Many databases enable you to set up a search to be run for you automatically. For example, if you want to see any new case mentioning "Myriad Genetics," you could run a search in an online service (e.g., Bloomberg Law, LexisNexis, or Westlaw), then create an alert to run the search periodically (e.g., once a day) and email results to you.
You can subscribe to a newsletter or a blog produced by someone who will choose the important stories in an area. For instance, if you subscribe to Electronic Commerce & Law Report from Bloomberg BNA, you will see the stories that BNA reporters write and BNA editors select. If you follow the, you will read about the cases and news items that the blog's author, , chooses to write about.
Pros and Cons
Each approach has advantages and disadvantages.
The answer? Use more than one approach.
graphic: drawing of an English Pointer from Woodland Wild: A Selection of Descriptive Poetry (1868), available in British Library's photostream on Flickr
Push technology sends you updates automatically ("pushing" them into your email inbox). Pull technology requires you to go and look for something—for instance, when you look to see whether any new announcements are posted on the website of an organization you follow. Each approach has advantages and disadvantages
Talk to your friends, classmates, and professors about your interests. That way, if they come across an article or news story that will be really helpful for you, they might let you know about it.
If nobody knows that you are passionately concerned about comparative approaches to privacy protection or poverty law or immigration reform, you won't get that friendly note telling you about a fascinating interview or impressive new book on the topic.
For your part, be a good colleague. If you read a news item, blog post, or journal article that relates to the paper your friend is working on, send a quick email message.
graphic: illustration from Round the World with General Grant (1879), available in British Library's photostream on Flickr
Managing the mass of information you get through alerts, blogs, and newsletters is a challenge.
Sometimes, you will want to skim and delete and update, because all you wanted was a general awareness of the news. Other times, you will want to be able to find and use the information later.
Suppose you get a lot of updates via email. It won't work simply to leave everything in your inbox. Moving it to a folder named "Interesting Stuff" also isn't efficient. Consider creating separate folders for the different topics you are following.
Some researchers find it helpful to save notes and documents to folders in their computer. Some people keep one or more documents with notes about resources (e.g., "Articles to read for planned paper on X").
You might want to use an app for organizing your notes and citations. A couple of tools to consider are Citation Management Software.and . See University Libraries guide on
graphic: photo of files by Doug Waldron, used under Creative Commons license