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Keeping up to date in your topic area: Databases

Using databases

people sitting down near table with assorted laptop computers

Search alerts within databases can be set up to provide automatic notification when new results are available. Instead of having to constantly re-enter the exact search terms into a database each time, setting up an alert is an easy and effective way of gathering information on your subject.

To use the alerting facilities on most databases you will need to create a personal account once logged in.

Aberystwyth University subscribe to a range of databases. some cover all subject areas (such as Web of Science, Scopus), some cover particular types of publication (for instance, Index to theses), and some cover specific subject areas (such as English Poetry via ProQuest).

You will need to establish which are the most appropriate databases to search - see your subject guide for guidance.

Types of alerts


Database alerts

  • You can set up database search alerts to notify you by email when new results relating to your search are added to the database. Many databases, including Web of Science and Science Direct, provide this option. You will usually need to register with a database in order to save your search.


Citation alerts

  • These type of alerts are a good way of keeping track of articles in your topic area by building on resources you have already identified as being useful. If an article, which cites your selected article or author, is added to the database you will be alerted. Citation databases, such as Scopus and Web of Science, offer the option of citation alerts.


See the next tabs in this box for details of how to do this on the most popular databases.

Web of Science 

Web of Science (WoS) contains records of journal articles over the complete range of science, social science and the arts. It focuses on the most important journal titles in each subject. It is good for building up a detailed subject search strategy and then setting up a regular alert (weekly or monthly) notifying you of new papers added to the database retrieved by the strategy you have created.

Please note that in order to set up alerts in Web of Science, you first need to set up your own individual WoS username and password using the Register button.

The Web of Science platform gives access to several databases including the Web of Science Core Collection (citation indexes covering all subjects and conference proceedings), Medline (biomedical sciences) and BIOSIS Previews (biological abstracts).

You can search one or all of these databases and save your searches to re-run against the latest updates to the databases.

You can also set up citation alerts (so that you are notified when someone cites your key articles). 

SiSAL Journal accepted for inclusion in Scopus | SiSAL Journal

Scopus is a large bibliographic database covering all subjects which includes selected conference proceedings and over 34,000 journals.

Scopus allows you to set up alerts for particular authors, documents so that you are notified when someone cites a particular article, or searches.

Searches can be for a range of criteria including keywords, journal title, and an author’s affiliation.

Zetoc: Homepage

To keep up-to-date on new content in your favourite journals, you can set up an alert on Zetoc Alerts.

Zetoc are one of the world’s most comprehensive research databases, giving you access to over 39,500 journals and more than 65.5 million article citations and conference papers through the British Library’s electronic table of contents and over 875,000 OA article citations and conference papers from PubMed.

Follow the procedure given in the British Library's Zetoc Alerts guide.

If you follow the Zetoc Alerts guide, the process of selecting the individual journal titles to be included in your alert appears as follows: 

JournalTOCs is the largest, free collection of scholarly journals Tables of Contents (TOCs).


Multi disciplinary archive of academic journals, books and pamphlets.

Searching Google Scholar for Field-Specific Terms | AJE

Google Scholar can be a useful tool. Google Scholar is a Web search engine that specifically searches scholarly literature and academic resources. It searches the same kinds of scholarly books, articles, and documents that you search in the Library's catalogue and databases. The scholarly, authoritative focus of Google Scholar distinguishes it from ordinary Google.

There is overlap between the content in Google Scholar and the Library's individual databases. In addition, many citations in Google Scholar will link to full text in the Library's databases or in publicly available databases.

Searching is as easy as searching in regular Google.

Like regular Google, Google Scholar returns the most relevant results first, based on an item's full text, author, source, and the number of times it has been cited in other sources. Some actions are a little different from regular Google: clicking on a title may only take you to a citation or description, rather than to the full document itself. Google Scholar will not necessarily get you to the full text of every search result.

To find the full document, look for:

  1. a PDF or HTML link to the right of the article title or
  2. a FullText@Aber link


In addition, Google Scholar’s Citations facility specifically enables you to track citations to your own papers within the Google Scholar network. To access the Google Scholar Citation facility, login to Google Scholar with your own Google username and password at: and follow the instructions given. 

Please note that the Google Scholar database is not limited to coverage of peer-reviewed papers and can include magazine articles, websites, blogs and reports

Further information on full-text linking @Aber and Google Scholar.

Google Alerts

You can monitor the web for new content by using Google Alerts to get email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your choice of query or topic.