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Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper

Offers detailed guidance on how to develop, organize, and write a college-level research paper in the social and behavioral sciences.


In general, "alert services" refer to features included with scholarly databases or made available by journal publishers that allow you to be notified by email or text message when something of interest to you has been added to a database or published in a journal. Alert services can be set up to notify you about newly published resources on a specific topic or when new articles are published in a journal.

USC Libraries subscribe to a number of databases that make electronic alert services available to users. Three different types of alert services are:

  1. Table of contents alerts -- updates of the table of contents of the most current issues of the journals you specify when signing up.
  2. Daily/weekly email alerts -- alerts that notify subscribers of articles matching submitted topics. Alert frequencies vary depending on the publisher's database updates.
  3. Saved search alerts -- emailed notifications of recent articles matching previously submitted searches.

Importance of...

While conducting a literature review, content alert services can be especially useful because:

  1. They can alert you to new articles in journals of particular interest or that you know are most likely to publish research on the topic you are investigating.
  2. Databases that index journals from a variety of different fields of study offer you multidisciplinary coverage of articles related to your topic of interest.
  3. They can alert you to new "pre-published" research [essentially final drafts of articles] before they are distributed to libraries and subscribers.

NOTE: In order to sign up for an alert service, an email address is required along with a username and password that you create. Be sure you read the privacy policy carefully before signing up so that you avoid receiving unwanted spam and solicitations from publishers.

Journal Contents Alert Services

Multidisciplinary alert services that notify you when a new issue of a journal is published.

  • CiteULike -- currently has details of over 13,000 journals. You can search or browse for journal titles, and then scan recent articles in these journals.  If you know aboutt RSS feeds, you can get a CiteULike feed for each journal table of contents. Access to the full text will depend on institutional or personal subscriptions. Registration is free.
  • ticTOCs -- covers over 12,500 journal table of contents from more than 430 publishers. You can search for journal titles, view the latest  table of contents for each journal, link to the full text of around 390,000 articles (where institutional or personal subscription allows), export table of content feeds to popular feedreaders, and select and save journal titles in order to view future table of contents (you need to register to ensure your ‘MyTOCs’ are permanently saved). Registration is free.

Procedures for setting up alert services from indexes and databases available from the USC Libraries.

Descriptions of resources are adapted or quoted from vendor websites.