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Education - Doing Literature Reviews


To stay current, without having to constantly repeat your searches, you may want to set up 'alerts.'  These will automatically notify you when new material of interest to you is published. You can choose to receive your alerts via e-mail or RSS feed.  Choose the method that integrates best into your workflow.


Depending on the database, the following types of alerts are possible:


  • Search alerts which automatically run a previous search and provide you with information about newly available items.
  • Table of Contents alerts which tell you when a new issue of a journal is added, and often include the Table of Contents 
  • Citation/author alerts which tell you when a work (including YOUR work) has been cited in a particular database.

In journal databases, you must sign up for a FREE personal account in order to set up an alert (see example in box beneath). Lots more information about alerts, including instructional videos, is available on the Library’s Current Awareness page.

In Google Scholar simply do your search, then click on "Create alert" (bottom left column on the results page).  It will prompt you to supply your email address.


Alert Example (EBSCO databases)

Here's an alert set-up in the ERIC database on the EBSCO platform.  Once I sign-in to my EBSCO account, I go to my folder, where I can set-up or review my search alerts, as well as any saved searches, saved articles etc.

What is RSS?

RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is a technology that allows you to receive updates from journals, web sites, library databases and other online resources all in one location.  The information is supplied through an "RSS feed" that you subscribe to, and it's collected by a feed reader (also called an aggregator).

All you need is a feed reader or news aggregator, such as Google Reader.  Most are free and some are specically for mobile devices.  RSS feed readers are also incorporated into most recent browsers and some email programs, such as Outlook.  

Then just find sites that have RSS feeds for subscription.  An RSS feed usually looks like this:

Finding RSS for journals

Often the easiest way to find an RSS for a journal that you have identified as relevant, is to Google the journal title.  Type the journal title in quotes to find it more efficiently.

Finding the journal's webpage, through Google, usually results in a "cleaner" RSS feed.

Many of journals you access through the Library also have a RSS feed.  The RSS feeds are not as "clean" so you will need to strip some information from the RSS feed URL.

The information you MUST delete in order for the feed to work is:


should be:

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