How many people out of you, life scientists, are regularly updating their PubMed searches through RSS feeds? According to the Read/Write Read Blog 2006 Web Technology Trends “While 2006 can’t be seen as the breakthrough year for RSS in the mainstream, we will probably see RSS bloom in 2007”. It’s January, 2007, so let’s upgrade a little bit.
PubMed is despite all its problems and oldschoolness is the major information source of peer review articles in the field of life sciences. You can make it a little more fresher if you create and save your PubMed searches as RSS feeds. With that users can retrieve new items of their saved PubMed searches since the last time they were connected to their RSS reader. There are numerous RSS readers to choose from, many available for free: Google Reader, NetNewsWire Lite, even web browsers, like Safari, Firefox have built-in readers. Here is the text&screenshot tale of how to activate this useful option:
1. Run a search in PubMed. Say you’re hungry for the novel articles and reviews to the search term “skeletal muscle stem cells” (as I am now), because you are writing an article draft.
2. Choose RSS Feed from the Send to pull-down menu in order to create a feed for that concrete search.
3. Click Create Feed. On the RSS Feed Page you may edit the name of the feed and limit the number of items to be displayed. If the number of citations retrieved is greater than your “limit” number you will have the option to link to PubMed to display the entire retrieval.
4. Click the XML icon to display the XML code. RSS formats are specified in XML (a generic specification for data formats). RSS delivers its information as an XML file called an “RSS feed”.
5. Copy and paste the URL (take care, it will be long and ugly) into the subscribe form in your RSS reader (here it is Google Reader). Web browsers and RSS readers may use different options to copy the feed.
6. From now on, you can see the new articles with your Reader, there is no need to type the search term again. Of course you have to create more feeds to cover all the issues you are interested in, for instance “satellite cell”, “muscle regeneration” are the complementers of “skeletal muscle stem cells”. If you have an iPod you can even download the feeds into your iPod as notes with a proper App, but that is another story.