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Keeping up to date: an online guide

Guidance on online services and tools for keeping up to date on topics

Keeping up to date in your subject area can appear daunting in our information intensive digital environment.

A range of online services and tools are available to help you find and manage new content in areas of interest to you, saving you time and keeping you up to date with the latest research.

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Alerting Services

RSS (Really Simple Syndication): instead of having to check for updates on your favourite websites, blogs and news sites, you can use RSS technology so that content is sent to you - a great time saver!


Getting started

  • Get an RSS Feed Reader (Feedly and FeedReader are two examples; Google 'RSS feed reader' to look at others)
  • To add feeds, copy and paste the URL associated with the orange buttoninto your feed reader. 



You can use your email instead of a feed reader. Here are instructions for Outlook

Many book publishers provide an alerting service and will email details of new books in your subject area. 

Typically, you will need to register for this service on the publisher's website.

These alerts will send you the contents tables of journal issues as they are published.

You can register for this service on journal publisher's websites. You can also use JournalTOCs, a free collection of international scholarly journal contents, or Zetoc, which is free to UK Universities.   

Zetoc is one of the world's most comprehensive research databases, giving you access to over 29,000 journals and more than 52 million article citations and conference papers through the British Library's electronic table of contents.

  • stay up to date with new research and expand your field of knowledge.
  • set up personalised email Zetoc Alerts or RSS feeds to track the latest articles or journal titles related to your interests.
  • In some cases, you can also access abstracts of the full text of articles, depending on University of Exeter subscriptions. 


Zetoc Search 

Look for citations of journal articles and conference proceedings via search forms, using one or more words in various fields, such as title, author and date.





Zetoc Alert is a current awareness service that sends email Alerts matching your search criteria whenever relevant new data is loaded into the database.

Alerts may include journal titles, authors' names and keywords from the titles of articles and papers. 






Zetoc RSS 

Set up feeds for individual journals.

Zetoc provide a list of journals with an RSS link beside each journal (where this is available). You can subscribe to the feed in various ways, depending upon your chosen RSS reader.




For more information

Use the Zetoc Screencast Video Series to familiarise yourself with the service. Login to Zetoc and use the workbook to practise using the service. Set up some alerts for journals or authors in your research area.

Many databases enable you to save searches, which can be rerun periodically in order to capture new results. Some can be set up to do this automatically.

Content which matches your search is then fed to you by email or RSS feed. Some services can also alert you when an article or author you are interested in is cited in other publications.

Web of Science, Scopus and ScienceDirect all provide this citation alert option.


Set up a Proquest alert to be notified of new publications.


Use conference alerts for details of papers presented at conferences, which can be a vital flag of new research findings.

Conference Alerts is a free service which will notify you of conferences worldwide which match your interests.

Many free services are available to monitor particular web pages and notify you when content is added or changed, e.g. and WatchThatPage, or to pull together updated content across the web on an area or person of interest, e.g. Google Alerts.

Set up a Google Scholar alert

Beware Google Scholar Alerts search for new material that has been added to the Google Scholar database, not necessarily newly published material.

Other tools

Social media platforms facilitate the exchange of information between individuals, and are useful for highlighting and discussing current issues and developments.

New services are constantly appearing but some of the major current examples are noted below. The Research Information Network provides a social media guide for researchers with a more in depth list of available options.

Also see the Getting Yourself Known guide for more information.


General networks: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Yammer

Academic networks:, ResearchGate, MethodSpace

You can use the online tools to collate and share bookmarks and research papers with others - a useful way to see what other researchers are using.

Tools include: CiteULike, Mendeley, Zotero and

Mailing lists are used by individuals and groups to discuss common interests.


JISCMail hosts thousands of lists for the UK Education and Research communities.

Individuals can participate via email or web browser, and some lists are available for RSS feeds.

Individuals can join and leave lists at any time and can also browse and search list archives to identify relevant content. 

Blogs are a popular method of disseminating timely information and facilitating discussion. 

Many blogs allow you to use RSS feeds so that new content is automatically delivered to you.

You can set up your own blog using software such as TypePad or WordPress.

The University offers support for postgraduates and staff who wish to use blogs and wikis to aid their research.

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