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Researcher Skills Toolkit

Keep up-to-date

6 Keep to to date


Research is constantly updated with new knowledge. If you are working on a thesis, literature review or other project over an extended period, it is important to stay up to date with new literature.

Alerts can be set up via journal databases, publisher websites, social media and Internet search engines, such as Google.

Click the tabs below for more information on how to keep up to date..

Search alerts help you to:

  • keep up to date with the latest research added to journal databases or current issues of journals 
  • identify new areas of research 
  • stay notified when specific publications or authors are cited
  • re-run saved searches to save time and ensure a consistent search strategy is implemented.

In this video University of Newcastle researchers explain how they stay current with the latest scholarly literature in their field.

Some journals include guidelines on how often searches for their published reviews should be updated. For example the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions states: 

The published review should be as up to date as possible. Searches for all the relevant databases should be rerun prior to publication if the initial search date is more than 12 months (preferably six months) from the intended publication date. (Cochrane Handbook, 4.4.10

Most journal databases include features that allow you to set up alerts. To use them, you will need to create an account for the database. The frequency of delivery can be adjusted to suit your needs, and alerts can be suspended or cancelled as required. 

1. Saved search alerts 

Saving your search will allow you to run the same search again later. It will also serve as a record of the searches that you have previously run in the database. Search alerts will notify you when a new item that satisfies your search is added to the database. You will need to set up saved searches and search alerts separately for each database that you use. 

  • Check the Saved Search Alerts page in our Alerting Services guide for more details including instructions for setting up alerts in EBSCO, Proquest, Scopus and OVID databases.

2. Journal alerts 

Table of contents alerts provide notification when records for new issues of journals have been published and added to a database.  

  • Check the Journal Alerts page in our Alerting Services guide for how to setup alerts in EBSCO, Proquest, Scopus and OVID databases.

3. Citation Alerts 

Citation alerts can be set up to generate alerts whenever a nominated article or author is cited by another author: 

They are useful for:

  • Individual publications – to notify you when newly added database records cite a publication 
  • Authors – to notify you when newly added database records cite any publications by an author 

NOTE: Journal databases identify only citations indexed within that database. Therefore, the number of citations can differ between databases. 

  • Check the Citation Alerts page in our Alerting Services guide for how to setup alerts in Scopus, Web of Science and OVID databases. 

Table of contents alerts provide notification each time a new issue of a journal is published. Databases often take some time to add new records, so it is usually timelier to set up table of content alerts directly at the journal website. 

  • Journal Alerts website provides the ability to set up journal table of contents services with over 32,000 international journals (via JournalTOCs). 

Some publishers (including Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, Elsevier, and Springer) provide the ability to track citations for articles they publish. 

Google provides the ability to set up: 

  • Google Scholar Alerts provides alerts when a topic, publication or author is cited in Google records. Check Google Scholar Alerts Search Tips for more information.
  • Alerts based on new results appearing in Google for topics relating to news, products or mentions.Check Google Search Help for instructions on how to create, edit, and delete Google alerts. 

Many book publishers provide the option to send alerts when new publications in an area of interest are published. Check individual publisher websites for more details. 

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