Many databases (including Google Scholar) let you save search alerts. This can be helpful if you are researching a topic and want to know when new research comes out on the topic without having to go search in the database. Once you set up an alert, it is generated automatically through either email or RSS feed. Go to your database of choice, enter your search terms, then look for an option to create an alert on the search results page. You will be walked through the process of setting up an alert. In most databases, you need an account to save a search alert.
Many journal websites provide the option to get alerts for the tables of contents (TOCs) of their newest issue. This can be useful for keeping up more broadly in your field (a great strategy for prelims or comps). Look up a journal in your field. Most journal websites contain a link called something like alerts, Table of Contents, or RSS feeds. If you sign up for alerts to journals the library subscribes to, you should also be able to open the full-text of articles that you are interested in. However, you (and the library) don't have to subscribe to a journal to receive table of contents alerts.
Not only can alerts be used for topics and journal table of contents, you can also get alerts for:
JournalTOCs is a free service that helps you find many journal table of contents all in one place. Other features include:
You can get many alerts through RSS feeds. Never heard of RSS feeds? RSS is a format for delivering regularly changing web content, like news-related sites, blogs, article databases and journals. To use RSS feeds, you will need a piece of software known as an RSS reader. Here is a list of commonly used RSS readers to get you started.
1. Go to your preferred subject database. Search for a topic of interest to you. Look for an alert option and set up an alert for your search.
2. Use JournalTOCs to find a journal in your discipline. Set up an alert for the table of contents.