Keeping up-to-date with academic publishing in your research field can be time consuming. Researchers may focus on two or three key journals in their discipline area, manually checking them regularly for material of relevance to their work, and only run broader searches when a specific research question prompts them. But what if you could have everything on your topic at your fingertips? What if you could set up the journal databases to alert you, perhaps send links, to every new article produced in your particular areas of interest? Just like magic.
There are 3 types of alerts on databases, although names may differ. For more information have a look at the UON Alerting Services Guide.
- Journal Alerts or ToC Alerts will email you the Table of Contents of a selected journal every time a new issue is published and added to the database.
- Saved Search Alerts or Search Alerts will save a favourite search to run automatically on the database, and have the results emailed to you at specified intervals.
- Citation Alerts will email you whenever a specified journal article or author, usually yourself, is cited within a publication indexed on the database.
You will need to register on each database to set your alerts up. Depending on the breadth of your research area, you may find yourself doing a lot of initial leg-work creating alerts, but in the long run alerts will save you time and will only need the occasional tweak to keep on point.
This free current awareness service from the UK indexes nearly 30,000 journals from open access and subscription sources. UON does not hold an institutional subscription to the premium service, but the free option allows individual researchers to follow up to 30 journals, and the journal coverage includes a reasonable range of Arts, Humanities and Education titles.
- Register on the JournalTOCs platform.
- Once you’ve registered you will be sent a confirmation email, which will prompt you to sign up.
- Click “Account Settings” (top right of the screen) to set up your preferred frequency for alerts delivery or to temporarily deactivate all alerts.
- Click “Subjects A-Z” to browse journal titles or “Search” to search for a journal title.
- Tick any journals of interest, then click “Followed Journals” (top right) to see your list. A padlock icon indicates a subscription journal, therefore links in your alert emails may not open full-text. You can always check Newcat+ to see if the library subscribes to the title in these instances.
- Searches across indexed journals may be saved on this platform and run automatically. However, the interface is fairly unsophisticated. See the “Help” link for advice.
UON’s EBSCO subscription provides access to over 50 databases, including multidisciplinary titles such as Academic Search Complete and many subject-specific titles such as Education Research Complete, Art Full Text, Historical Abstracts, MLA Bibliography and SocINDEX. Setting up alerts on the EBSCO platform requires you to sign in (top of the screen).
Journal Alert: Click a journal article in your search results to open the full record, then click the hyperlinked journal title. From the journal’s Publication Details screen, click “Share” in the top right of screen and then “E-mail Alert” to have the TOC emailed to you when a new issue of the journal is added.
EBSCO provides an email alerting service even when, as in this case, the journal is only indexed on the database and the full-text is hosted on the publisher’s own website.
Save Searches / Alerts: Click the “Save Searches/Alerts” link (top of the Search History box) to keep a search to run again manually or as an Alert to be emailed as new material is added.
Choosing to save the search as an Alert allows you to specify how old search results should be, this ensures that only the most recent materials are emailed with each Alert, reducing overlap. Start with a wider time-frame, such as six months, to see how long it takes for new material to appear on EBSCO. You can easily edit your Alerts to reduce this time frame later.
UON’s ProQuest subscription provides access to the ProQuest Central suite of databases, Theses & Dissertations, ANZ Newsstand, LLBA, ERIC and ProQuest Education Journals. ProQuest requires you to sign into “My Research” (Head symbol top right) to create alerts.
Journal Alert: Click a journal article in your search results to open the full record, then click the hyperlinked journal title. On the Publication Information page, click “Set Up Alert”, and then “Create Alert” to have the TOC sent to you when a new issue of the journal is added.
ProQuest provides an email alerting service even when, as in this case, the full-text of the journal is embargoed for 12 months. Check the catalogue to see if the library subscribes to the title through any other means and, if not, request the full-text of interesting articles via GetIt.
Save Search/Alert: Click “Save Search/Alert” (under the search box, top of the screen) to keep a search to run again manually or as an Alert to be emailed as new material is added.
Web of Science
Web of Science (WoS) is a Thomson Reuters database which indexes over 12,000 academic journals from a range of sources including Social Sciences Citation Index (1956+), Arts & Humanities Citation Index (1975+) and Current Contents Connect. Sign in to set up your alerts.
Journal Alerts: This type of Alert can only be set up for titles indexed on Current Contents Connect, one of the databases which can be selected on the WoS homepage drop-down list.
To add a Journal Alert, click the “My Tools” drop-down (right side of the WoS toolbar) and select “Saved Searches & Alerts”. Select the “Journal Alerts” tab and use the “Add Journals” button to search or browse for journals that cover your specific areas of research.
Saved Searches: Select “All Databases” to run your search across the whole WoS platform. Click “Search History” (right side of the toolbar, next to “My Tools”) to see the Search History Table, here you can combine searches to narrow your focus. Duplicates are removed in cross-platform searches so result numbers may be approximate. Click the “Save History” button. Saved searches can be accessed and edited under “My Tools”, on the Saved Searches tab.
Cited Author Alert: To follow citations for a specific author, yourself for example, you can use the search form drop-down to select a Cited Reference Search. Enter the author’s name as the surname followed by up to three initials or use an asterisk to pick up all endings.
Click search to retrieve a list of documents from WoS that are linked to this author’s name. Click “Select All” and deselect any that are incorrect before clicking “Finish Search.”
The search result list contains links to documents citing this author’s publications. Click the “Create Alert” icon (left side column) and follow the instructions to have notifications sent to you whenever WoS records another citation to any of these documents. To edit a Cited Author search click on “My Tools” and go to the “Saved Searches” tab, not the “Citations Alerts” tab.
Citation Alerts: This type of Alert can only be created on the Web of Science Core Collection. Search for a specific article, or material in your research area, on this collection and click a useful article to open the full record. Click “Create Citation Alert” (on the right menu). Alerts can be accessed and edited in the “My Tools” drop-down >> “Citation Alerts” tab.
Scopus is an Elsevier database which indexes over 21,000 academic journals from the Social Sciences, Arts, Humanities, Technology and Science. Login to set up your alerts.
Journal Alerts: Search for material aligned your research interest on the Scopus platform. In the search results list, click a journal title to open the source record. Click the button to “Follow this Source” (right of screen) and fill in the popup box to set the Alert criteria
Alerts can be accessed and edited by clicking “Alerts” or “My Scopus” on the toolbar.
Search Alerts: Run your search on the Scopus platform. On the toolbar at the top of the search results screen click “Set Alerts”, to fill in the Alert criteria, or “Save” to rerun manually later.
Alerts and Saved Searches can both be edited by clicking “My Scopus” on the toolbar.
Citation Alerts: Click a journal article in your results list to open the full document record. Click the link to “Set Citation Alert” (right of the screen) to create a document citation alert which will send you an email whenever that document is cited in Scopus. Alerts can be accessed and edited by clicking “Alerts” or the “My Scopus” on the toolbar.
Author Citation Alerts: Click an author’s name in your results list to open the Scopus Author record, or use the Alerts box at the top of the Scopus screen to browse for an author. Click the button to “Follow this Author” (right of screen) and fill in the popup box to set the Alert criteria to send you emails when a new document is added to that author’s record in Scopus.
You’re getting the idea now! Many databases and resources allow you to register on their platforms in order to save searches and create different kinds of alerts. Take a look at the alerts section on each database’s help pages to work out how to get the most out of their interface.
A very special thanks to Ruth Talbot-Stokes for this guest post. Ruth is UON’s Faculty of Education and Arts dedicated Faculty Librarian and has a wealth of expertise relating to all things library and its resources.