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Library PG Tips

Keeping up-to-date with your topic

Video transcript

Title slide 

This seminar will focus on keeping up to date with your topic. 

What this session will cover

This session will cover:

Setting up search and citation alerts  

Staying up-to-date beyond Sussex Library

Additional support resources for your dissertations


What are search alerts?

Search alerts prompt a chosen database to automatically run a search, and email you any search results added since you last searched the database. 


What can a search alert look for?

It will vary from each database, but in most cases they can look for: 

the table of contents to new issues of journals

a list of new articles based on search terms

citation alerts, to inform you when a particular article has been cited by another


Citation searching 

Citation alerts are like a form of citation searching, where you find  relevant research in a field or subject by looking at what an article has referenced and who has cited it. 


How to create a search alert

Create an account with the database/resource

Set your search criteria:

Strike a balance between specific and broad search terms 

Take into account the context of the database

Remember - search alerts across multiple databases may be needed 

Let’s start with Library Search...


Library Search screen shot

To create a search alert in Library Search, first make sure you are signed-in. 


Library Search screen shot

Build your search criteria, and run your search. When the results load, click on the “save search” text at the top of your search results page. 


Library Search screen shot

A yellow banner will appear at the top of the page notifying you that the search query has been saved to your favourites. You will also have the opportunity to turn on notifications for this query. Click on this text to input your email address, to receive alerts. 

Library Search screen shot

You can view and edit your saved searches and alerts by clicking on your name in the top right hand corner of the page. 

Multidisciplinary databases

•Useful starting points for searching and alerts


•Search a large number of publications (Scopus c23,000 titles, WoS c21,000 titles)

•Mainly articles but coverage of other content is increasing (conference proceedings, patents, book chapters)


A-Z of databases

You will find an A-Z directory of databases and resources on the Online Resources A-Z box on the Library homepage. 

A-Z page

To navigate to a resource, just click on the letter in the tab that corresponds to the first letter of the resource you want to access. For example, J for JStor.

Subject guides

If you are unsure about which resource is suitable or relevant to search for your topic, explore the subject guides found below the A-Z tab. They contain a comprehensive list of resources for each subject area, so you can search in the knowledge that you are not wasting time on a completely irrelevant resource. Each resource is linked and accompanied by a brief description of its coverage.

Scopus navigation video

I’m going to show you how to set-up search alerts in a multidicipinary database. The database I have chosen is Scopus. It’s one of the largest databases that the Library subscribes to. To find the link, I click S in the A-Z tab. In the list I locate the link for scopus. You can see from the description here that Scopus provides access to 22,500 journals, so there’s almost always research of relevance to be found.


Scopus screen shot

Once you are signed-in click on the bell symbol to see what search alert options are available to create.


You can create a search alert, author citation or document citation alert by clicking “set new search alert” 


Set your search criteria, using the options available. 

Run the search. If you are unsure about how to build your search, have a look at our “essential search skills for your dissertation” seminar. 


On the results page click “set alert” - you’re all set! To edit your search alerts, just click on the bell symbol in the top right hand corner. 

Staying up to date beyond Sussex

There are other ways to keep up to date with your topic, beyond search alerts. 


Like Twitter. If you’re not on Twitter already the scale of information and the speed of tweeting can be overwhelming. There are some easy things you can do to start focusing the information you’re getting from Twitter and keep on top of the flow of information. As well as being conscious of people you are following you can develop curated lists for different topics you’re interested in.You can also create lists on particular hashtags, so if there’s a hashtag that’s widely used in your field follow that. Use lists and saved searches to keep on top of it and make sure you only get the content that’s relevant to you. 

Twitter search

Another tip is to use Twitter hashtags to follow conferences on twitter. People tweet links to articles or reports that get mentioned on slides, you could get quick summaries of the key points of a session and there will be a bit of online discussion going on that you can get involved in from a distance. 

Twitter lunchtime session

To learn more about how to search Twitter content, have a look at our “Searching Twitter for your dissertation data” seminar.


Inter-library loan

You are not restricted to the Library’s resources. If you find an article for example that you would like to request full-text access to, the Library may be able to source an electronic copy for you if you place an inter-library loan request. This can be done by clicking on the “Find and request books” link on the Library homepage.


Inter-library loan page

Further clicking “Request item from another library”. Please note, there may be disruption to this service while the Library building remains closed as part of the national measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19. 


Further Support title slide

We are nearing the end of this bite-sized seminar, and we will finish with information about the support services that are available to you. 


Skills Hub

Skills Hub - an online academic skills portal supporting your studies. You’ll find support and guidance on writing, researching, referencing, skills workshops, and how to book 1-2-1 support.


Skills Hub 1-2-1 Support 

You can book a 1-2-1 session with the Library, for help and training with your research skills. These can be requested by clicking on Workshops and Tutorials, and the Research Support 1-2-1 link, which you will find on the left hand side menu. 

To request, simply submit the request form. While the Library building remains closed as part of the national measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19, we are offering 1-2-1 support in online format, either via a Zoom call, or via email. 


Library contact details

If you have any other queries, you can contact the Library either by email, or chat live with a member of staff during the weekdays, with our live chat option. 



Thank you for watching this seminar. Your feedback is very much appreciated, thanks! 


As with all of these academic skills, you will need to apply your own subject knowledge and consider how they best apply to your particular piece of work. With that in mind we will begin by thinking about how setting up an alert might serve you best. As the video explains, you should aim to strike a balance between general and specific keywords when setting an alert for search terms. If your terms are too broad, you will be inundated with alerts; if they are too narrow you may receive none.


Activity 1: Consider your keywords

This is an important first step in setting an alert, and searching more generally. Try searching with some of your keywords in Library Search. If you are getting tens of thousands of results back, you should consider narrowing your search terms.


The essential search skills tutorial from last week will help you to choose appropriate keywords and you can find further guidance on the Skills Hub.


Activity 1.2 Set an alert on Library Search

Following on from the first activity, once you have found suitable search terms, set an alert for them using Library Search.


View the video at 2 minutes to see how this is done.


Activity 2: Setting strategic alerts

Is there a key piece of research that your work draws upon? If so, it may make sense to set an alert so that you are notified when this article is cited in new publications. This will help you to stay up-to-date with the scholarly conversation around this area of research.

Similarly, is there a key academic journal in your field or a particular journal from which you have cited a lot of articles in your literature review? If so, it might be a good idea to set a table of contents alert for this journal (if this journal allows it), so that you will be notified of the new research being published in this journal.


Activity 2.1: Set a journal alert

Identify a key journal in your field and use the ‘Journal title’ filter in Library Search to find this journal. Visit the journal and set a table-of-contents alert.


If you cannot find this function on the journal homepage, look for a ‘help’ section or contact us using library chat to see if we can help. It may be that the journal doesn’t have this function (unfortunately not all do), or it may be that the function is hidden and we can help you to find it.

Ask us Anything - Live Q&A with the Library
Thursday 16 July @ 11 am
hands holding cup of tea



Full details coming soon!