An updated version of this post is available here.
Our online resources make it easier than ever to keep up with new research developments in your area of interest. You can save searches and set up email alerts or RSS feeds from specific publisher sites, literature databases, and web search engines. Table of contents alerts from individual journals and topical searches across entire literature databases (or multiple databases) are possible. Many journals publish post-review preprints of accepted articles far in advance of the print issues, so you can be alerted as soon as items are posted. This post gives some basic instructions for setting up topical search alerts for commonly used databases and search engines (Engineering Village, Google Scholar, Scopus, and Web of Science). In many cases, registration with the vendor is required, although you can create RSS feeds in Engineering Village and Scopus without registering, and Google Scholar does not require a Google account for an email alert. For help setting up email or RSS alerts in these or other resources, contact your librarian.
For an email alert, registration is required, but not for an RSS feed. To create an alert perform your search, then click either “Create alert” for an email alert, or “RSS feed” for RSS. Engineering Village searches many sources simultaneously: INSPEC, Compendex, the National Technical Information Service (NTIS, government reports), US and European patents, GEOBASE, and GeoRef (the latter covering literature in ecology, the environment, and archaeology as well as geology). You can subscribe to an RSS feed using one of the options offered in the Engineering Village interface or your favorite feed reader. To add the feed to your Outlook account, copy the feed URL from the popup window in Engineering Village, then in Outlook right click on “RSS feeds” (below your mail account), select “add a new RSS feed,” and paste the URL into the box.
You do not need a Google account to create an email alert in Google Scholar. To create an alert, perform your search, then click “Create alert” on the left side of the screen. You can enter any email address into the alert form; Google will send a verification link to that address which you must click to begin receiving alert emails. You can receive up to 20 results per email, and results are emailed as items are indexed in Google Scholar. Only email alerts are offered, not RSS feeds. Each email includes an “Cancel alert” link. Google Scholar indexes new journal literature from many diverse sources very rapidly and captures grey literature which many traditional databases exclude. More information about Google Scholar alerts is here.
Another way to stay current using Google Scholar is “My Updates.” If you create an account and add your own publications to your “My Citations” profile, you can not only monitor your citation metrics, the “My Updates” link will retrieve publications that are similar to your own publications. Click here to learn how to set up your Google Citations profile.
For an email alert, registration is required, but not for an RSS feed. To create an alert, perform a search, then select either “Set alert” for an email alert or “Set feed” to create an RSS feed from the search. You can subscribe to the RSS feed using one of the options offered in the Scopus interface or your favorite feed reader. To add the feed to your Outlook account, copy the feed URL from Scopus, then in Outlook right click on “RSS feeds” (below your mail account), select “add a new RSS feed,” and paste the URL into the box.
Web of Science
You’ll need to register with Web of Knowlege to save searches and create alerts. Your registration will also work for Biological Abstracts, CAB Abstracts, and Zoological Record, and the alert instructions are the same. To create an alert, perform a search, then use the “Create Alert/RSS” button to create an alert from the search. Note that it is not currently possible to save searches for Web of Knowledge “all database” searches; alerts must be set up in each database separately.