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CHE/MAE/MSE 593: Applied Project : Keeping Current

How to do a literature review for SEMTE applied projects.

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Use the special features within databases, journals and news-sites to keep up to date on your topic. 

There's no need for you to continually rerun searches in databases nor do daily checks in your favorite journals.  You can have databases, journals and news sites automatically alert you to new material that is available on your topic/area of research

  • Saved search features are most likely to be available within databases that index journal articles.  Each time the database is updated, your search will be run against the new items.  You'll receive an email with a citation list of the new items that matched your search.  Most databases update weekly.  

  • Alerts send you an email notification and are mostly used to let you know when a new issue of a journal has been released.  The email will usually replicate the table of contents.  

  • RSS Feeds require a "feed reader".   Most web browsers have a feed reader and you can also use "My ASU" (Announcements box, and as part of "My Stuff" link in the left column) to handle your feeds.    Feeds are mostly used to send news items which are short and occur frequently.  Some databases are now using feeds to send the results of saved searches and feeds are becoming more common on journal sites as well.   

  • Mobile Apps and Device Pairing are for smartphone and tablet users. Although not yet universal nor available on all operating systems, more publishers are starting to provide these.  How the apps and pairing function and what they can be used for, varies; some do have alerting features but not all.     

How you set up these features will vary.  In most cases you'll be required to set up a personal account or profile with the journal or database --- there is no charge for this but you will have to identify yourself and provide an email address.  

Note: results from email alerts and rss feeds should be used while on-campus as the full-text links in the alerts/feeds will not work from off-campus; to access the full text of articles/journal alerts from off-camus, use the Libraries' Library One Search database and/or Journal Title Lookup. 

Save a Search

The Saved Search feature is most likely to be found in indexing databases.  Every time the database is updated with new material, your search will be run against the new material.  You'll be sent an email with the citations for all the new material that matches your search. 

The links on these emails will only be usable from on-campus - sometimes there will be just one link that takes you to the whole list of your results within the database or each item in your email will have a link back to the item's record within the database.  Once in the database, use the "full text", "PDF", or "Get It @ ASU" links to get to the full text of the item.

How to Set Up a Saved Search

To set up a saved search, you usually create and perform the search you'd like to save.  Then look for a link or button for "Saved Searches"; if one is not available, look under headings such as "My Profile", "My Account" or "My Settings".   In some databases, saved searches are called "Alerts".  To receive an email alert you will have to register for a personal account with the database - registration is free.

Instructions for specific databases:

  • ABI/Inform (business articles and reports)
    • Once in the database, click on the "My Research" link in the upper right corner of the screen on the blue navigation bar
    • Login (If you haven't already registered, scroll the login page down and click on "Create a My Research Account)
    • Click on the "Search" link in the upper left of the screen, directly under the blue navigation bar
    • Do the search you'd like to save
    • Once the search results are displayed, click on the "Recent Searches" link on the blue navigation bar
    • A list of the searches you've performed are now listed - for the one(s) you'd like to save, click on the "Create an Alert"
    • A blue window will pop up - fill in the information and click on the "Create" button in the lower right-hand corner 


  • Compendex (journal articles and conference papers from all areas of engineering and manufacturing), and
    Inspec (journal articles, conference papers, patents and technical reports in electrical engineering, computer science, and physics)
    Will run a saved search strategy each week against the new items added to the database; you may create up to 125 different alerts.
    • Once in the database, do the search you'd like to have run each week,
    • Next, click on "Search History" in the upper right of the screen
    • Click in the "Email Alert" box on the line for that search.
    • Login (If you haven't already registered, click on the "Register Now" link in the right column)
    • The Search History screen will refresh and you'll see that "Saved" is now indicated on the far right of the search. (You may now either resume searching or "End Session")
    • To review or remove your email alerts, click on the "My Alerts" link in the upper right corner of the screen.
    • A RSS feed option is available.
  • SciFinder Web (covers all areas of pure and applied chemistry)
    For instructions on setting up a SciFinder Web current alert, see http://www.cas.org/ASSETS/26E068F936A647A7A8759D4071B1B975/kmp.pdf 

  • Web of Science (journal articles from most subject areas)
    Will send email notification if a specific article has been recently cited.
    • Once in the Web of Science, find the article for which you'd like to receive citation alerts,
    • Click on the title of the article to go to the full record page,
    • In the right hand column, click on the "Create Citation Alert" button,
    • Log-in (or click on the link to "Register" in the left-hand column)
    • A RSS feed option is available.
    • To remove the alert, click on the "My Citation Alerts" link in the upper right corner of the screen, then click on the "Modify Settings" button, then click in the "Remove from list" box for that alert, and submit changes.

Create an Alert

Alerts are used mostly by journals to send you an email notification when a new issue has been released.  The email will usually replicate the table of contents with a link to each item within in the issue but could be just a simple link to the issue as a whole.  Results from email alerts should be used while on-campus as the full-text links in the email will not work from off-campus; to access the full text of articles/journal alerts from off-camus, use the Libraries' Library One Search and/or Journal Title Lookup. 

How to Set up a Journal Alert

For each journal from which you want an alert, go to the journal's website using the Libraries' Journal Title Lookup.   On the site, look for a link or button for "Alerts"; if one is not available, look under headings such as "My Profile", "My Account" or "My Settings".  Many journals have some form of alerting service, but it varies from publisher to publisher and sometimes even titles from the same publisher may have different features available. 

Set up a RSS Feed

RSS Feeds were originally used to send news items which are short and occur frequently.  Many journals and databases are now offering RSS Feeds as an alternative to sending email alerts.  

Feeds are more flexible than emails but require "feed reader" software on your end.    Most web browsers have a feed reader; for example, Internet Explorer handles feeds within "Favorites", and a feed can be embedded within a web page.  Some sections within "My ASU" will handle feeds (Announcements box, "My stuff" area).

The feed symbol looks like this:     

  • If you would like to add the feed into your browser, when you are viewing a webpage and the browser shows the feed icon, click on the icon to display the feed and then click on the "subscribe to this feed" link.   The browser will then ask where you want the feed placed.

  • To add a feed to your reader, you'll need to have the feed's URL.  Instead of clicking on the "subscribe to this feed link", right-click on it instead; then choose "properties" - the fee's URL will be displayed in the pop-up window.  Copy and paste this URL into your feed reader.

Mobile Apps & Device Pairing

If you use a tablet or smartphone, check your App Store for a favorite journal, publisher, and/or database.  Many publishers and vendors now have apps available; some apps provide full (or partial) search capabilities while others provides alerts for new material.   Keep checking your Apps Store periodically as new apps are continually being released.

Note: depending on how the app is set up, you may not be able to access the full-text of articles from off-campus.

Couldn't find an app for your favorite journal/publisher?   When you're on-campus, take a look at the journal's/publisher's website using your smartphone or tablet; some publishers have a "mobile pairing" feature where you or your device is identified as an authorized user under ASU's institutional license.  With device pairing set up, you'll be able to use your smartphone or tablet to see the full text of that publisher's journals while you are off-campus.  

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