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Journal Alerts & Search Alerts: Search Alerts

What are search alerts?

Search alerts allow you to create an alert for a search you perform in a database. When new items that match your search terms are added to the database, you will receive an e-mail or RSS feed notification. This can save time and help keep you up-to-date on research. Instead of going back to the database again and again to do the same search, you will get alerts about new articles that match your search.

While this page focuses on how to set up search alerts in the EBSCO and ProQuest company databases, many other databases offer the option to set up alerts. Look around the database search page for links that may say alerts, search alerts, RSS, or Save search. You may need to create a free account with the database company to access the alerts feature. If you aren’t finding a way to set up alerts in other databases, contact us through Ask a Librarian for help.

Create a search alert

To create a search alert, you will first need to do a search in a database. Here are some things to consider before performing your search:

  • Choose a subject database that focuses on your topic area; this will help you find the most relevant information. For example, if your topic focuses on education, the education databases are a great place to search. If you need suggestions for databases, contact us at Ask a Librarian.
  • Make the search precise enough to focus closely on your topic while still getting results.  If you use a broad search, you will be overwhelmed with alerts and may not see all the relevant articles.

Here is how you can set up a search alert:

  1. Once you’ve chosen your database and potential search terms, enter your search terms in the database search boxes. Include search limits, such as peer review, as appropriate.
  2. Run your search. Look through the results to make sure that you are getting relevant results. You may want to experiment with search terms and searches until you are getting results that are helpful and focused.
  3. Once you have a search you would like to use, locate the link to create an alert on the search results page.

In EBSCO databases:

  1. click the Share link to open a new box and set up your alert. The Share link is located above the search results list.

  2. You can choose the e-mail or RSS feed option once the box opens.


In ProQuest databases:

  1. Look for the Save search/alert link to open a new box and set up your alert. The Save search/alert box is available after you have run the search. You will find it near the search box toward the top of the page.

  2. You can choose the e-mail or RSS feed option once the box opens.


Finish setting up the alert

Once you’ve chosen to click either an email or RSS alert link, follow the prompts to finish setting up the alert.

  • Depending on the database and option you have chosen, you will select preferences, such as how frequently you would like to be alerted, length of time to receive alerts, and type of article information to receive.
  • For e-mail alerts, you may need to set up a personal account in that database to use the alert feature. Because this account is a personal account between you and the database company, you can use any e-mail that you want.

Note:The Library does not have access to these accounts or passwords, so you’ll want to keep track of your account information.

  • For RSS feeds, copy the link generated by the database and enter the link information into your RSS feed reader. Want more information about RSS and feed readers?  See our RSS page in this guide.

Short video: Search Alert

See how to create a search alert by watching this short video.

Search Alerts

(3 min 4 sec) Recorded July 2019