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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 Unfortunately it can go out of date almost as soon as it is complete.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.

Click on the type of resource below to find out how to set up feeds and alerts


  • You can set up alerts to see new books in all Cambridge Libraries that match your search terms. To get email alerts, see the video below. Make sure that you are logged in to your library account first or you won't see the option to Save Query.
  • Many publishers also let you register your preferences so that you can receive alerts of new titles in your field, such as Cambridge University Press

iDiscover email alerts

Setting up feeds and alerts

Set up alerts so that you are notified every time a new issue of a journal is published. These two services can be searched like a database, but they are designed to generate RSS feeds and so it is very straightforward to set them up:

  • Browzine BrowZine gives you the ability to browse journal titles by their titles and to see those titles in subject areas of relevance to you. Once journals are found, they can be stored into a personal bookshelf. BrowZine then updates you with new articles published in these journals and clearly displays unread articles new to your bookshelf.
  • ​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
  • Journal Publishers let you set alerts to the Tables of Contents for their journals. See this example from Taylor and Francis.
  • Alternatively, follow a journal's Twitter feed to find out when new issues or articles are published.
  • 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. 

Setting up email alerts in Google Scholar

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.


Another great resource isLexis Library News - primarily for UK regional and national papers. when you have connected, select 'News' from the header.


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. 
  • Watch that page does just that: it monitors changes on specific pages. You can see when a profile is updated or news is added on a site. It is free for 70 downloads a week; that is 10 pages downloaded every day or 70 pages downloaded once a week.
  • *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.

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

  • For past papers, databases such as Web of Science and Scopus index thousands of conference papers. Limit your search by resource type.
  • Conference Alerts: Academic Conferences Worldwide - Browse Conferences by Topic or subscribe to this free service to keep informed about upcoming conferences

How to receive updates

There are two main ways to do this:

  • Email You usually conduct a search on a catalogue or database and then save the search and input your email address. You'll receive an email whenever a new item is added which matches your search terms. You can set up rules so that emails from specific senders or with specific words in the title get sent straight to a specific folder. That way, your inbox won't get too crowded.
  • RSS (Really Simple Syndication) You can just view these in your browser on a case by case basis. However, they are most useful when subscribed to. You'll need to set up a feed reader to view updated feeds and get alerts about new content. ​See some suggestions below.

Social Media

Follow academics on Twitter to find out about their latest publications and what they are reading.


Feed readers
  • Feedly -  makes feeds look good and includes images. You can keep up with YouTube subscriptions, receive keyword alerts directly from Google and create collections to make lengthy information easier to get through. Set up alerts from Feedly to email by using Zapier or IFTTT.
  • Feeder -  has a Google Chrome and a Safari extension so you can subscribe and access feeds directly while you're browsing. It is also configured for mobile with an iOS app and a responsive web version for Android or Windows Phone users.

You might find that, as with Social Media, you spend most of your time deleting irrelevant posts. Luckily there are lots of filters out there which means you can limit the amount of data you receive and therefore need to read. 

  • FeedRinse is one such service. You limit what you see or block keywords, authors or tags. Upload your feeds, edit them and then return them to your reader.

Please note that you will need to sign up to these services. We recommend that if you use your Cambridge email address, you do not use your Raven password but choose another one instead.


Unless otherwise stated, this work is licenced under a CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0 licence by Wolfson College Cambridge.

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