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Literature Review Challenge

Welcome to Day 2 of the Literature Review Challenge (Graduate Student Focus)!

Want to stay on top of literature in your field and keep your research up-to-date? One approach that can optimize your search and review time is to create alerts in the databases or search engines that you use.

Your Challenge: Set Up Search Alerts in Two or More Places

Search alerts allow you to track new publications that are added to databases, based on your search terms. Setting up alerts in multiple places can be beneficial given that each database or search engine has access to unique content. If you plan to leave UMaine at some point in the future, Google Scholar alerts are free and accessible at any time and with any email address.

This challenge is a twofer: first, we'll create a search alert in Google Scholar, and then we'll create a search alert in one of the library's databases (two very different approaches to staying apprised of information relevant to your discipline). Instructions for each are below.

First up, Google Scholar

1. Run a search with your keywords (consider the search strategies you used yesterday).

2. In your results list, on the left side of the page, click on the "Create alert" button.

Note: The Google Scholar Alerts service searches for new material that has been added to the Google Scholar database, which is not always newly published material. 

Note: You can also follow authors who have Google Scholar profiles by: clicking on their names in your results list; clicking on Follow; and choosing which aspects of their published works you want to stay abreast of, including new articles by the author, new citations to the author, new articles related to the author's work.

Next, choose one of the options below (EBSCO, ProQuest, or Web of Science): 

​EBSCO Databases through Fogler Library (e.g., America: History & Life, Art Full Text, CINAHL, Communication & Mass Media Complete, Environment Complete, LGBTQ+ Source, PsycINFO, and many others)

1. Click on the EBSCOHost Database Collection link above.

2. Click on "Sign in" at the top of the page and create a free EBSCO account (or sign into your account if you already have one).

3. Once you are signed into your account, select the database(s) you would like to include in your search alert.

4. Run a search with your keywords (consider the search strategies you used yesterday).

5. In the results list, click on the Share dropdown menu and then click Email Alert or RSS feed.

6. Choose your settings and click "Save Alert."

ProQuest Databases through Fogler Library (e.g., Agricultural & Environmental Science Collection, ASFA: Aquatic Sciences and Fisheries Abstracts‎, Business Premium Collection, EconLit, ERIC, Sociology Collection, and many others)

1. Run a search with your keywords (consider the search strategies you used yesterday). 

2. On the results page, beneath the search box, select Save Search/Alert.

3. Select Create Alert.

4. Set your parameters.

Note: Create a free account in ProQuest to modify, delete, or view all of your alerts. 

Note: If you do not want your search alert to include all of ProQuest's databases (that is the default), click on the Databases link in the gray bar along the top of the page and select the database(s) relevant to your discipline.

Web of Science

1. Create a free Web of Science account.

2. Run a search with your keywords (consider the search strategies you used yesterday).

3. On the results page, select "Search History".

4. Select "Save History/Create Alert".

5. Name your search, set your parameters, and select "Save".

Bonus Challenge: Set up Table of Contents Alerts!

Consider tracking new issues of specific journals that are important to your work. An advantage to journal alerts is that they are typically faster than database alerts since they come directly from the publisher. Thus, if you want to be alerted as soon as new content comes out, set up an alert or two to some of your favorite journals. Below are some options (you can also visit the publisher pages of the journals of interest to you to see if they have ToC alerts).

Sign up for a free account to get the latest Tables of Contents from a selection of over 33,000 journals.

Note: When creating a password, avoid special characters like exclamation points - these will not comply with JournalTOCs' password requirements.

Create a free NCBI account. Click on Advanced, then select Journal from the dropdown menu. Search for a journal of interest, and in your results list, click on "Create alert" under the search bar. You can then set parameters related to frequency, format, and number of items in the alerts you receive.

Web of Science
Create a free account. Click on the "Searches and alerts" menu, then "Journal alerts." Click the Add Journals button to launch the journals finder. Search for titles and select those of interest to you. Alerts are given a default expiration date that you can renew.

Congratulations! You have completed Day 2 of the Literature Review Challenge!

Tomorrow, we'll look at ways to organize your literature in order to: keep track of your process (and progress), and find patterns in the literature that can inform your research questions and writing.

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