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Study Skills

Wolfson College Academic Skills: Keeping up to date

Help with finding, managing and using information from the Wolfson Library Team.

Conducting a thorough literature search can be very satisfying. Unfortunately it can go out of date almost as soon as it is complete. During the course of your research you'll need to monitor new publications in your field to ensue that your thesis cites current debates and reflects on the latest research.

Top tips

  1. Set up keyword alerts on iDiscover to see which new books are being added to libraries in Cambridge.
  2. Use Browzine or Journal ToCs to stay on top of new issues of journals in your field.
  3. Set up profiles in your favourite databases and in Google Scholar so that you can create alerts for new articles that match your search terms.
  4. You will need to adjust your alerts depending on whether you get too many or too few alerts.
  5. You can usually choose how often you receive notifications so that you aren't bombarded with results..

Use the tabs below to explore how you can set up alerts for different types of publications and to keep on top of new opportunities.

How to

Screenshot of how to save a search on iDiscoverTo set up an alert in iDiscover, first login to your account (link on the top right of the screen).

Then conduct a search. Choose 'Cambridge Libraries Collections' for books and 'Articles and online resources' for articles. From the resuls screen, click on 'Save Query'.

Both these steps are highlighted in the image.


Screen shot of saved search pop up and link to turn on notificationA pop up box will appear at the top of the screen. This informs you that the search has been saved to your account.

Also in the box is a link to 'Turn on notification for this query'.

Click on this link to reveive email alerts every time somthing new is added iDiscover that matches your search terms.

Pop up box to enter your email address to receive notificationsFinally a pop up box appears. This is pre-populated with your Cambridge email address, though you can alter this. You can also name your query. Choose something meaningful, in case you set up several alerts. You may wish to date it to help you remember when you first conducted the search.

Screen shot of Browzine cover image

BrowZine gives you the ability to browse journal titles in subject areas of relevance to you. They are organised by subject taxonomy so you can drill down what is useful to you; you don't need to know the title before searching. It is integrated with our subscriptions, so you will be able to read what you find on there.

You can then organise those journals on virtual 'shelves' according to topics defined by you. BrowZine then updates you with new articles published in these journals and clearly displays unread articles new to your bookshelf. Create a free account to set up alerts to be notified by email of new articles in the journals that you follow.

 It integrates with Zotero and Mendeley to make it easy to save relevant articles.




JournalTOCs  claims to be the biggest searchable collection of scholarly journal Tables of Contents (TOCs). It contains articles' metadata of TOCs for over 35,862 journals directly collected from over 3800 publishers. this means it is more liely to be up to date than ZETOC. It also specialises in Open Access material, meaning you might be more likely to have access to newly published material

  • Lots of databases let you set up alerts to find out when something new matches your search terms or when something is cited. For example, Web of Science which, despite its name,  is a comprehensive database which covers all subject areas. It indexes 18 000 journals and providing full text access where we subscribe to content. You can set up an email alert to be notified when a paper is cited or a new paper matches your search terms. You'll need to register first, so you manage your alerts. When you set up an email alert you also have the option to view it an an RSS feed; you can then copy and paste the URL into a feed reader (see the tools section of this page).
  • SCOPUS is another database to use for alerts. See this information from National Institute of Health for guidance on how.
  • Find out about how articles are being cited in blogs, on Twitter, in the popular media, and included in Mendeley bibliographies by looking at Altmetric. Go to the Altmetric Explorer login. It will probably show you data about all outputs from the University of Cambridge. Just click on 'Edit search' at the top of the page. Be sure to change the tick box to say if you want to search the 'Full Altmetric database' or just 'My Institution Only'. Select the article from the list of results. On the article page there is a grey button on the right of the screen that says 'Alert me about new mentions'. Enter your email address. No matter how many articles you subscribe to, you only get one email per day.
  • Google Scholar lets you set up email alerts for any email address. Watch the video below to find out how.You'll need a Google account if you want to be able to manage your alerts. 

If you want to search the news for your topic search Factiva. To limit: select 'Source' and then 'Major News and Business Sources'. Choose the region you are interested in. You can then select particular titles if you want to limit your search. We do not recommend setting up alerts as they are linked to the shared university account. Instead, it is best to store your search string and rerun it at regular intervals.

Stay up to date with key stories in the news by reading Cambridge's research magazine Horizons. The Conversation is an independent source of news and views, sourced from the academic and research community and aimed at the public.

To find out about what is going on in Higher Education, you could try these services:

  • JISC mail is a national provider of email lists for UK Higher Education. There are several lists for every subject area. When you subscribe you can determine how frequently you'll receive emails from the list, or choose to receive them as an RSS feed. They are really useful for finding out about current debates, call for papers, workshops and conferences, and funding opportunities. 
  • Google alerts is a way of monitoring new information on the web. Type in search terms and it will email you when something new matches them. It won't, however, let you know about updates to a page. You can select how often you receive emails and whether to get them one at a time or as a digest. 
  • *Research provides information about job vacancies and funding opportunities, as well as news for the Higher Education Community. You need to login to Research Professional from the home page by selecting 'University of Cambridge'. Carry out a search and then you'll have the opportunity to sign up for email alerts.
  • Conference Alerts - Browse Conferences by topic or subscribe to this free service to keep informed about upcoming conferences

Social media is also a great way for researchers to stay up to date. See our tab on Developing Your Digital Footprint


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