Keeping up-to-date with new ideas and research is an essential part of the research process. However the sheer number of journal articles published each year can make this a daunting task.
There are a number of techniques and resources that can help you keep up-to-date with newly published materials in your area of interest. These include:
For more information see the guidance below.
BrowZine draws together many of our e-journals in an attractive, easy to use interface. Download the app to create your own 'bookshelf' of journal titles and to be alerted to new issues - it's then easy to see new tables of contents. You can save articles to read at a more convenient time, or export the citation details to EndNote or another referencing system.
Publishers will often give the option of setting up alerts for new books in your field - try looking for 'email notifications' or look in the information for researchers.
Journal publishers may also provide a free alerting service. This may be email alerts of tables of contents (TOC) of new issues, or through a database of journal articles. In most cases you will need to register for a free account.
Alternatively, Journal TOCs provides peer-reviewed scholarly journal tables of contents free of charge. It covers more than 35,000 journals, including more than 17,000 selected Open Access journals and more than 12,000 hybrid journals.
If you need help setting up alerts or using databases:
Databases are organized collections of published journal articles, conference papers, government documents and other works, which can be searched in a systematic manner. Setting up email alerts based on your searches or on specific journal titles is the most efficient way to keep up to date with new publications in your area.
To use the alerting facilities on most databases you will need to create a personal account once logged in.
We subscribe to a range of databases: some cover all subject areas (such as Web of Science, Scopus), some cover particular types of publication (for instance, Index to theses), and some cover specific subject areas (for example, MLA Bibliography for English Literature). You will need to establish which are the most appropriate databases to search - see your subject guide for guidance.
Once you have found a suitable search (or searches), you will need to repeat them regularly to pick up any new publications. You can set up email alerts to automate this process. See the other tabs in this box for details of how to do this on the most popular databases.
You can also set up citation alerts so that if a new paper appears which cites a key article you will be informed.
The Web of Science platform gives access to several databases including the Web of Science Core Collection (citation indexes covering all subjects and conference proceedings), Medline (biomedical sciences) and BIOSIS Previews (biological abstracts). You can search one or all of these databases and save your searches to re-run against the latest updates to the databases. You can also set up citation alerts (so that you are notified when someone cites your key articles). There's also a current awareness service in the Web of Science called Current Contents Connect.
Scopus is a large bibliographic database covering all subjects which includes selected conference proceedings and over 34,000 journals. Scopus allows you to set up alerts for particular authors, documents (so that you are notified when someone cites a particular article), or searches. Searches can be for a range of criteria including keywords, journal title, and an author’s affiliation.
Google Scholar is the academic version of Google - it is not a database but a search engine. It will allow you to search the web for scholarly literature (journal articles, books, patents) from a variety of sources, including academic publishers, professional societies and online repositories, but there is no guarantee that what it finds has been through an editorial process. It is possible to set up simple searches as alerts.
The video below from Fiji National University explains how to set up a search alert.
Weblogs or blogs can be a useful, informal way to keep-up-to-date with new developments. Your favourite researcher may write a blog, or you can search for one which covers your field of interest.
Altmetrics (alternative or non-traditional metrics) can help you track down bloggers and tweeters in your subject field. The amount of media attention an article receives is indicated by the Altmetric donut that you will see on a record for an article, for example in Summon. If you click on the donut, it will open an altmetric details page in the Altmetric.com website. From here you can find a list of bloggers or tweeters who have mentioned the article.
Potential problems include
Search our discovery service Summon to find altmetrics for literature in your subject area.
Twitter can provide an indication of the immediate impact of a journal article. By following people with similar research interests you will hear about new articles first. Salma Patel provides a useful Prezi on 10 ways researchers can use Twitter (although a bit old now it still has some useful tips!)
You can find relevant tweeters on your topic by using Altmetrics (see the Blogs tab in this box)
There are a number of scholarly collaboration networks (SCNs) you can join to post articles, discover other articles and follow researchers.
Please be aware that Academia.edu and ResearchGate are not open access archiving repositories and should not be used for this purpose. They do not fulfil funder and University Open Access requirements or HEFCE REF requirements, and they may infringe copyright. Before posting your articles to these sites, check each publishers policy on howcanishareit.com.