What is RSS?
For the non-initiate, RSS is a very useful protocol that is used all over the web. You can think of it as a way of separating a stream of content from the website where it’s normally viewed. Nearly every blog has an RSS feed, as do news sources, web comics, and even academic journals. Podcasts are like a specialised version of RSS for audio files only.
What makes RSS great is that I can take all the RSS links from all the news sites, blogs, webcomics and journals that I’m interested in and put them together into a single aggregator (I use Feedly). In this way, I don’t have to be constantly checking all these websites to see if there’s new stuff posted.
But what about medical journals that don’t provide RSS?
Unfortunately, there are some medical journals that do not have an RSS feed. For example, the JNCI (the Journal of the National Cancer Institute) does not have one. (If I’m wrong, please put the link in the comments.) So if I want to know what’s been published recently in the JNCI, I have to visit their site, or look on their Twitter. This is annoying, since the whole point of RSS is to have all the content you want to consume (or as much of it as possible) in the same place.
Pubmed allows users to save any search as RSS feeds
Pubmed provides a wonderful and open, standards-compliant service, but almost no one seems to know about it! This is great for people who are actively researching a subject, and also for people who just want to keep up with a particular journal or subject area.
Some of you have probably figured out where I’m going with this by now, but if you haven’t, I’ll spell it out. Let’s continue with the example of JNCI.
How to put new articles from any journal into Feedly
This assumes you already have an account on Feedly, but you can do this with any RSS reader, of course.
- Visit Pubmed in your browser
- Click “Advanced” under the search field
- Under “Builder,” click “All fields” and choose “Journal”
- In the text field beside the box where you selected “Journal,” enter the name of the journal you’re interested in (it will autocomplete, if you have done this correctly, you should see something like “Journal of the National Cancer Institute”[Journal] in the uneditable text field at the top)
- Click “Search”
- Under the search field at the top of the page, click the “Create RSS” link
- Choose how far back you want your search to go (I chose 20)
- Click the “Create RSS” button
- Right-click the orange “XML” button and click “Copy link”
- Go to Feedly, and paste the link into the “Search” field at the top right
- There should be one result, click “Follow” and choose which collection you want to keep it in
You’re done! Now whenever Pubmed indexes a new entry for that journal, it will appear in your RSS reader!
You can also make RSS feeds for any search you want on Pubmed
Of course, you may not be interested in everything a journal has to say, so you can refine the search to only include “breast cancer” or you can drop the journal identity part of the search entirely. The world is your oyster!