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Research: Alerts (RSS & email)

Library support for postgraduate students and researchers

Rss feeds and email alerting services

Alerting services keep you up-to-date automatically by pushing out the latest information you have subscribed to either by email or by an RSS feed.

  • RSS feed alerts 
    RSS is a web feed format that is used to publish updated journal articles, news, blog entries, or other type of information. The advantages of using an RSS feed:
    • your email doesn’t get cluttered up with notifications
    • if you use an RSS reader, all your “subscriptions” are available in one place and can be organised  and searched whenever you’re connected to the internet
    • some RSS feeds can be pushed into facebook
  • Email alerts no commonly used icon – just look out for an email alert button.
    The advantages of using an email alert
    • Notifications are dropped right into your email (can’t be forgotten!)
    • Emails can be set to be moved automatically into a separate folder
    • You specify frequency of the  alert

Can an alerting service be customised?

Whether an alerting service can be customised or not generally depends on what the website or database concerned has set up. You will also notice that there is no consistency as to the type of alerting services available in each library database - some offer both an email alerting and an RSS alerting facility, while some will offer only one or the other.

The types of alerts vary – a quick check of the database HELP page will identify what is available. The following are some of the common type of alerts:

  • Pre-defined topics – interest area updates, topics selected by the website or database
  • You Define a topic
  • new content alert or all content alert
  • run a search, save the search and set an alert on that search
  • You Specify a journal title – Table of contents alert
  • You Specify an author
  • author’s new publications alert
  • citations received alert

Which journals should I follow?

Each academic discipline has it’s “must read” titles.


Where will my RSS feed appear?

Setting your RSS feed to your computer (viewable only on that computer)

  • Internet Explorer 11 (more suitable if you only have a few feeds) - RSS feed will appear in Favourites
    Online tutorial:
  • Mozilla Firefox (more suitable if you only have a few feeds) - RSS feed will appear in the Bookmarks

Setting your RSS feed to an online site (viewable on any computer)

If you subscribe to multiple feeds from websites and library databases, the better option for viewing RSS feeds is to use an RSS aggregator or a feed reader. These online reader services gather all your RSS feeds into one location. Most feed readers are free but some may charge a small fee.

A search on Google for “best RSS feeder” will unearth a huge number of RSS feeders as there are hundreds of feed readers available, with all kinds of interfaces and features. You will need to find one which suits you – its “look”, its functionality and whether it suits the type of information you have subscribed to. You may also need to check if it is compatible with all of your devices e.g. for android or OS (apple) or both.

The following are a sample of some RSS feed readers:


Digg Reader

RSS Feed Reader  available on Chrome

The Old Reader



Troubleshooting: Linking to the fulltext article from an email alert or RSS feed

If you have set up an alert to a library database such as Emerald or Proquest etc., and if the library has subscribed to the fulltext of the journal, you should be able to connect to those resources just by clicking on the link the alert has provided.

Links provided by alerting services generally always work while you are on-campus, as the databases are set up to provide authentication by IP range (database knows you’re on an ECU campus computer, no need to authenticate).

Potential problems with linking to articles off-campus:
Most ECU online library resources are paid subscription titles and require the user to authenticate (ads login) before viewing the fulltext of articles or ebooks. This is done by including “ezyproxy” information in the alert’s URL. If the alert does not include the “ezyproxy” information, try adding into the URL as in the examples below.

Examples of URLs which will connect you to fulltext off-campus:

Link only works on campus:

Link will works on & off campus: