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Research Alerts

What are Alerts?

Having trouble juggling information and keeping up-to-date? Alerts can help!

Alerts refer to notifications when something of interest to you has been published or added to a database or website. These can be on specific topics or from specific journals.

How to get alerts:

  • Email notifications require you to register your email address and preferences. Any email address will work, it does not need to be your official university email address.
  • Saved search or subject alerts do not save the records you were looking at in your search; they save only the topic so it can be easily re-run to look for newer articles.
  • Table of contents alerts are automatic notifications when a new issue of a specific journal has been published.
  • Citation alerts are less common.  They are notifications when someone cites a specific journal article.
  • Web page alerts are notifications when a specific web page has been updated. 
  • RSS feedsblogsTwitter and/or Facebook are alternatives to traditional alerts.

Contact a Subject Librarian for more information and assistance setting up alerts.

Types of Alerts

Database Alerts  Database alerts can cover thousands of journals while publisher alerts are usually limited to a significantly fewer number of journals. 

Publisher Alerts Publisher alerts are usually faster than database alerts!  Publisher websites are the first place information is made available.   

Other Alerts  Depending on the resource, news updates are usually available via RSS feed, blog, email alerts, twitter, and/or Facebook.  Almost all major newspapers and television networks offer news updates.  Locate their website and look for information on alerts or RSS.

RSS feeds  allow you to keep up-to-date on your favorite websites or journals by subscribing to their feeds. New information added to those sites can be easily browsed by visiting a single web page, called a news reader. 

Quick Guide

2 ways to locate other database or journal alert services:

  1. From a database
    • Log into a database/journal through UT access
    • Click a HELP or INFO button
    • Look for saved search or alert services to find instructions
    • Note: Keep in mind that these services are not available for all databases.
  2. From a publisher
    • Select a journal and find the publisher name
    • Go to the publisher's homepage (search Google if no link is provided by the journal)
    • Look for a link labeled Journals or Electronic Journals.
    • Then look for Alerts or My Account
    • Follow directions for setting up these services with that particular publisher.
    • Note: Most publishers will provide alerts free to anyone, even if the library does not have a subscription to the journal, but it usually requires a registration process because they will need to have your email address and preferences on file.


Thank you to Lorrie Pellack, librarian at Iowa State University, for much of the information in this guide. For more help with alerts see ISU's Alert Services guide.