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Journal Alerts and Search Alerts

Many databases and electronic journals now offer an alert feature that allows researchers to get automatic updates with the table of contents from their favorite journals, or new results from their favorite searches. If you are doing ongoing research and you want to keep up with new developments on a topic, alerts can save time and help you stay focused on your research. When you set up an alert, updates from your favorite journals or searches are automatically sent to your e-mail address (or an RSS news reader).

How to Create Alerts

The steps for creating an alert are different for each database or electronic journal, but here are a few general tips. First, connect to a database or electronic journal. If you connect to a database, run a search for your topic or for the name of a particular journal. Then look for an "alert" link on the results page. If you connect to an electronic journal, look for an "alert" link on the main page. When you select an "alert" link, follow the instructions on your screen to set up the alert and start getting your regular updates.

Some publisher offer online tutorials to demonstrate these steps. Here is a selection of tutorials from leading publishers:

RSS Feeds RSS feed

RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is an easy-to-use technology that can help you keep track of news and research in your field. With an RSS news reader, you can display content from your favorite journals, newspapers, web sites, and blogs in one place, eliminating the need to visit each source. You decide what you want to see and organize it in a way that makes sense to you.

In many cases, journal or search alerts can be sent to you by RSS rather than by e-mail. One advantage of using an RSS news reader to manage your alerts is that alert messages will not clog up your e-mail inbox and distract you from day-to-day work. If you are not currently using a news reader and you want to learn more, we recommend the guide to feed readers.

If you are already using a news reader and you want to subscribe to feeds from library databases and electronic journals, look for an RSS or XML option on database search results screens or electronic journal homepages. This option is usually found near an orange icon like the one displayed at the top of this section. Sometimes an RSS option is available within an e-mail alert link. If your news reader is open, it may automatically find the feed and offer you the choice to subscribe and get regular updates. Otherwise, you may need to copy the link from the RSS or XML screen, and then paste the link into your news reader. See the help screens in your news reader software for details about how to subscribe to a feed by pasting the link into your software.


If you have any questions about e-mail alerts or RSS alerts, please Ask a Librarian. We would be happy to help!



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Last updated or reviewed on 4/2/10

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