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Researching the Literature Review

How to guide for researching and managing the literature review.

Topic Search Alerts

Many databases (including Google Scholar) let you save search alerts.  This can be helpful if you are researching a topic and want to know when new research comes out on the topic without having to go search in the database.  Once you set up an alert, you will receive an email as new articles on your topic are published. 

To set up an alert:

  1. Go to your database of choice
  2. Enter your search terms
  3. Look for an option to create an alert on the search results page.  You will be walked through the process of setting up an alert.  In most databases, you need an account to save a search alert.  Below are two examples of how to set up alerts using a subject database and Google Scholar.

screenshot of how to create an alert using a database of choice

screenshot of how to create an alert using Google Scholar


Table of Contents Alerts

Many journal websites provide the option to get alerts for the tables of contents (TOCs) of their newest issue.  This can be useful for keeping up more broadly in your field (a great strategy for prelims or comps).  Look up a journal in your field.  Most journal websites contain a link called something like alerts, Table of Contents, or RSS feeds.  If you sign up for alerts to journals the library subscribes to, you should also be able to open the full-text of articles that you are interested in.  However, you (and the library) don't have to subscribe to a journal to receive table of contents alerts.

screenshot of how to get alerts from ejournals


JournalTOCs is a free service that helps you find many journal table of contents all in one place. Other features include:

  • Search by subject to find major journals in a discipline.
  • Receive email or RSS notifications when a new table of contents is available for a journal of interest. 
  • Set up email or RSS feeds for several journals at one time.
  • Use JournalTOCs as a large, free, database to find articles by keyword searching.

screenshot of JournalTOCs

Alert Ideas

Not only can alerts be used for topics and journal table of contents, you can also get alerts for:

  • specific authors (useful for tracking important researchers in your field)
  • citations (useful for tracking when someone cites either an article you write or an important article in your field - see how in Google Scholar)


To Do - Set Up an Alert

1. Go to your preferred subject database.  Search for a topic of interest to you.  Look for an alert option and set up an alert for your search.

2. Use JournalTOCs to find a journal in your discipline.  Set up an alert for the table of contents.