Current Awareness Services, such as Table of Contents Alerts, Search Alerts, and Cited Reference Alerts, help you keep on top of what is being published in your area of interest, or by specific authors, by automating key research practices.
These services are provided free by most publishers and database vendors and merely require you to register with them. Depending on the alerting service, you can select to be updated daily, weekly, or monthly via email or a RSS feed. Once registered, you will receive automatic updates to keep you current and aware of research of interest to you.
There are three main types of alerts you can set up:
Table of Contents Alerts.
Have the most recent Table of Contents of a journal sent to you via email or RSS feed. TOC alerts are often available through the journal publisher's website. Also, some databases that index the journal offer this service. (If you are not sure top journals in your field and you research in the areas of science, technology, and social sciences, consider using Journal Citation Reports to evaluate and compare journals using citation data and article counts drawn from over 11,000 scholarly and technical journals.)
Saved Search Alerts.
Have a search consistently or periodically run in a specific database. You will then be notified when new articles are added to the database that match your search parameters.
Be notified when a key citation in your research has been cited in another document. This can be set up through ISI Web of Knowledge and select other databases.
Most alerting systems allow you to choose how often you want to be "alerted": on a daily, weekly, or monthly.