As a researcher, you will want to know about the latest research being published in your field. Ideally, you would like to know about research, even before it's published. If you don't keep abreast with ongoing research, there is the risk that your literature review and bibliography will be incomplete or worse your research will duplicate what others have already achieved.
A good place to start is by making use of tools and networking sources available. For more advice on keeping up-to-date take a look at our Library guide on Tools for Managing and Sharing Information.
Alerting services enable you to find out about the latest research in your field soon after it's published. They can provide lists of new journal articles etc. targeted to your research topic, via either regular e-mails or an RSS feed to a web page. Sign up for training via LibSmart.
To create an RSS feed using RefWorks, see the RefWorks: collecting references page. If you create an e-mail alert, you will receive regular e-mails containing new references. Procedures vary by database or database platform, but you always need to register with the database first:
- Ebscohost databases: Academic Search Complete, Business Source Premier, CINAHL Plus, GreenFile, Historical Abs, LISTA, MLA, PsycInfo and SportDiscus
- IEEE/IET Electronic Library
- Institute of Physics
- OvidSP databases: AMED and Medline
- ProQuest databases:ABI Inform, British Periodicals, DAAI, Education databases (AUEI, BEI and ERIC), IBSS, IIMP, IIPA and PapersInvited
- Web of Knowledge databases: Web of Science
Academic Search Complete, Business Source Premier, CINAHL Plus, GreenFile, Historical Abs, LISTA, MLA, PsycInfo and SportDiscus
- Open one (or more) of the Ebscohost databases and login to Ebscohost (or register if you have not already done so).
- Perform a search, then go to Alert/Save/Share above the results.
- Go to E-mail Alert and enter your email address and frequency of alert, e.g. once a month.
- Save Alert. You should receive e-mail confirmation that your alert has been successfully created.
- You can view your existing Ebscohost alerts under Search History and Retrieve Alerts.
- Open Emerald and login, near the top left corner of the screen (or register if you have not already done so)
- Perform a search, then Add Saved Search Alert, above the results.
- Name the alert and adjust the number of results required (if necessary) then choose Add.
IEEE/IET Electronic Library
- Open IEEE/IET Electronic Library (IEEE Xplore).
- Sign in or Register if you have not already done so.
- Sign in to IEEE/IET Electronic Library.
- Perform a search. Above the results, go to Set Search Alert.
- Name your search and Save.
- To view your existing IEEE alerts, go to My Settings - Saved Searches.
Institute of Physics
- Open Institute of Physics.
- Login near the top left corner of the screen or Create Account if you have not already done so.
- Perform a search then Add to my Alerts.
- To view your existing IOP alerts, go to Search Alerts.
AMED and Medline
- Open one (or more) of the OvidSP databases.
- Go to My Account, near the top of the screen.
- Login to OvidSP (or create a new personal account, if you have not already done so).
- Go to Search and enter your criteria.
- Below Actions, go to More - Auto Alert.
- Name your search, select the scheduling for your alerts - e.g. monthly then Save.
- To view your existing OvidSP alerts, go to View Saved.
ABI Inform, British Periodicals, DAAI, Education databases (AUEI, BEI and ERIC), IBSS, IIMP, IIPA and PapersInvited
- Open one (or more) of the ProQuest databases.
- Sign in near the top right corner of the screen and login to ProQuest (or Create a My Research Account, if you have not already done so).
- Perform a search and then Create alert.
- Name your search and choose the scheduling and duration for your alerts, e.g. one year.
- You should receive an e-mail confirmation that your alert has been successfully created.
- You can view your existing ProQuest alerts under My Research - Alerts.
- Open Sage and sign in (or register if you have not already done so).
- Perform a search, then choose Save as Alert from the column on the right hand side.
- To view your existing Sage alerts, go to View current email alerts.
- Open Scopus and login near the top right corner of the screen (or register if you have not already done so).
- Perform a search then choose Set Alert above the results.
- Select the frequency, e.g. monthly and choose Create.
- To view your existing Scopus alerts, go to My Alerts.
Web of Knowledge databases:
Web of Science
- Open Web of Science and sign in (or register if you have not already done so).
- Perform a search and go to Search History.
- Choose Save History/Create Alert and enter a search name in the History Name box.
- Check the “Send me e-mail alerts” box and select the frequency, e.g. monthly, and Save.
- To view your existing alerts, go to My Saved Searches
Conference papers can provide useful insights about ongoing research in your field before it’s published.
Academic conferences are events, perhaps continuing for two or three days, where people present news about their recent research and findings. Many conferences are held annually, sometimes at a different location each year. The conference organisers often collect the presented papers and publish them as the conference proceedings. Calls for papers alert you to forthcoming conferences, where you might want to present a poster or paper yourself.
You can search for conference papers in both indexing/abstracting databases and full text collections. However, increasingly, many conference papers are circulated freely online in open access archives or conference websites, and can be found using search engines.
Indexes to conference papers
Many subject orientated abstracting databases include conference papers within their coverage, e.g. ERIC, Historical Abstracts and PsycInfo. There are also two databases, which provide a multidisciplinary coverage: Web of Science and ZETOC.
Web of Science indexes conference papers across STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and medicine) and the social sciences from 1990 onwards. Each conference paper is accompanied by an abstract. You can access Web of Science through the Web of Knowledge portal.
ZETOC includes table of contents access to around 16,000 new conference proceedings per year, as they are received by the British Library. It also indexes approximately 20,000 current journals. ZETOC covers all subjects, from 1993 onwards. One of the ZETOC’s strengths is its alerting service, which you can use to keep up-to-date with relevant new articles and conference papers.
Full text conference papers
Three of the Library's databases offer access to full text conference papers:
ACM Digital Library
IEEE/IET Electronic Library
Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) Proceedings
The Library also holds various conference proceedings in print. Some of these are shelved with journals (if there is a sequence of proceedings over several years) and some are shelved with books (if the proceedings are only available for one year). To find whether the Library holds the proceedings of a particular conference in print, you should check the catalogue.
Academic staff, who have been research active for a long time, usually have well developed contacts with other researchers in the same field. The term "invisible college" is sometimes used to describe their well honed networks. Contacts are useful for exchanging ideas and learning about research news, before it is published in journals.
If you are relatively new to research, how can you start making these contacts? One way is to identify calls for papers at forthcoming conferences, and then present a poster or paper at one of these conferences. Other options are joining an academic network or mailing list. For effective teaching practices there is the "Higher Education Academy" website to consult.
Calls for papers
Calls for papers alert you to forthcoming conferences and special events, where you might to able to present a poster or paper. Presenting a poster or paper will potentially offer you opportunities to:
- Disseminate your research to people who are keen to know about it
- Network with people researching the same or similar topics
- Receive feedback and suggestions about your research
- Discuss collaborative ventures with people at other institutions
AllConferences.com offers a searchable directory of current conferences.
The Conference Alerts website offers information about current conferences and a monthly conference alerting service.
The ResearchGate website enables networking amongst researchers, and also provides information about current conferences. For more information about ResearchGate, please see the section below.
Academic networking websites
Graduate Junction was designed to help Masters and PhD students make contact with persons sharing similar research interests, across disciplines. It was set up by two postgraduates at Durham University in 2008. After registering, you can search for fellow postgraduates by keyword, institution, department, supervisor or name, and communicate with them. You can also join research groups, and access the postgraduate jobs information. Graduate Junction claims to have approaching 20,000 postgraduates registered.
ResearchGate enables networking amongst researchers. Registration involves setting up a personal profie giving details of your education, experience, research interests and publications, which can then be viewed by other members. As well as enabling networking, ResearchGate also provides information about: conferences, jobs and publications. Consulting this information doesn't require registration. ResearchGate claims to have over a million members.
Sometimes it's easy to feel that you are the only person struggling with a particular problem. One way to feel less isolated is to join an academic e-mailing list, and share your experiences and problems with fellow students and researchers. When you join a list, it's always a good idea to read a few messages, before posting anything yourself. That way you get a feel for the list and are able to see if the list is right for you.
You will find a selection of academic mailing lists at JISCmail, the national academic mail listing service.
The Higher Education Academy promotes effective teaching practices across a wide range of disciplines. Subject centres, based in different UK universities, provide discipline related information about: lecturer resources, learning materials, events, awards & funding etc.