Durham University

University Library

Keeping up to date with emerging research

It is a frightening reality that a literature review is often out of date as soon you have started it. During the course of your research you will need to ensure that you keep up to date with the most current publications and news in your field. It is therefore important to keep abreast of new developments and the following ways will help reduce the time this can take.

This page highlights both sources, and means, for you to keep up to date with a wealth of information just beyond your fingertips.

Journal Table of Contents (ToC) services

A Table of Contents service allows you to schedule the delivery of the Table of Content, or ToC, of the most recent issue of a journal (or journals) to you, usually via email or via an RSS feed. Due to the scope of these services, you may find useful articles in journals which the library does not subscribe to. If this is the case, you will need to use the Document Delivery Service.


ZETOC alerts

ZETOC provides electronic ToCs from the British Library.The database contains details of approximately 20,000 current journals and 16,000 conference proceedings published per year. With almost 15 million article and conference records, the database covers every imaginable subject. The database covers the years from 1993 to date and is updated regularly.

  • Access ZETOC from the Library catalogue.
  • ZETOC has two major functions, the first is as a searchable database for articles and conference proceedings. To use this option you would select ZETOC Search, but for the purpose of setting up an alert select ZETOC alerts.
  • Enter your email address and a name for your alert. You can return to this and edit the terms within this alert at any time.
  • Select Enter your email address and enter a name for your alert.
  • Select Create, and scroll down to the bottom of the next screen.
  • There is an option to Add journals of interest to you – when a new issue is published you will receive an email listing the table of contents.
  • Search or browse for journal titles and add them to your list.

The ZETOC FAQ link at the bottom of the page takes you to full instructions for setting up alerts.



JournalTOCs creates ToC alerts by RSS feed. It contains over 29,242 journals (including over 11,700 open access journals) directly collected from over 2700 publishers.

  • Go directly to JournalTOCs from your internet browser (it is not listed on the catalogue).
  • Browse (by subject or publisher) OR Search for journals by title/ISSN and articles by keyword.
  • Click on the journal title to see the ToC.
  • Click on the rss feed logo to subscribe to the ToC alert for the journal - you can add it to your desktop or copy and paste the feed into a feed reader.
  • You can unsubscribe to any feeds directly from within your feed reader.

New books

The options below highlight some alerting services to new acquisitions made by Durham University Library, from each department's budget allocations.

For further guidance on how to use RSS feeds, see our section on RSS feeds

New items in the Library collection

Below, you can view or subscribe to an RSS feed of purchase made from each department's allocation from the library budget. For help using RSS feeds and RSS feed readers, see the relevant section of this web page.

New items for all subjects in one feed
New items for Anthropology
New items for Modern Languages — Arabic
New items for Archaeology
New items for Applied Social Sciences
New items for Biological & Biomedical Sciences
New items for Biomedical Sciences (Queen's Campus)
New items for Business School
New items for Business School (Queen's Campus)
New items for Applied Social Sciences — Combined Honours in Social Sciences
New items for Chemistry
New items for Classics & Ancient History
New items for Computer Science
New items for Computer Science (Queen's Campus)
New items for Combined Studies in Art
New items for Applied Social Sciences — CYWS
New items for East Asian Studies
New items for Economics & Finance
New items for Economics & Finance (Queen's Campus)
New items for Education
New items for Education (Queen's Campus)
New items for Engineering
New items for English Studies
New items for European Studies (Queen's Campus)
New items for Foundation Programme
New items for Modern Languages — French
New items for Geography
New items for Earth Sciences
New items for New items for Modern Languages — German
New items for Government & International Affairs / IMEIS
New items for School for Health
New items for History
New items for Human Sciences (Queen's Campus)
New items for Modern Languages — Italian
New items for Information Technology Service
New items for Law
New items for Linguistics and Language
New items for Mathematical Sciences
New items for Meissen Collection
New items for Modern Languages & Cultures
New items for Music
New items for Philosophy
New items for Physics
New items for Government & International Affairs / Politics
New items for Psychology
New items for Psychology (Queen's Campus)
New items for Modern Languages — Russian
New items for School of Government & International Affairs
New items for Applied Social Sciences — Sociology
New items for Modern Languages — Spanish
New items for Applied Social Sciences — Sport
New items for Theology


Database Alerts

Many academic databases will allow you to set up alert services, usually using email or RSS, which will alert you to any new articles which match a search you have constructed.

Once you have constructed some effective and appropriately focussed searches, you can save these and allow our online subscription databases to do some of the work for you.

We have listed below some guides for some of the main database platforms. For any you use which are not listed, look for the in-database help pages, or contact the library for assistance.

  • Ebsco platform (including Anthropology Plus, ATLA, British Education Index, Business Source Complete, CINAHL, EconLit, ERIC, Historical Abstracts, MLA International Bibliograpy, Philosopher's Index, PsycINFO, RILM, SPORTDiscus)
  • Proquest (including ASSIA, ERIC, IBSS, Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts, Political Science Database, Sociological Abstracts)
  • ScienceDirect
  • Scopus
  • Web of Science

JSTOR users: Please note that JSTOR have withdrawn the facility to set up an email or RSS alert to searches of their content.

Google Scholar

You can also set up an email alert for any search you run in Google Scholar, by clicking on the icon to the left of the search results. At the footb of each email you receive, there is an option to cancel the alert, to help you manage any which send you to many results.

Alerts in Google Scholar

Citation Alerts

Like setting up an alert from a database based on a keyword search, you can also with some databases (and Google Scholar) set up an alert that will let you know when any new article is published (or indexed in that database) which has cited an article you are interested in.

For guidance and more information, see our Citation Searching page.

Mailing Lists

Online mailing and discussion lists continue to offer a prime means of communication between people with similar research interests or belonging to professional or academic societies, in tandem with less formal social media networks.

Two major directories of mailing lists, which you can explore for relevant groups and networks are:



The UK's National Academic Mailing List Service (and largest educational and research email discussion list community) - but don't be deceived; its main users include research communities worldwide. Includes lists for specific interest groups, societies, journals and conferences. Some allow you to join and search the discussion archive freely, some require you to request membership of the group.

JiscMail is funded by Jisc, which is a charity who champion the use of digital technologies in the UK education and research.

Access JISCMail.



The official catalogue of over 50,000 publically accessible LISTSERV discussion and mailing lists.

From here you can search and browse all lists by host country, size of membership and subject.

Access CataList.

Academic Blogging

Many academic authors use blogging as a means to promote their research to a wider audience, perhaps providing some context of the research or inviting further discussion.

To find relevant academic blogs, if you don't find them through conversations with fellow academics or serendipity, you might want to use a dedicated search engine or blog hosting service.

Examples of Durham Academic Blogs:

Hearing the Voice Inherently Human CEM Blog
Prof Richard Bower Blog Research English at Durham Primate and Predator Project

Academic Social Networks

Academic social networking sites, such as ResearchGate and Academia.edu can, like mailing lists, allow you to engage with global online networks of researchers to keep up to date with new projects, opportunities, ideas, discussions and publications.

For further guidance on these networks and why you may wish to use them, see our web pages on managing your digital footprint.

Social Bookmarking

One key issue you will find when setting up alerts to multiple different sources is how you manage all of the information you then accumulate. Social Bookmarking sites allow you, to some extent, to manage web content you discover, from blog posts, newspaper articles, websites of organisations and individuals, press releases, policy documents and other grey literature, through to academic literature . They often also function as a means of discovering new content, based on the shared interests of others who may be looking at the same material.

For more information on some of these services, such Delicious, Diigo and Mendeley, see our Managing Information web pages.


Whether you see Twitter (and other social media tools) as an essential communication and information platform, or as an enabler for procrastination, there are different ways of using and engaging with it to, for example, keep up to date with the "twitter conversation" at a conference you may not be able to attend in person.

For further information on using Twitter as part of managing your digital profile, see our web pages on managing your digital footprint.

For further guidance from the University's Marketing and Communications Office, on using Twitter and other forms of social media, see their Tools and Guides.

Don't want to create a Twitter account, but interested in searching to see what is being said aroudn a particular conference or #hashtag? You can still do so using their free to access search page.

Twitter Search

RSS Feeds and RSS Readers

Most alerting services you can set up will allow you to set up an alert to be delivered to via two mediums:

  • an email alert delivered to a provided email address.
  • a summary delivered as an item in an rss feed, which you can subscribe to and access via an online rss reader (such as Feedly), or save in some web browsers.

An RSS feed is also sometimes called a 'news aggregator', or just an 'aggregator', because that it what it does. It aggregates a summary of 'news' stories from the selected sources, and delivers them to you in a single location, in a browsable format so you can select which you wish to click through to read in full, and without you having to manually revisit and browse all the different sources yourself.

For a quick introduction to how to subscribe to and manage rss feeds, we run training as part of the Researcher Development Programme, including a session on keeping up to date using RSS feeds, or you can contact us to arrange a short 1-to-1 session. Alternatively, we have highlighted some useful pages below.

News and Newspapers

As with many of our databases of academic literature, we provide subscription access to a number of news databases, including Factiva and Nexis UK, from which you can search across thousands of local, national and international news and media sources, and set up alerts to eb updated of new content matching your search terms.

To explore the resources available to you, visit the library's news and newspaper resources web page.

Research Funding News

Idox's Grantfinder 4 Education (replacing a previous service, Research Professional) provides access to a range of services, including:

  • RESEARCHconnect - A complete research funding solution for the UK research community
  • POLICYfinder - A one-stop-shop for policy information, from European to local level
  • GRANTfinder – Features information on a comprehensive range of grants, loans and awards from local, regional and national sources (including UK government and European funding, charitable trusts and corporate sponsors)

Like Research Professional, the new system allows you to run and save funding searches, receive funding alerts and easily share information about opportunities with others.

How do I get an account?

If you would like to request an account for the new funding opportunities service, please email research.grantfinder@durham.ac.uk to request one. Please note that accounts will not be automatically created for existing Research Professional users.


The Research Operations Team run training (demonstration and hands-on workshop). These can be found and booked through the Training Booking System.

Conferences and Conference proceedings

Upcoming conferences and calls for papers

Disseminating your research and maintaining a visible research profile is part of your role as a researcher. You are likely to find out about conferences in your subject area via colleagues, scholarly societies in your subject area and departmental news, but two other sources may be of interest:

  • Mailing Lists - see our section on academic mailing lists
  • ConferenceAlerts - a useful service for browsing upcoming conferences in yours, and related subject areas.
    • Be aware that conferences listed on this service may not have gone through a quality assurance process for selection, so always check the reputation of the organisers, any identifiable conference committee members and the reputation of other or previous speakers.

Published conference papers and proceedings

You will find published conference papers and proceedings indexed in several of our subscription academic databases, including Scopus, Web of Science and Zetoc.

Visit our Conference Proceedings web pages for links to useful resources.

Patent Alerts

If you are looking for alerts to keep you up to date with new patents and patent applications, the services below may be of interest.

Some researchers at Durham may also find the following subscription service of interest:

  • SciFinder - whilst we do not have access to the PatentPak module, you can search by chemical structure, property etc for both relevant published journal articles and patents.
    • Note: Durham users will need to follow the link to register with the service first, logging in with your CIS username and password to get to the registration page.

For further information, see also the Research Commercialisation team's web pages.

New content from publishers

You can stay up to date with new publications by registering for email alerts from publishers' web sites, such as

Your Academic Liaison Librarian

James Bisset

Academic Liaison Librarian
Researcher Support


0191 334 1589

Training Overview

Researcher 1-2-1

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Need help? Drop me an email or request a 30 minute 1-to-1 consultation to scale any brick walls in your way.