Keeping up to Date in Your Subject of Study
During your time as a student, and particularly in postgraduate studies and subsequent careers, you may find it extremely useful to keep up-to-date with the latest developments, literature and events in your subject area. Such activities will enable you to include the latest ideas and findings in your dissertation, reports and presentations.
Today, there is a very wide range of web-based and social media facilities available to choose from to aid you in this task. Many services operate in the form of alerting services which will automatically deliver the latest information to you in the forms of e-mail or social media feeds. To register for these services, all you usually need to supply is a username (often in the form of an e-mail address) and your own selected password.
Please remember that as an Aberystwyth University student, while you can use your AU e-mail address to register for such services, it is not recommended that you use your AU password.
There are several different areas in which “keeping up-to-date” can be useful and this page will look through a number of these:
Most catalogues and subject databases will offer an online alerting service where you can define the topics on which you wish to be kept up-to-date by completing a search on the system and then saving your search as an alert.
- To keep up-to-date on new books in the AU libraries, you can set up an alert on Primo, the library catalogue.
Follow the procedure given in our FAQ.
- To keep up-to-date on new content in your favourite journals, you can set up an alert on Zetoc Alerts.
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:
- To keep up-to-date with new research papers in the topic of your choice, you can set up a Subject Alert in the Web of Science Core Collection.
Web of Science 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 official guide to Saving Search Histories and Creating Alerts on the Web of Science can be found on YouTube.
A screenshot of the final stage of the process of turning your Web of Science search strategy into a Subject Alert is shown in the screenshot below:
- To keep up-to-date with when new papers are published which cite one of your favourite articles, you can create a Citation Alert.
Again, the example shown uses the Web of Science database, but similar features are available in most major databases.
Please note that in order to set up a Citation Alert in Web of Science, you first need to set up your own individual Web of Science username and password using the Register button at the top right of the Web of Science screen (see screenshot in Section 3 above).
Guides to creating Web of Science Citation Alerts can be found at the:
Once you have completed all the stages correctly, the “Create Citation Alert” window will appear as below. To complete setting up the Citation Alert, make sure your e-mail address is correct, select your desired e-mail format and then click on “Create Citation Alert”.
Joining the relevant professional societies in your subject area, either on a national basis or internationally, can gain you many useful contacts and help to keep you up-to-date with new professional and academic developments by way of conferences, meetings, mailing lists and social media.
There are many directories of Professional Associations available on the web, giving lists of associations in particular subject areas with their contact details. Many of these directories are now accessible without charge.
There are also many lists available covering societies in specific subjects. Some examples are shown below but a simple enquiry into a search engine using the phrases : “scholarly societies” “professional associations” “directories” [your subject] will retrieve many more.
Social Media Feeds
Feeds, sometimes known as RSS Feeds, allow you to see when social media sites all over the world have added new content. You can get the latest headlines, articles and multimedia files all delivered to one place, without having to remember to visit each site every day.
A useful primer on RSS feeds can be found on the BBC website at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/help/rss/default.htm
The symbols which are normally found on a website providing an feed service are usually like this:
In order to receive Social Media feeds, you will need to sign up feed reader. These are usually free and some examples of well-tried and tested feed readers are given below:
Just as a word of warning, please be aware that some feed sites change extremely rapidly and your feed reader can become full very quickly. Choose your sites carefully – those which are updated only occasionally through the day may be best to start with.
Web Alert Services
As an alternative to RSS feeds, you can sign up to website alerting services which give you alerts when any of the websites which you have identified change. Sometimes, you can specify to receive alerts only when new material has been added rather than when old material has been removed.
Examples of such services include:
ChangeDetection.com is now part of:
Some organisations run their own Web Alerting Services:
Blogs and Podcasts
Most academic institutions and many individual departments and researchers now issue informal updates on their activities in the form of blogs and podcasts.
Good examples of websites in which both personal and institutional blogs and podcasts can be selected for following, include:
*includes specific sections on science, technology, education, arts, society, culture
Once you have found a blog or podcast which you like, you can then keep up-to-date with it using sites like Netvibes or Feedly.
Researchers Social Networks
Increasing numbers of social networking sites have been set up specifically to cater for researchers’ needs, many being linked to reference storage and CV facilities. Such sites may also encourage the posting and answering of research queries, often in topic groupings. There are also opportunities to follow the research activities of your colleagues, take part in discussion groups and post your own research papers and ideas, thereby publicising both yourself and your research. Some of the most noteworthy examples are listed below:
An older form of academic discussion forum is provided by academic listserv and mailing lists, many of which have been operating continuously since the 1980s. Most lists are free to join on application to the list moderator(s) and usually, you can opt to receive all postings in real time or a “digest” form of mailings once per day.
Examples of listservs of long standing with very wide academic ranges are given below:
Although originating mainly as a leisure facility, many individual researchers and institutions are now setting up official Twitter accounts to get their message across in short, sharp bursts, particularly relating to soft marketing, technical developments and job opportunities. Please take note, however, that you should always take steps to ensure that any information which you obtain from Twitter is from an official institutional account before quoting it elsewhere, as many “unofficial” corporate sites are known to exist.
You can find out more about verified Twitter accounts on the Twitter Help Centre.