Once you've carried our your initial searches, you'll need to develop techniques for keeping up to date with new publications and research in your subject area.
Click on the tabs to discover some great techniques for making our online resources do the work for you and deliver customised updates to your desktop.
Most of our databases offer search alert options. These enable you to store searches and set them up to be run again at regular intervals. Any new records which match your search will be delivered to you, usually by email or newsfeed. Options and instructions vary from database to database, and in some cases you might have to set up a separate profile, but it is well worth the effort.
Some of the major databases which enable alerts include:
Many journals enable you to set up alerts too, so you'll automatically receive the table of contents when a new issue is published. Just find the journal home page and look for an alert or table of contents option. Or try ZETOC, which enables you to set up alerts for thousands of journals and conference papers, or JournalTOCS.
RSS (Really Simple Syndication) helps you keep up to date with changes to your favourite online resources, whether it's a journal, blog, podcast or web page. You can subscribe to feeds whenever you see the orange RSS symbol. It means you don't have to keep checking back to see if sites have been updated, as you can view all your favourite feeds in one glance.
Want to know more? The BBC has a simple guide, or watch the short video below.
Most researchers are used to looking through bibliographies of books and articles to see which references the author(s) has consulted for their research. However, that takes you backwards in time. Did you know you can also bring your search forwards in time with citation searching? In other words, finding out which papers or books have cited the work of interest to you since it was published.
You can do this in various ways:
You can also set up citation alerts to find out when new papers cite an article of interest to you.
Science, technology and medical subjects use citations much more extensively than arts subjects, particularly in measuring the impact of publications. For more detail, please see our separate research impact guide.
Traditional scholarly communication can be very slow moving, so researchers are increasingly using social media resources to discover and disseminate their research.
Tools such as Twitter and blogs offer fast, flexible and free ways of finding out about the latest research, and making connections with other researchers. We've highlighted the most useful social media tools for researchers on our separate guide.
Bibliographic databases give you a global overview of the literature in a subject area. They provide an index to journal articles and conference papers from a wide range of publishers – many databases provide an abstract of a paper but NOT the full-text.
Electronic Journals give the full-text of journal articles online, so are handy for a quick search. They're easy to use and deliver instant information. However, they aren’t as comprehensive as bibliographic databases, so you should always use bibliographic databases if you need to carry out a thorough literature search.
Library Search enables you to explore our high quality resources, such as books and DVDs from the library catalogue, as well as journal articles from many of our databases.
"Sounds good! So why should I still bother searching specialist databases such as Compendex, Scopus and Web of Knowledge if Library Search can find everything?"
You're likely to benefit from more advanced search options, and get more precise search results, if you use specialist databases. For example, you'll often get more sophisticated options for narrowing down your search, setting up alerts and choosing search terms using a built-in thesaurus.
Specialist databases usually just focus on particular subject areas (e.g.engineering), whereas Library Search covers all topics. Therefore, searching specialist databases should give you more focused and relevant results.
Library Search doesn't index everything. In particular, specialist materials such as historic newspapers and archives aren't covered. Not sure what's included in Library Search? Full list here.
So.... Library Search is great for finding books, DVDs and certain other resources, and is a helpful starting point for a wider search of journal articles. However, for a more precise and relevant search, please explore our specialist subject databases as well.
Try Google Scholar for finding scholarly literature on the internet. Google Scholar is particularly good at finding Open Access (freely accessible) scholarly information but a great deal of important literature is still only available through the databases and electronic journals to which the Library subscribes. You should, therefore, use Google Scholar in addition to (and not instead of) our databases and electronic journals.