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ENG W230: Writing in the Sciences

This is a course guide for all sections of English W230.

Staying Current in Your Field

Scientists and science professionals have to stay up-to-date with the literature that gets published in their field. As the textbook, Writing in the Sciences: Exploring Conventions of Scientific Discourse, suggests, sharing information through publishing is central to a scientist's work. In fact, the text points out "the credit for a scientific discovery is awarded not to the scientist who discovers a phenomenon but to the scientist who publishes its discovery first" (Penrose and Katz, 10). This suggests that you should use all the tools available to stay on top of new information.

Below are some of the main ways scientists "stay current."


Infographic on ways scientists stay current in their field

Setting up Alerts

Many databases include an alert feature that you can set up for various criteria. The alert can be for a citation, author, table of contents (TOC), or general topic of interest. The database will automatically be searched for the latest records matching your criteria. Then, the database will send you updated results by e-mail or RSS feed. 

Different databases will have different procedures for setting up search alerts, but the process is more or less the same. Set up alerts by following these general steps: 

  1. Search using search terms and filters;

  2. Save the search as an alert; then

  3. Give your alert a name and select frequency and/or method of delivery (e.g. email alert).

For more help, click the links below or look for the "Help" menu in your database.