Creating Email Alerts in Google and Online Databases

This Tech Tip was submitted by Melanie Larson, Director of Institutional Research, Lasell College.

This Tech Tip shows how to set up email alerts that search the Internet or online databases available in many academic libraries. Among other things, email alerts can help you find out when journals publish articles on topics of interest. They also help you stay “in the know” whenever your institution is mentioned in local media. I’ve found it useful to build alerts in both Google and in library databases because they yield different kinds of information. Both types of alerts are easy to set up, and the process is similar.

Let’s start with Google.  To build a Google alert, visit the alert area of the Google website. Type your search terms under “search query.” (A good search query to start with is often your institution’s name.) As you set up the alert, you need to choose what kind of information sources you would like included in the alert, how often you want to have results sent to you, and to what email address they should be delivered.



After you set up your alert, you will receive an email with a confirmation link needed to confirm that you want to receive the email alert you have just created. Otherwise, it will not be activated. Once you activate the alert, the process is complete for getting your new alert emails delivered to you.  Note that you don’t have to do build alerts using a Google email address.

Google alerts are easy to set up and require almost no commitment—the bottom of every email alert contains a hyperlink to delete the alert and discontinue future email, as shown below.


Email alerts can also be set up in some of the online databases available in many academic libraries. Log in to your institution’s online library to see what databases are available. In terms of creating alerts, ProQuest and EBSCO are two of my favorites. In both databases, you begin by conducting a search. In ProQuest, enter your search terms and click “search,” as shown below:


When you get to the “results” page, click on “create an alert.” This will open a menu that asks you to customize your alert notifications, as shown below.



In EBSCO databases, you also begin by creating a search. The link to create an alert is on the right side of your search results page.


 Click the “email alert” option and customize your alert notifications, as shown below:

Like Google, both ProQuest and EBSCO will send you confirmation emails needed to activate your alert. As soon as you confirm, you will begin getting your custom news delivered to your inbox.  

As you become more familiar with creating basic alerts, you will find that this easy tip is just the “tip” of the alert iceberg! For example, users can set up Google alerts as newsfeeds, or create a ProQuest free “My Research” account that allows greater flexibility. Finally, Google, ProQuest, and EBSCO are just a few examples – users can find alert capabilities that follow similar logic in other databases, too.




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Total Comments: 8
Gary posted on 12/10/2012 12:56 PM
This is something I've meant to figure out and set up for a while; this tip got me through it in just a few minutes - thanks! I'll be making good use of from now on.
Michael posted on 12/10/2012 1:03 PM
This is a good piece of knowledge for those institutions that do not subscribe to one of the many alert services that exist, or if you are interested in specific topics that you are tracking longitudinally.
Reuben posted on 12/10/2012 1:11 PM
Oh, very interesting. It makes me wonder if you can specifically limit your searchers to Google Scholar. I might have to play around with this a bit. Thanks for the wonderful tip.
Laura posted on 12/10/2012 1:25 PM
This is a great tip! I can see many applications for this type of notification. Thanks for sharing.
Terry posted on 12/10/2012 1:28 PM
I had to try this one right away. I used my Google email account and I didn't even have to enter my email address or confirm the creation of the alert. There are several things I search for constantly, now I will only have to check my email.
Jim posted on 12/10/2012 1:34 PM
I use alerts a lot, but the article reminded me that I can never remember where exactly to go to set them up. So I created a bookmark to and stored it in my "Tools" bookmark folder which contains links to many such handy sites. So I'll always have my "Tools" collection at my fingertips, I place the folder in the menu bar of my internet browser. Since I have multiple e-mail addresses, I also need to be careful to remember to have Google send my "work" alerts to my "work" address and my personal alerts to my "home" address.
Nina posted on 12/11/2012 11:34 AM
What a neat idea!! I had no idea one could set up alerts in Google. Thanks for sharing. Will definitely use it.
Angela posted on 12/12/2012 9:57 AM
This is a very helpful and time-saving tip. Thanks for sharing it!