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Advanced Information Research Skills


New references on your topic will continue to be published as you are writing your thesis. Keeping up to date with the latest research is essential. Automating this process by setting up alerts will save time, effort and assist you to stay up to date with research in your area of expertise. An alert is an easy and effective way to get recent articles in your research area. Most databases allow for various types of alerts – find out when: 

  • a new journal issue is published – a table of contents alert
  • an author publishes a new work – author alert
  • an article is cited – citation alert
  • new articles are published that match a saved search – search result alert.


RSS stands for "Really Simple Syndication", it is a format for delivering information on sites that update regularly. The icons shown on the slide indicate that an RSS feed is available from the site. It has advantages over email because you do not have to sign up to access feeds, instead you subscribe by entering the URL for the feed into your chosen method of access. You can read RSS feeds in a number of ways, including using feed readers, web browsers, and Microsoft Outlook.

View this section on RSS alerts from our Researcher Development: Alert Services workshop (3m16s to 12m30s).

Table of Contents (TOC) alerts send emails listing the contents of the latest issue of a journal. This means you can read what you are interested in as soon as it is published. You can set up a journal alert via many databases, or directly from journal home pages. It may be necessary to register for a profile. Table of Contents alerts might also be called ‘New Article’ ‘New Content’ or ‘Journal’ alerts. Examples of resources that give you access to TOC alerts are linked below.

You can also go directly to almost all journal home pages or publishers’ websites, to select a particular journal you are interested in and sign up for a TOC alert.

View this section on table of contents alerts from our Researcher Development: Alert Services workshop (12m 25s to 34m 27s).

Create a citation alert for your own publications so you’re alerted when someone cites your work, or create an alert for an author you would like to follow. When a new citation becomes available in the database, you’ll receive an alert. See below links for instructions for Google Scholar citations.

To set an alert in Scopus – register or sign in. To be notified when an author or matched authors are cited in Scopus, on the Author details page click the "Set Alert" link in the row above the citation information.

View this section on citation alerts from our Researcher Development: Alert Services workshop (24m 28s to 44m 33s).

Search alerts send emails listing newly published literature according to a search statement. Use search alerts with your best search statements; those proven to find a high quality list of relevant results. It may be necessary to register for a profile.

A search alert may be available from the database search results page. Alternatively, it might be necessary to save the search and view the saved search before setting the alert. Once an alert is set, the database will send an email with the latest results within your specified timeframe.

The databases mentioned in the Table of Contents and Citation alerts sections above also allow you to save search alerts. You can also set up a Google search alert.

View this section on database search alerts from our Researcher Development: Alert Services workshop (44m 33s to 49m 30s).

Activity - Database search alert

At the Notre Dame Library home page

  • Click on the Find menu item, and then eResources A-Z.
  • Identify and log in to a large and/or subject specific database highly relevant for your research.
  • Register to create a profile. This enables you to create alerts and have them sent to you.
  • Develop a comprehensive search statement. The results should be good enough for you to wish to receive via email.
  • Find the ‘create alert’ functionality and fill in your details to receive notifications.