Alerting services assist researchers in keeping up-to-date with current literature in a discipline.
There are four(4) types of Search Alerts;
Saved Search Alerts
A Saved Search Alert is an actual search which you have saved in a specific database, for example, ScienceDirect.
Your saved search is run against new articles added to the database on a scheduled cycle which can vary from daily, weekly, fortnightly to monthly. Results, i.e. "hits" are returned to you via a nominated email address. The actual results sent back can vary from database to database, however, in general the standard details are, full citation data, abstract and (where applicable) the URL to the full text.
Searches can be saved for a period of up to 12 months or more, depending on the database. Your Saved Searches can be edited, amended or deleted at any time you choose.
Different databases provide different limits as to the maximum number of Saved Searches available to you.
You must have a Personal Account in each database where you have Saved Search Alerts.
TOC (Table of Contents) Alerts
TOC, i.e. Table of Contents Alerts, are Journal Title specific.
That is, you select a specific Journal title (or titles) and when a new Issue of this Journal is added to the database the article contents for that Issue are emailed to you.
You must have a Personal Account in each database where you have TOC Alerts.
A Citation Alert can be set up for either an individual Author (or Authors) or a specific Journal article.
When the Author is cited in the Bibliography or Reference List of another article, as subsequently added to the same database, you are emailed the details of the Citing Article.
A Citation Alert for a specific Journal article works in the same way. When the primary article is cited in the Bibliography or Reference List of another article, as subsequently added to the same database, you are emailed the details of the Citing Article.
You must have a Personal Account in each database where you have Citation Alerts.
Many Databases now offer Alerts by means of an RSS feed.
RSS, "Really Simple Syndication" or "Rich Site Summary" is an XML-based format for the immediate syndication (i.e. distribution) of frequently published and updated digital content, such as blogs, news and journal alerts.
You need to have an RSS reader or aggregator to make use of RSS. Using an RSS Reader you can subscribe to numerous feeds and read all new entries from these in a single place. You will automatically receive the most current information whenever the source is updated.
A variety of RSS Readers are available. Some examples are,
For more information on RSS Feeds watch this YouTube video "RSS in Plain English"