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7.6 Keeping up-to-date using RSS feeds

RSS feeds can be set up to keep you up-to-date with the latest content from journals that you regularly check or newly published book titles, with website information for those you frequently visit, or with blog posts. Subscribing to RSS feeds allows you to receive updates directly from websites without having to visit them yourself – and also saves time by providing all the updates you want in one place. You can subscribe directly by adding RSS URLs (web addresses) into your browser or through an RSS feed reader (also known as a news reader or aggregator).

The process of setting up a news feed (RSS) is straightforward, but will depend on the browser you use. For example, Internet Explorer asks you to ‘subscribe to this feed’, and gives you the option of adding links to news feeds directly to the ‘Favourites’ bar. Mozilla Firefox asks you to ‘subscribe now’, and gives you the option of using ‘Live bookmarks’ to place a link to news feeds on the top screen as the default option.

The benefits of RSS feeds include:

  • automatic updates with new information from subscribed sites
  • they save time by providing your updates in one place
  • you do not need to register on many different websites
  • your email will not be overloaded.

But they can have drawbacks, such as:

  • they can be time-consuming to set up
  • you need to remember to check updates
  • it is easy to get carried away and subscribe to more information than is manageable
  • the page you want to keep up-to-date with may not have an RSS feed.

So while setting up RSS feeds can save you time, you will still need to remember to check your feed reader and add or delete any RSS feeds, as well as reading the relevant feeds. If an RSS feed is not available, you will need to consider a different method for keeping up-to-date (see Section 7.5).

Box 1 Finding RSS feeds

Start by checking for RSS feeds on websites that you visit frequently. However, not every website will have feeds. Most news sites have feeds, and so do blogs. Journals often have feeds, so you can find out when a new issue is published and be able to see the latest content in the feed. Some databases offer saved search feeds. You can also use the following websites to help you locate relevant RSS feeds:

RSSMicro [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]