents and Standards
E-print archives are web-based repositories providing access to a variety of scholarly publications, including:
- Pre-prints of journal articles (pre-publication) which may eventually be published elsewhere
- Copies of journal articles which have been published elsewhere.
- Conference papers
- Working papers
- Theses and dissertations
These are also a good source of information to keep you up-to-date with new conferences, calls for papers, and current academic debate. They can also help you identify the key players in your field and form networks of academic contacts. However it is worth remembering that mailing lists can generate a large amount of information emailed to your inbox so be careful not to over-subscribe!
Calls for conference papers and announcements about upcoming events are often posted to active discussion mailing lists such as the ones hosted by HEANET and JISCMail.
Papers Invited is a library database that can be helpful for finding upcoming international conferences and special issues of journals seeking submissions
Conference Alerts is a free website where conference organisers can list academic conferences and can be searched by topic or country.
Access links to up-coming Conferences and Proceedings via the Resources Hub.