Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Resources for My Subject

African Studies Training

Utilising Tools & Alerts For Your Research

We’ll look at a few discovery platforms and see how you can exploit their settings and account features to aid your research.   

I’ll be demonstrating the steps during our online session.  

Do feel free to follow along and set up accounts and alerts 'live' or wait and use the boxes below to refer to as guides on how to use these additional research tools. 

We'll be focussing on how to use the following platforms, but these tips are largely transferrable:

  • Google Scholar
  • Web of Science

Google Scholar - Top Tips!

Check and tweak your settings!​

  • Bibliography manager​ - choose how you want your citations to be formatted

  • Library links – select institution & tick for off-campus access ​

  • Account​ - set your search results settings

  • Download the 'Scholar Button'

Make sure that you...

  • Create alerts

  • Save articles, and manage them from your library

See the following slides to set up some of these functions.

Maximise Your Settings on Google Scholar

Google Scholar landing page


Google Scholar menu options highlighted


  • Select the menu from the top left of the screen to view your options 

  • Click on 'Settings' at the bottom.

Google Scholar settings - search results

STEP 3: Tweak your 'Search Results' settings. 
  • Choose whether to search 'articles' or 'case law' and whether to include 'patents' in your articles search. 
  • Check your 'Bibliography Manager' search results settings, 
  • Choose which reference management software option is most applicable for your citations.

Google Scholar - Library Links


  • Make sure that you check 'Library Links' and search for Cambridge. 

  • Then select the 'University of Cambridge - ejournals@cambridge' option (you can keep WorldCat checked too)

Google Scholar - account settings


  • Check your 'Account' and insure that 'Signed-in off-campus' is selected,

  • Make your choice on 'Search activity'

Google Scholar - alers


  • Select the 'Alerts' option from the drop down menu. 

  • Select 'Create alert'.  Use your keywords to create an alert for newly published material! 

  • You can create as many alerts as you like, and you can always access them from the 'Alerts' option - you may receive too many, so you can always delete them here too.

Google Scholar - My Library


  • If you 'save' any articles (by clicking on the star icon under an article) when performing a search on Google Scholar, they will be saved to 'My Library'. 

  • Above is a screenshot of how your saved articles will appear. 

  • From 'My Library' you can further manage your saved articles by creating labels etc.  We'll go through this further in the session.

Top Tips for Creating Journal & Database Alerts

  • Identify relevant journal titles & database platforms (try JCR on Web of Science or BrowZine for top ranking journals – details to follow)​

  • Set up basic individual accounts

  • Set up preferences

  • Create alerts

  • Look out for further tools and tutorials on each database to optimise your searches ​

Zetoc - the Current Awareness Tool

Zetoc is a current awareness tool giving you access to over 39,500 journals and more than 65.5 million article citations and conference papers via the British Library’s curation of electronic table of contents.  The collection is updated daily. 

You are able to easily set up alerts and RSS feeds to particular journals and/or searches for particular authors and titles in your research area.   

Links to articles will then arrive in your inbox as they are published! 

  • N.B. Take note of the most relevant articles – journal titles this will be useful for setting up your alerts)

See the following 2 sections on how to search for content, and create alerts on Zetoc.

Sadly this service will be retired in August 2022 - but will still be of use for the meantime!

Searching Zetoc

Zetoc Search


  • Head to Zetoc

  • I recommend performing a search first (using 'General Search') to scope contents, to get an idea of journals or authors most relevant to your field of research.

Zetoc 2 General Search


  • Select your keywords that you are going to use and perform a search (at this stage just keep to the 'All Fields' top line search)

Zetoc Search Results


  • You can sort results by reverse date (newest first) or title (alphabetised list) 

  • Select the 'Record Title' to view the 'Full Record'. Or toggle views to include abstracts alongside each result.   

  • Select the checkbox to 'Tag' a record for emailing or downloading (the default is to email or download all results, so do spend time selecting the most interesting items) 

Zetoc results - history


  • If you’ve forgotten which searches you have performed – whilst in the search mode click on History (top right) and from here you can see what you have performed

Creating Zetoc Alerts

Zetoc Alert screenshot


  • Create alerts using the Zetoc Alert – Access option on the home screen

  • Input your email address and think of a clear list name (separate out your topics - you have multiple lists)

  • Enter your search terms, remember phrase searching/Boolean operators.  Take the time to experiment.

  • Zetoc Alert will send you emails listing the table of contents from journals, and articles that match your keyword searches.

Adding journals to Zetoc list


  • Add journals to your list using the 'Add' button to the left of the journal title

  • The journal title will now appear on your list

  • After a few days you'll soon see if your chosen alert parameters are useful.  If they are too narrow or broad - go to your alerts and modify/delete

  • There are tutorials to assist you with setting up your tailored alerts - ​

Plugins & Open Access (OA)

The Electronic Collection Management Team have brought together some excellent resources on their home page​ to aid you with accessing full text or Open Access versions of articles.

                                        eresources homepage


Try Browzine for exploring journals in your subject area!


  • Create a personal account - this will allow you to save, share, cite articles, as well as create a 'Bookshelf' for favourite journals
  • Browse by subject - Area Studies/African Studies is included under the 'Social Science & Behavioural Science' option
  • You can of course add journals by title to your 'bookshelf'

Still Can't Get Access? Try ILL or Scan & Deliver Services

If you still can't get access to a full-text version even after installing plugins, firstly get in touch​, and I can double-check access routes and advise you on availability.

Use the Scan & Deliver services at the many libraries across Cambridge  

The UL is providing Scan & Deliver for items from the Modern Collections, as well as Special Collections, and prints of E-Legal Deposit materials (small charge for ELD at £2 per printout).  

Many Faculty Libraries offer these services too, check their websites!

Inter Library Loans

If you can't access books or journals through any of the Cambridge Libraries (College, Faculty, or the UL) please note that you can order entire books (must be consulted onsite at the UL) and receive secure delivery of articles, via the Inter-Library Loan (ILL) Department at the UL.  Currently this service is free due to restricted travel in some circumstances.

We can also loan, or ask for materials to be scanned from global institutions, please see the charges here​.

© Cambridge University Libraries | Accessibility | Privacy policy | Log into LibApps | Report a problem