Aug. 21, 2012 – A wealth of academic information and data is published every day. Keeping up with all these new publications can be a daunting task. At one time, librarians regularly flipped through new journal issues, comparing contents against index cards submitted by faculty listing areas of interest and typing up bibliographies of potential matches. Now alerting services (also called current awareness services) can provide such lists automatically. Alerts can be sent from publishers, article-indexing databases, or third parties that combines these sources.
There are several kinds of alerts you can receive, through email or RSS feeds:
Note that you can easily receive table of contents to journals that are not part of the Virginia Tech Libraries subscriptions or article citations to which we have no local access. The links provided in your alerts may point to a vendor that is not the source we use to obtain the content. Off campus users may need to take extra steps to access linked content. In any case, there are some simple steps you can take to access any content you are alerted to.
Once you are alerted to the existence of a journal issue or article, check the Journal Title Database to see if there is online or print availability. For journal articles not owned locally or available electronically, submit a request through ILLiad.
Many journal and other academic publishers provide alerting services for their publications. Most publishers provide this service for free (so a library subscription to their publications is not needed), though registration is typically required. As is often the case, you can receive alerts to publications to which the library does not have a subscription, or for which we receive access from another source.
Many databases provide email and RSS alerting services to highlight new content as it is added to the database. These kinds of alerts can be more useful than publisher-based alerts when your research topic is covered across multiple journals or is multi-disciplinary. Unlike publisher-based alerts, you will need to make use of Off Campus Sign In to setup and access profiles or accounts at database web sites, and the alerts you receive often provide the proxied version of the link to the article.
Many publishers and databases provide RSS feeds to alert you to new issues or content. To subscribe to feeds, install RSS feed reader software, or use an online source like Google Reader. Look for the RSS icon or a link labeled with rss. Right-click the icon or link and copy the linked address. This address typically ends with
xml, but may not. You will paste or import this address (URL) into your feed reader software to subscribe to the feed. The software will regularly check for updates to the feed and will alert you to any changes.
For instance, a table of contents feed would be updated to entries from the latest issue of a journal whenever that journal is published online. Your feed reader would list the articles from that latest issue, and each entry would link to the article at the publisher's site. (Note that publisher's site may not be where the Virginia Tech Libraries has access to that article.)
While most people set up alerts for articles and journal publications, you may also want to be alerted when new books on a topic are published or added to the Virginia Tech Libraries' collection. If you find a newly published book, you can Suggest an item for purchase or request to borrow it through interlibrary loan.
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