Scholarly Impact Challenge: Day 4: Staying Up to Date

Join the Scholarly Impact Challenge to improve your research impact!

Being aware of new research in your field is a continual challenge for all in academia. The Libraries subscribe to several products and resources that make it easier for you to quickly gain access to full-text articles cited in free websites like Google Scholar and Wikipedia and receive alerts when new research on specific topics or from specific sources are published.


Staying Up to Date

We are constantly being bombarded with information every day. Yet most of it is not relevant to your research area. How can you be sure you haven't missed an important article or journal issue?

To help ensure that your research is relevant, current, and impactful it's important to stay up to date with your field and your research area. By utilizing technology, you can make sure you're aware of:

  • New publications in journals relevant to your research
  • New articles and studies by peers in your field
  • Trending research topics
  • Research funded by particular grant or group

There are a variety of tools and techniques to help keep you abreast of the latest developments and help save you time. Today we will discuss two tools. One tool will help you access full-text articles and the other will send alerts directly to your inbox.

Full-text Articles

Access Full-text Articles Quickly with Less Hassle

 As a researcher or academic, you might find scientific publications without using a traditional database: maybe you search publisher websites, maybe you follow a link from a search alert email you receive, maybe you are on Amazon checking the ISBN for a particular title, or maybe you are reading Wikipedia and see an article cited. If you can’t read an article, you can’t re-use it successfully, limiting the impact of this work. 

Today we want to introduce you to LibKey Nomad, a service that connects USC Libraries users to our subscription content quickly and easily!

LibKey Nomad Browser Extension

The USC Libraries recommends adding LibKey Nomad to your browsers. This browser extension connects you to USC Libraries journal subscriptions directly from some databases and journals. Watch the video below to learn more about LibKey Nomad.

NOTE: Researchers located at hospital settings may require approval and assistance from their IT personnel.


  • The USC Libraries provides researchers with access to a plethora of resources! As a successful library user you are likely familiar with our FindIt@USC button that appears when you access databases through our library website, if not watch our short video.
  • Did you know you can customize Google Scholar to connect with USC Libraries and avoid paywalls or questionable websites? Watch our short video.
  • USC Libraries doesn't have a copy of a particular article, what can you do? Use our Interlibrary Loan service to request a copy of an article. Don't miss out on valuable research and avoid paywalls!

Setting Up Alerts

Search alerts let you know when new articles are published on topics you're interested in or notify you when the full text of a new issue of a journal is available in a database. Rather than recreating searches or needing to remember when a journal releases their latest issue, search and journal alerts can save you time and energy while also ensuring you're getting the information you need.

Many databases offer search alert services via email or RSS feed. Today we will focus on PubMed since it is one of our most popular databases with more than 36 million citations and abstracts of biomedical literature.

My NCBI is a free account associated with PubMed that allows you to customize preferences for PubMed. My NCBI allows you to save searches, select display formats and filter options, and set up automatic journal and search email alerts. 

We recommend:

  • Setting up a My NCBI Account
  • Create journal alerts and RSS feeds
  • Create an alert for a particular search

Learn more about how to set up alerts in PubMed.

Many other popular databases also allow users to set up alerts. You can set up alerts for your favorite journal depending on which database(s) they appear in.

Databases such as:

  • Nature Publishing Group 
  • Science Direct
  • Oxford Journals
  • EBSCOHost
  • ProQuest
  • Ovid
  • SAGE Journals
  • SpringerLink
  • Taylor & Francis Online
  • Web of Knowledge/Web of Science
  • Wiley Online Library.

For more detailed information about how set up alerts in these databases visit our Staying Current with Dental, Medical, and Health Sciences Research guide.

Basic Challenge

Install LibKey Nomad on Your Favorite Browser 

To add LibKey Nomad Browser Extension

  1. Navigate to the download page and choose the browser you're using (Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, or Mozilla Firefox).
  2. Add the extension. NOTE: Individuals working in hospital settings may need permissions and assistance from their IT administrators or personnel before installing. Likewise, if you are working on shared device and do not have administrative privileges you may not be able to install it on your own.
  3. Double check that you select University of Southern California as your organization (there are other University of Southern... that you could accidentally select).
  4. Test it out! Try navigating to PubMed and running a search.

A green teardrop button will appear under each title in the search results page or in the bottom left hand of your screen when you have access to the full text of an item.

image of pubmed search featuring libkey nomad

Advanced Challenge

Create a PubMed Journal or Search Alert

Many health sciences researchers use PubMed frequently but may not be using all of the unique functions. For this challenge let's create an alert for either a journal in or a research topic.

Create a My NCBI account (if you have an account skip to the next task)

My NCBI is a free account associated with PubMed that allows you to customize preferences for PubMed. My NCBI allows you to save searches, select display formats and filter options, and set up automatic journal and search email alerts. 

To create a My NCBI account:
  • Click the link to PubMed@USC below or use another link on the USC Libraries website and sign in with your USC Net ID and password.
  • On the homepage of PubMed, click "Log in" on the top right of the page. 
  • Click "Other login options,"  
  • Click "New here? Sign up" and choose a 3rd party sign-in option to create your account.

Option 1: Create a Journal Alert

To create journal alerts in PubMed:
  1. Log in to PubMed@USC with your USC Net ID and password.
  2. Log in to your My NCBI account.
  3. Click on the "Advanced" link below the search box.
  4. In the advanced search builder box, select "Journal" from the drop-down menu.
  5. Type the name of the journal into the search box (but don't click search yet).
  6. Click "Show index" below ADD.
  7. A list of journal titles will appear. Click the correct journal title. This will update title of the journal in the search box. 
  8. Click "Search."
  9. On the results page, click "Create alert" below the search box and follow the prompts to save your preferences.
  10. Alerts will be emailed to you.

Option 2: Create a PubMed Search Alert

To create an alert for a search in PubMed: 
  1. Log in to PubMed@USC with your USC Net ID and password.
  2. Log in to your My NCBI account.
  3. Run a search in PubMed and apply any desired filters. 
  4. On the results page, click "Create alert" below the search box and follow the prompts to save your preferences.
  5. Alerts will be emailed to you. 

Day 5: Creative Commons copyright

In this Challenge, you learned about staying updated with new research results published in the form of articles. However, journal articles are not the only type of research outputs you might produce: data sets, software or code, posters, and images/diagrams are all scholarly outputs, but are typically more difficult to publish commercially. Continue on to Day 5 :Creative Commons Copyright, which allows you academics to self-publish these outputs and attach rights to allow re-use.