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Library Researcher Series: Keeping Current with the Scholarly Literature - Winter 2018

A drop-in workshop series offered by the University Library in Fall and Winter terms.

Session Description: Keeping Current with the Scholarly Literature

Are you feeling overwhelmed with the amount of literature published in your field? Afraid you’ll miss an important paper? Come to this session to learn strategies for keeping up-to-date with scholarly literature: from email alerting services to RSS feeds.

Most recent session offered: Mar 28, 2018, 11:30am-12:30pm, Rm 102 Murray Library


"Current Awareness Services" help you keep up-to-date on the scholarly literature in your field.

Examples include:

  • search/topic alerts
  • author alerts
  • citation alerts (of an author or a paper)
  • table of contents (ToC) alerts

There are two main ways to set up these alerts:

1. RSS feeds: This involves setting up a "feed reader" and visiting it to read the updates - a good option if you want to reduce the volume of emails you receive, but you must remember to visit the feed reader regularly. You can also get rss feeds sent to your email.

2. Email alerting services: Involves an automatically generated email sent to you when new content is available. A good option if you really don't want to miss something!

Other Suggestions:

  • I find Twitter to be my most effective way to keep up-to-date in quickly developing, current topics. Follow the Twitter accounts of people or organizations who may be tweeting about the topic of interest. If you have several topics of interest then use TweetDeck as a way to organize these topics into streams.
  • Join a scholarly or professional society related to your topic of interest. And sign-up for any email discussion lists that they may provide. This is a great way to learn about research underway, white papers or reports. All of these types of information likely won't appear in your database search alerts.

Setting up Alerts/Feeds from Database Searches

Many article databases will allow you to create alerts on your searches. Usually this involves creating an account with the database so that you can save the search parameters and choose your alerting preferences. Follow these general steps to set up a search alert in a database:

1. Navigate to your favourite database through the library website

2. Register for a personal account within that database

3. Perform your search

4. Look for a link on the results page that says something like "Set alert", "Set feed", "Keep me posted", "Create alert", etc (NOTE: this might also be on a "Search History" page)

All About RSS Feeds

RSS = "Rich Site Summary" or "Really Simple Syndication", is a web feed format used to publish frequently updated works (such as news items, blog entries, etc) in a standardized format.

RSS Feeds are tools for gathering, reading, and sharing all of the latest updates on the blogs and websites you read on a regular basis. Instead of constantly revisiting all of the same sites to check for updates, you can have all of these updates forwarded to one place: your "Feed Reader".

Two ways to get feeds into your feed reader:

1. Look for one of these symbols - these indicate that there is a "feed" available to subscribe to: just click on the symbol and directions on how to subscribe will follow. Alternately you can copy the url on the page and enter it into your feed reader manually. 

2. Search or browse for the content you want from within your feed reader. Usually there is some kind of "add content" page in each feed reader that will facilitate this.

All of the feeds that you subscribe to will be collected in your feed reader, or you can receive the feeds in your email account too. There are many feed reader options out there, I have listed a few of the well-known (and free!) options below or you can do a quick Google search on "feed readers" for more recommendations. 

RSS Feed Readers:

  1. Feedly
  2. TheOldReader
  3. G2Reader
  4. NewsBlur

Personal Dashboards:

More than just a feed-reader! 

  1. NetVibes
  2. MyYahoo


Most online journals and databases that are subscribed to by the University Library require authentication to access (NSID & password through the library website). If you are using a desktop on campus the UofS IP range provides seamless authentication.

However, if some of the alerts and feeds you subscribe to are for subscription journal content you may not have direct access to the articles from off-campus or from your on-campus laptop (through the links provided in the alert/feed).

There are two ways around this (assuming that the library has a current online subscription to the article you need!):

1. Try the UofS Proxy Bookmarklet!

To connect to any website that we subscribe to through the USask proxy, install the USask proxy bookmarklet in your browser for quick access.

For most browsers, click, drag and drop the blue button below to your bookmarks bar.

Bookmarks/Favourites bar instructions for:

That's it! Now, when you hit a paywall while researching online simply click on the USask Proxy link in your bookmarks bar and the page will automatically reload to give you access to the full-text version as long as the library subscribes to it. You will be prompted to login with your NSID and password if you are not already logged in. 

Below is a video tutorial of setting up the Proxy Bookmarklet:

How to use the USask Proxy Bookmarklet


2. When you click through the link provided in your alert, and arrive at the publisher's website version of the article...

Manually insert the UofS proxy string into the article URL: If your feed directs you to an article, insert this into the article URL: (follow example below) right after the publisher's address, then you will be prompted to authenticate with NSID & password.

Example:       Article-level URL:


                         Edit URL to look like this:


NOTE: If all else fails, you can copy and paste the journal details in the University Library catalogue and navigate to the article in the usual way.

Creating Search/Topic Alerts in Web of Science

Creating Citation Alerts in Web of Science