Keeping Up: RSS Feeds and Email Alerts

As we all get busier, one of the more difficult things to stay on top of is the explosion of journals and journal articles that may be of interest in your field. This can be especially difficult with electronic journals. Most databases and journal publishers have built-in alerting services to help you keep up with the latest research. There are generally two ways to be alerted, RSS feeds and email alerts. Alerts can contain either the table of contents of a new journal issue, or the results of a specific search. Each time new articles are added to the journal or database that matches your criteria, you receive a new alert.

Since we now all use Google mail, one option is to use Google Reader to subscribe to RSS feeds from blogs, web pages, databases and journals. RSS (Really Simple Syndication) technology enables anyone to “subscribe” to content on the web and have updates downloaded into their RSS feed reader automatically. For a simple explanation of RSS feeds, watch this brief YouTube video tutorial “RSS in Plain English“. (doing this early morning is better than mid-afternoon)

Another approach, if you don’t mind getting updates via email, is to set up an email alert within a journal or database. For example, if I do a search in the Gale OneFile database for (diversity OR multicultural) AND pedagogy, I get 175 journal articles. If I want to be alerted each time a new article appears on this topic, I would click…


Here is another example. I want to be alerted each time a new article about teaching and diversity appears in the journal New Directions for Teaching and Learning. So, I went to the publisher’s website and set up an alert for a specific topic within a specific journal.

In databases like ScienceDirect and Web of Knowledge, you can set up RSS or email citation alerts so that you are notified each time someone else has cited an article you have published.

One thing to keep in mind is that you may need to create a user account in a database or publisher’s website where you want to create an alert. “Remember to write down the user name and password you select for each.

Here is a selected list of the journal publishers and databases that offer RSS feeds and/or alerts.

  • ACS Journals
  • Blackwell Synergy Journals
  • CSA Databases (BioOne, Biological Sciences, EconLit, PsycInfo etc.)
  • EBSCOhost (America History & Life, CINAHL etc.)
  • Gale Cengage Databases (OneFile etc.)
  • Ingenta (set up five table of contents alerts for free)
  • Oxford Journals
  • ProQuest (ABI Inform)
  • Sage Full-text Journals
  • SpringerLink Journals
  • Wiley Interscience
  • Web of Knowledge (Web of Science)

If you are interested in learning how to create an alert or RSS feed for these and other sources, please contact a Reference Librarian.

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