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How To Use Alerting Services: Getting Started

This guide highlights the different types of alerting services and provides links to aid in setting up alerts

Types of Alerts

 Table of Contents Alert

A Table of Contents (TOC) alert automatically sends you the table of contents from a new journal issue.

There are several ways to find TOC alerts for individual journals. Here are some common methods with their pros and cons:

  • Go directly to the journal's website and look for an "Alert" link. Often journals will provide the ability to subscribe to an alert service on their site. However, you may not be able to sign up for the alert without your own paid subscription or directly link to the full-text of the articles when you receive the alert.
  • Access the journal through the library catalog page for that journal. You will have free access to all the journal issues to which the Wayne State University Libraries subscribe. Accessing the journal through the library site will enable you to be recognized as a subscriber, and you will not be prompted for any payment.
  • Use an alert from a database which indexes your journal. Many of our indexes and databases will allow alerts to be set up that notify you when new content from a specific journal is added.
Search Alert

A search alert allows you to save a custom search within a database. The search will run automatically whenever the database is updated or at the interval you specify, and you will receive notification of any new material that is found.

Citation Alert

You can select a list of articles from a database, and each time one of those articles is cited in new literature within the database, you will be notified.

Publication Alert

A Publication Alert notifies you when a particular article has been published online, often before publication of the entire journal.

Saved Search

Saved Searches are search queries and/or results saved by the database for future retrieval and re-searching.


The Annotation function allows you to save short annotated notes in the databases personal account, which are linked to specific citations.

Comment Alert

Some journals allow users to respond to individual articles through a commenting system. Comment alerts will notify you whenever a new comment is posted on a particular article.

NOTE: Links in some email alerts may not be fully compliant with the WSU proxy server, so you may need to retrieve the article directly by accessing the WSU licensed resource.


Welcome to the guide for Alerting Services!

We hope that you will find this guide a useful starting place for information on alerting services. We have assembled a core collection of resources available through the Wayne State University Library System, as well as high quality, freely available web resources. This guide is a collaborative work-in-progress, developed with the suggestions and feedback from students and faculty.

Many online journals and databases offer alerting services, whereby interested users can receive notification of new issues of a journal, new results from a search, or new citations of a given article. Several databases also allow registered users to save their searches for future access and updating.

Alert Sources

Need Help?

List of Journal Publishers

General Alerting Services