Jeromy Anglim's Blog: Psychology and Statistics

Friday, April 16, 2010

Keeping up to date with journal articles using RSS feeds and Google Reader

If you're an academic researcher, it's important to keep up with the literature in your field. I've recently been thinking about the best way to do this. The following post discusses one aspect of my current strategy involving the use of Google Reader and RSS feeds of journals.


Rob Hyndman and the discussants on Meta Filter agree. RSS feeds are a great way to keep up with what is being published in journals. Journal RSS feeds allow me to receive notification of when new articles are published. Thus, I can then quickly scan the new articles when it's convenient. If I see an article I like, I can then access the full-text article from my university subscription.

Setting Up

Getting started involves getting: (1) An RSS Feed Reader and (2) Some RSS feeds.

Choosing an RSS Reader

I haven't compared and contrasted RSS readers, but I've liked Google Reader. It regularly incorporates new features. It's web-based and thus always accessible. And the interface is clean and functional.

Choosing Journals to follow

You probably already know which journals you like to read. However, I found the task of compiling RSS feeds in Google Reader a good opportunity to reflect. There were many journals that, while important in my field, I rarely read. Adding the RSS feed for such journals provided a way of keeping up to date with such journals. I like to follow the journals in my specific areas of interest as well as more general interest journals or journals that might give me a broader perspective.

Finding RSS Feeds

Locating RSS feeds is fairly straight forward. The basic steps:
1. Search Google for the journal name
2. Go to the publisher home page
3. Find an RSS link or perhaps the home page itself will be an RSS feed
4. Copy and paste the feed address into the "Add a Subscription" Box in Google Reader.
5. Optionally assign the journal to a group (e.g., "Journals") and optionally rename the feed.

Some journals make it difficult to find RSS feeds. For example some society journal home pages don't provide RSS whereas the publisher home page does.

Also, some RSS feeds are better than others. Bad RSS feeds:
  • require a login in order to access the RSS feed,
  • provide no abstract, or
  • are only a link to the issue without individual posts for each article.
Anyway, perhaps if we let these publishers know that this is counterproductive, they will change.

After going through the process, I found the following tips useful.
  • Springer Journals: Just add the home page of the journal on SpringerLink. E.g., provides both the home page and the RSS page for Psychomerika
  • Anything in Science Direct: Just use the journal home page. Several publishers redistribute through Science Direct (e.g., Elsevier). For example provides a home page and RSS for Cognitive Psychology.
  • Wiley Journals have good RSS support
  • APA journals have a dedicated page
  • PubMed allows for the creation of RSS feeds based on custom search. This is useful if the journal is listed and there is no built-in support for RSS.

End Result

The end result is shown in Figure 1. It's a work in progress as I find journals that I want to follow or decide that a journal I was following perhaps isn't worth the bother. Figure 1. Partial screen shot of Google Reader showing Categorised Journal RSS feeds.

1 comment:

  1. If you're looking for an alternative RSS Reader/Aggregator now that Google Reader is closing, but one that is science-focused, consider checking out Bibliogo (

    Here's a link to a recent blog post entitled 'Goodbye Google Reader. Hello Bibliogo.'