Module Five - Staying current with business research

Staying current

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As a researcher it is important to stay current with new literature and research published in your subject areas.

Alerting services are available from databases, publisher’s web pages and other online tools.

This guide focuses on services which offer alerts in the Business area, but many of the resources listed are useful to other subject areas.

For some suggestions on how to keep current but avoid information overload check out this blog post 


Table of contents alerts

Table of contents alerts are automatic notifications when a new issue of a specific journal is published.

  • JournalTOCs - Journal Table of Contents Service
    After registering for this free service you can follow and receive email alerts for up to 30 journals. 

Library databases offering email alerts to tables of contents include:

Publishers offering alerting services (tables of contents and topic)

To find out where a journal is indexed or who publishes it you can search the journal title or ISSN on Ulrich's Periodicals Directory

Many journals offer alerts directly – search for the journal homepage to check whether this service is offered.

Topic alerts

A search alert notifies you by email when new articles about a specific topic become available on a database

How to Set up an Alert

You will often have to create a (free) account in a library database.

  • Look for a link on the database home page which says “My Account" or "My Research" or similar and register.  

  • Carry out some sample searches.  Once you are happy with the search strategy save it and create an email alert.  Look for phrases such as “Save search”, “Set alert”, “Email alert”, “Alert me” or “Create alert” in the database interface.

  • Give your search a name and choose the frequency (of alerts) and the format of the references.

When new articles that correspond to your search query are added to the database, an email alert message will be sent to you with direct links to the articles.  You can go back and edit your alert at any time if you are getting too many or too few results.

Similarly you can set up an alert on Google Scholar for articles on an academic topic or on Google itself to monitor current news on, for example, a company or product.  Enter the topic you wish to monitor, then click preview to see the type of results you'll receive.

Citation alerts

A citation alert will notify you of new citations to existing articles or authors. To set up citation alerts, find the article or author in a database or publisher website and follow on-screen instruction to set up the email alert. When any new articles cite this author or article in their references, you will be sent an email alert with details of the citing article.

This can be particularly useful if there is an influential article which later researchers and writers in the same field are likely to be citing.

(NB: If you are an academic citation alerts will help you keep current with who is citing your work which is useful if you are tracking your impact.  Researchers or PhD students can add this kind of detail to Research Outputs under 'My Professional Activities.')

Library databases offering citation alerts

Publishers offering citation alerting services

Social media

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Twitter is increasingly important as a source of information and contact with a community of researchers. Topical information can come from recommendations from researchers who share your interests.


Blogs are a useful way of keeping track of a scholar or publisher. Many researchers maintain a regular blog which can be monitored via an RSS feed or their Twitter feed.

Altmetric explorer

The Library subscribers to Altmetric explorer  which enables the monitoring of online activity surrounding academic research. You can set up an alert for new mentions of an article or track mentions to articles by specific researchers.

Read more about Social Media for Researchers on our library guide. 

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  • OECD iLibrary - register with the database to receive personalised e-mails announcing new publications, statistics updates and free newsletters related to your topics of interest. 

  • Passport  - this market research database allows users to register for weekly or monthly email alerts to new content, including industry reports and statistical updates.
A database is a collection of information in electronic format. Each item (journal article, report etc.) has a record that stores pieces of information about the item in fields i.e. author, title, subject, date, etc.
The details needed to be able to locate the original publication.
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