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Searching the literature

A guide for staff and students undertaking a thorough literature review

Alerts or notifications

notification icon from https://www.iconfinder.com/zapolzunAlerts or notifications are an effective way to keep up to date with new information on your topic. Many databases and Library catalogues allow you to set up automated alerts when new items are added that match your search. 

Alerts are usually sent by email or RSS feed.

You might choose to receive alerts when:

  • A journal publishes a new issue - get the table of contents
  • An author has a new document published
  • A library acquires a new item, or an item matching your saved search
  • A database finds new results that match your saved search

Journal Tables of Contents (ToCs)

To receive an email alert from OneSearch when a new issue of a journal is published:

  1. Choose Advanced search
  2. Choose Articles and more search
  3. Select ISSN from the field drop-down menu
  4. Enter the ISSN of the journal (you can find this on OneSearch or the journal's homepage)
  5. Save the query
  6. Turn on email alerts 

  1. search and alerts menu with journal alerts highlightedSign in to Web of Science with your personal account
  2. Click 'Searches and alerts' on the blue  menu bar
  3. Choose 'Journal alerts'
  4. Enter the journal title you wish to set alerts for. 

Search alerts

OneSearch and many databases available from the Library provide a saved search alert option. Once you have conducted a search, you can save it and choose to receive an email alert periodically or when something new matches your search.

  1. Log in to OneSearch
  2. Conduct your search
  3. Click 'Save query' at the top of the list of results save query icon
  4. A yellow bar will appear at the top of the screen confirming that your search query has been saved, and inviting you to 'Turn on notification for this query'.  turn on notification for this query
  5. Click 'Turn on notification for this query' to confirm your email address 
  6. You saved searches are stored on your eShelf in OneSearch. eshelf pin icon
  1. Create an account and sign in to Scopus
  2. Conduct a Document search in Scopus
  3. Click the Set alert icon set alert
  4. From the Set search alert page or Set Alert pop-up, enter a ‘Name of alert’.
  5. In ‘E-mail address’, enter the email address for alert notifications.
  6. From ‘Frequency’, select how often you want to receive alert email notices. Note: If there are no new documents matching your alert criteria during the timeframe or frequency you choose, you will not receive an alert.
  7. Select ‘Active’ or ‘Inactive’ as the status of your alert. You can change this setting on the Alerts page without losing your frequency preferences. Setting an alert to ‘Inactive’ status does not delete the alert.
  8. Click ‘Save’ or ‘Set Alert’ to save the alert.
 
  1. search and alerts menu with saved searches and alerts highlightedSign in to Web of Science with your personal account
  2. Click 'Searches and alerts' on the blue  menu bar
  3. Choose 'Journal alerts'
  4. Enter the journal title you wish to set alerts for. 

Citation alerts

Databases that track citations (when one author references another's work) can also be used to create citation alerts. This is useful for keeping up to date with ideas or findings building on those expressed in a key paper. 

  1. undefinedCreate an account and sign in to Scopus
  2. Conduct a Document search to find the work
  3. Click on the title to go to the record of the work
  4. On the right, in the 'Cited by' panel click 'Set citation alert'
  5. Complete the dialogue box with your email address and preferred frequency of alert 
 
  1. Sign in to Web of Science with your personal account
  2. Search for the work
  3. Click on the title to go to the record of the workcreate citation alert
  4. On the right, in the 'Citation Network' panel, click 'Create Citation Alert' 
  5. Save the alert
  1. Create an account and sign in to Google Scholar
  2. Search for the work using the author's name and the title
  3. Click 'Cited by x' under the work to see a list of works citing this one 
  4. On the left, click 'Create alert' create alert
  5. Complete the dialogue box with your email address 

Social media

Social media can be very useful for keeping up to date with conversations and updates from organisations and individuals. 

Consider following or liking:

  • Publisher or journal accounts
  • Fellow academics and practitioners who share work and ideas on social media
  • Organisations that are aligned to your subject area
  • Search using hashtags that are current in your field or area of interest e.g. #phdchat 

Warning! Always be aware of the potential harm of filter-bubbles, echo chambers and the need to fact check when relying on social media for information and public engagement.