VCU Libraries

Research Guides

National Scholarship Support

Use this guide to help get your research started when applying for national scholarships.

Your Librarian

Megan Hodge's picture
Megan Hodge
Cabell Library
Room 121-E
(804) 827-3910

Bring the Info to You: RSS Feeds and Email Alerts

Instead of going to many different resources all the time, you can have information delivered directly to you. Depending on the type of resource, this information will come to your e-mail or to a simple type of tool called an RSS reader. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. Most people use RSS by collecting RSS feeds for Web-based information they are interested in and storing them in a news reader/aggregator.

Get a brief explanation of an RSS feed

Once you have decided which to use, you can subscribe to RSS feeds from journals, news sites, or blogs that you check regularly that use the technology. When you "subscribe" to a feed, your newsreader will file that information away and notify you when new content has been posted on the journal, news site, or blog.

Different newsreaders have different "looks" and "feels," in everything from their interface to how they let you know about new content arriving.  Take a few minutes to try out some different readers before settling on one to use.

Many research databases allow you to save your search as an alert.  This means that your search continues to run (even when you're not in the database) and new results are sent to you by e-mail (or you can often choose RSS). This can be a great way to keep up with new developments in your research topic (your thesis, dissertation - build that lit review). To sign up for alerts you need to use the personalization feature of the database.  Sign up is free, and doesn't have to be linked to your eID and password. 

Some databases that offer alerts include the following:

  • EBSCO Databases (My EBSCOhost) - CINAHL, Philosopher's Index, SPORTDiscus, Art Full Text, Humanities Abstracts, Social Sciences Abstracts, and more.
  • ProQuest Databases (My Research) - AGRICOLA, DAAI, EconLit, GeoRef, PAIS International, and more.
  • PubMed (My NCBI)


This is becoming a common feature, so check your favorite database. The sign up/in link is usually found in the upper right corner of the database window.

In addition, many publishers allow you to set up Table of Contents (TOC) alerts. You select the journals you are interested in, and when a new issue is published, you are notified by e-mail, with the table of contents from the new issue. Check the help documentation in your favorite database for information on setting up alerts or get in touch via the Ask Us! box to the left!

Loading ...