I would like to keep up to date with public literature in my research field. All relevant publications are of too big a volume to follow and so the problem invites some automatic mechanism of filtering and notification.

Do you know of any good mechanism (desktop\online application etc.) that could be configured to alert on new publications according to specific criteria?

Three criteria that I would think would be very useful in such a mechanism are :

  • Follow by researcher name - I would like to know of any new publication Prof. X was involved with.
  • Configurable citation filter - I would like to know of any new publication which cites any of Prof. X papers or a specific one.
  • And\Or\Not keywords - I would like to know of any new publication that has both keywords A and (B or C).

Do you know of such existing app? Any recommendation to such (or similar) applied functionality would be greatly appreciated.



Your institution (for example its Harman Science Library) and many others have the database product Web of Knowledge. Precisely the alert criteria that you described, and more, are available through that product.

The selection of journals covered in its flagship collection, Web of Science, is curated with the goal to cover all of, and more than, the core literature of all scholarly fields, naturally without attempting to cover all journals in existence. Alerts in Web of Knowledge can also simultaneously search up to a dozen other collections including Medline, depending on your institution's subscription. You can see the collections in the subscription that is available to you by choosing the "Select a Database" tab. You can browse and search the journal lists for the various collections.

  • Yiha! Seems like exactly what I have searched for. I should really meet more with our librarian :) Thanks! – Ohad Dan Nov 11 '13 at 20:57

If you are in life sciences, I suggest two methods.

  1. PubMed updates: PubMed is the database that contains the abstracts of all life sciences publications. If you register (free), you can have query updates sent to your mail regularly. The way this works is that you run a database query once (these queries can be quite advanced), and then all new results to this query are compiled and sent to you. This is a good method if you want to keep up with every publication in a relatively field.
  2. F1000: The Faculty of 1000 is a group of ~5000 scientists that regularly read papers and rank papers of special interest along with a short explanation. If you register (not free unless your institute has this service), you can also receive weekly updates according to specified sub-fields of interest. This is a good method for keeping up with interesting publications in a wide field (where the PubMed search would just give too many results).
  • I actually use PubMed quite a lot, but didn't know of the re-query feature, which would be very very useful :) I was also not aware of the F1000 project which would be good to broaden scientific horizons, which I would also consider very important. Thanks! – Ohad Dan Nov 11 '13 at 21:03

Google Scholar alerts are certainly one (slightly crude) solution. But there are other databases out there that allow much better controlled searching and which do email alerts. My university gives me access to a university-branded version of EBSCO Discovery, but others do exist - some generalist and some especially suited to particular fields.

Assuming that you are affiliated with a university or similar, I recommend asking your university library what they recommend.

Alternatively, sites such as ScienceDirect allow you to set up similar alerts, but they only apply to journals that are published on those sites (so with the example of ScienceDirect, you would only be told about articles in Elsevier journals). Depending on the publications that are relevant to you it might be possible to set up similar alerts on a few different publishers' sites to get good coverage.

  • EBSCO's GUI seem very friendly. I will definitely check it out. Thanks! – Ohad Dan Nov 11 '13 at 21:07

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.