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There are many tools available to you that will help you keep up to date with the latest research in your field. They each have their advantages and disadvantages, depending on how you like to work, so try them out to see if they suit your workflow.

On this page:



BrowZine is a new tool that updates you with new articles published in online academic journals subscribed to by the University:

  • You can browse journal titles by subject

  • Users can create their own account to enable notifications, share article links, and export to reference management software

  • You can download the BrowZine app for your tablet or smartphone from your app store, and get the same functionality.


Publisher websites and social media accounts

  • ToC (Table of Content) email alerts via publishers for individual journals e.g. Royal Society of Chemistry, Elsevier ScienceDirect

  • Social media – Twitter and Facebook pages for publishers and/or individual journal titles e.g. Royal Society of Chemistry

  • RSS feeds

N.B. Personalised or institutional accounts are usually required to login and set up e-ToC alerts, but you can still see the content of journal/publisher Facebook and Twitter feeds from journal websites without having to have an account yourself.

Good …

  • If you favour particular journals

  • If you have social media accounts

Not so good …

  • You have to create alerts for each journal

  • Visiting the website repeatedly if you don’t have a social media account


Citation database alerts

  • Save and re-run searches on citation databases e.g. Web of Science, Scopus, PubMed, Google Scholar.

  • Search alerts - alert automatically searches the last update to the database, and then sends all relevant results to you by e-mail e.g. Web of Science, Scopus

  • Citation alerts – receive an email when someone cites an individual article or articles on a topic that you have found on a database e.g. Web of Science, Scopus

  • See this Keeping Current with the Literature guide from the NIH for instructions on how to create alerts with all of these resources (includes videos).

Good …

  • For keeping up to date with multiple journals with multiple publishers

  • You can see who is citing papers you (or someone else) have authored

  • Saves time by running searches routinely for you

  • You can access full the text from the email that is sent to you


Reference managers

Look for reference managers' ‘share/collaborate’ functionality, e.g. Mendeley, Zotero, EndNoteWeb.

Good …

  • For streamlining your workflow if using a particular reference manager/citation database

  • If you like social media and connecting with other researchers

Not so good …

  • If you use a different reference manager to your colleagues



Use altmetrics to track articles and receive email alerts when a particular item such as a journal article is mentioned, by using unique IDs such as DOIs, or keywords.

Good ...

  • Monitor the attention that a paper or other item that you or someone else has authored receives on social media, in newspapers, in patents, in policy documents etc.

  • Discover how your research may be being used in a way you’ve not considered

  • Discover popular new content to read e.g. a Tweet may mention something interesting in relation to your work

Not so good ...

  • Altmetrics do not indicate the quality of the research being mentioned

  • Altmetrics do not track all the sources where a paper is mentioned as people do not always include the DOI in their newspaper article, blog, tweet, etc.


Journals ToCs alert service

JournalToCs is a specialist service that will send you alerts for multiple journals.

  • It is produced by Heriot-Watt University and is free to individuals.

  • It contains articles' metadata of TOCs for over 31,745 journals directly collected from over 3333 publishers (includes Open Access journals).

  • You can search for journal content by title, ISSN, keyword.

  • You can browse publishers or subjects (e.g. 661 journals in Chemistry)    

  • Tick journal titles to ‘follow’ them and tick to receive email alerts when new papers published    

  • You can export citations to a reference manager.

  • Alerts provide links to journal homepage only.    

  • You access it via a personal account that you have to register for. 

  • It has RSS functionality.

Good …

  • Can be used to search for papers on a topic and alert you

  • If you like RSS feeds

  • Emails link you directly to the full text, if subscribed

Not so good …



Download apps for your favourite journals onto your mobile device. You can set up notifications to appear whenever new journal articles are published, according to your search criteria. Tried and tested in Cambridge examples are Wiley, RSC Mobile, Chemistry News by C&EN. Apps are usually advertised via publisher websites, and are available to download from your app store. When installing the app, you will need to authenticate via Raven password while on the University network once only, and then you will be able to access University subscribed content from anywhere. You can often download content to read offline, and share it with others by email or on social media.

Apps of interest:

  • BrowZine is a new tool that updates you with new articles published in online academic journals subscribed to by the University:

    • You can browse journal titles by subject

    • Users can create their own account to enable notifications, share article links, and export to reference management software

    • You can download the BrowZine app for your tablet or smartphone from your app store, and get the same functionality.

  • Read by QxMD focusses on medical and scientific journals, gives access to full text of content if the University subscribes, and it links to PubMed records:

    • Download app;

    • Create your Read account and select ‘University of Cambridge’ from dropdown list;

    • Connects you to subscribed journals on- and off-campus;

    • Otherwise, connects you to open access paper.

  • Researcher covers 15,000 journals over 10 "research areas", including chemistry (but there is no institutional subscription so it does not detect or provide full text access to University subscribed journals). It also integrates and synchs with Mendeley and Zotero reference managers.

Good …

  • Usually free

  • If you favour particular journals

  • Can download content to read offline

  • Can access University subscribed content from anywhere

  • Can share content

Not so good …

  • Only recent content is usually available

  • Might not (yet) be available - or for your device's OS (Operating System e.g. Android, iOS)


Conference proceedings

The outcome of research is often presented at a conference before any reports are published, so searching conference proceedings can be a good way of finding out about the latest research on your topic. Web of Science and Scopus index conference proceedings that you can set up email/RSS alerts for (see the above sections for more information).

Good ...

  • You can include conference proceedings in your citation and subject database searches, as well as on Google Scholar, so you don't necessarily have to perform separate searches for them. They can be included in your alerts too.

Not so good ...

  • There are many sources of conference proceedings and they are often published and indexed in different ways, making them harder to track down.

  • They are not always published promptly, or at all.


Academic networking sites

You may have heard of ResearchGate and They are social networking tools for the academic community; for-profit platforms where researchers share papers and book chapters, and you can track them.

Good ...

  • You can identify areas and subjects you are interested in.

  • You can follow people and projects.

  • You are notified of relevant new discussions and papers when they are uploaded or posted by researchers.

  • You can request a copy of a paper or book chapter for example from an author if you cannot get it elsewhere.

Not so good ...

  • Beware copyright implications and check the publisher T&Cs before sharing or downloading anything (but it is ok to share the open access version of a paper). Publishers have sued authors and academic networking sites because they have shared papers and they are not actually allowed to under the terms of the copyright agreement they have signed with them. You may wish to read these articles for examples of Elsevier and ACS: ResearchGate pulls 200,000 files from its site, amid publisher pressure (ResearchGate), Elsevier clamps down on academics posting their own papers online (, and Publishers take ResearchGate to court, alleging massive copyright infringement (ResearchGate).

  • Use the 'Request full text' button on your profile if you wish to share anything with others as this allows you to share on an individual basis rather than with the millions of researchers registered on the platform (and risks copyright infringement).

  • These sites are operated by for-print companies. They may not be around forever: what will you do if they fold as a business? This is also relevant if you are using the site as a place where you keep a list of your research outputs, or to store them. There are better alternatives, i.e. University operated sites such as the University repository, Apollo, Symplectic Elements, and cloud-based storage.


Explore connected papers in a visual graph

Try using Connected Papers to get a visual overview of a new academic field, make sure you haven't missed an important paper, create a bibliography, and discover relevant prior and derivative works.


Literature searching and critical reading skills

There are a couple of courses designed by Cambridge Libraries to help you develop these skills when locating and reading the literature you have found:

  • Literature Searching online, self-paced course, self-enrolled. Aimed at undergraduates but suitable for all.

  • Critical Reading introductory, online, self-paced course, self-enrolled. Suitable for all.