RSS is the most convenient way to receive Table of Contents (TOC) alerts. All of the TOC alerts for each journal are gathered into one place. See How to receive alerts for details.
Email can also be used to receive TOC Alerts, but it tends to clutter up one's in-box. It can be difficult to tell which TOCs have been viewed. See How to receive alerts for details
Alerts, particlularly Table of Contents (TOC) alerts, are the killer application for academic researchers that makes RSS must have technology. If you don't anything about RSS, do not let that put you off -- it should take less than an hour to put it into practice. An RSS reader allows you to view, add, delete, rename (when needed), and organize RSS feeds for TOC alerts, search alerts, and citation alerts. An RSS reader can be the one place you need go to keep up with the literature.
Advice on RSS feeds
There are several ways to get RSS feed into an RSS reader. Probably the most straightforward way is to find or create an "RSS link" for the search or the table of contents. Simply paste the link into your RSS reader.
Wherever you see an RSS icon, or the words "RSS feed", it should be possible to create an RSS link.
It is a rare journal publisher that does not provide an RSS feed link to each of its journals.
See the Search Alerts tab for suggestions on how to create Search Alerts in PubMed, SciFinder, and Ebsco, Ovid, and CSA databases.
It is easy to remove an RSS feed from an RSS reader. It is much easier to remove an RSS feed than it is to unsubscribe to an automated email alert which alert is likely to require password access to the account in which the email alert was created.
RSS readers allow one to rename the name of the RSS link. Some publishers create long names that start with their global name and end with the more useful name of the journal or the name you gave the search.
Email is another way to receive alerts. Alerts are sent on a regular schedule --- usually weeklyl. The entire content of the alert may be contained in the email or it may simply provide a link to the content. the major drawback is that every new journal issue or search alert update means another email. Keeping track of alerts by email can be awkward. The main advantage of email delivery is that search alerts in a few databases are a little easier to set up than an RSS feed.