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Current Awareness

Stay up-to-date on newly published research by taking advantage of the database RSS feeds. See our instructions blow to learn more about setting up RSS feeds. 

RSS Feeds  rssicon

RSS, or Really Simple Syndication, is a way to keep current on websites that have frequently updated content. You can watch this video to learn more. RSS feeds are available for news sites including specific sections such as breaking news or strange news (e.g. Reuters, The Associated Press and The Chronicle of Higher Education). In general, just look for the orange RSS symbol, as seen above, and click on it for the feed URL you can paste into the "Add Feeds" section of your feed reader.

Databases and RSS

The latest developments in RSS include academic databases that allow users to create RSS feeds for specific searches. For example, in EBSCO databases, when you are finished with your search, look for the orange symbol and "Create alert for this search." A pop-up window will provide you with the "Syndication feed" URL that you can copy and paste into your feed reader. Many databases now include this feature, check to see if your favorite database offers RSS feeds. Here are a few to get you started: ScienceDirect, Academic OneFile and ProQuest Digital Dissertations. Keep in mind that once you set up a search alert, your aggregator will only show *new* articles that have been added to the database. If you are having trouble, Ask a Librarian.

RSS Feed Readers

In order to utilize RSS you'll need an RSS feed reader, also commonly called an aggregator. With the retirement of Google Reader in 2013, many people have switched to other readers including:  Feedly, The Old Reader, CommaFeed (open source), Bloglines and  Digg Reader.  The  RSS Reader guide offers a comparison of top readers.  You may also be interested in reading feeds on your smartphone or tablet.  Some apps, that are more magazine-like but allow you to subscribe to feeds, include: Feedly, Flipboard, Zite, and Google Currents. 
Once you choose the one to suit your needs, start adding feeds. Here's a few to get you started:
Wired News, Slashdot, Quotes of the Day and Lifehacker.

Social Bookmarking

Social bookmarking sites facilitate word-of-mouth recommendations among colleagues by allowing users to save references and bookmarks to an online account, which may be shared with others. These bookmarks are organized using informal tags created by the user, which in turn can be searched and browsed, much like subject headings. Popular social bookmarking sites include Delicious, Digg, and Reddit. For academically-focused social bookmarking services, try  Bibsonomy, CiteULike, or  Mendeley.

Conference Listings

Conference papers are often the only record of new, important research developments, but they are not always published right away. Even if you are unable to attend a conference, you may still keep current by browsing for speakers and their presentations in conference listings. Atlas Conferences and Conference Alerts provide comprehensive listings of conferences in an array of fields, while the ACM Calendar of Events is an excellent source for finding conferences related to the computing sciences and professions. To find published conference papers, see our guide on How to Find Conference Proceedings.


Microblogging tools, such as Twitter, allow you to stay current by aggregating short, mobile-accessible updates from different places onto one page. Though Twitter is known primarily for helping people keep up-to-date on family or friends, you can also use twitter to follow news, including uncensored information on developments in other countries, or happenings within institutions, organizations, and professional associations (Example: American Library Association News). Twitter uses hashtags, similar to social bookmarking tags, which allow users to search or browse for "tweets" on trending topics. Hashtags are often designated at conferences for users to post and read comments and updates on conference events, in real time.

Another blogging tool, like Tumblr, also allows you to keep up with current happenings.  Not only can you follow and re-blog various blogs, which often favor short posts or animated gif images, but you can also track hash tags that you are interested in.  These tags help illustrate trending topics or assist in gathering information on a topic of your interest (Example: #tech).  Much like Twitter, your Tumblr dashboard will keep you up to date with news, developments in other countries, happenings within institutions, organizations, and professional associations (Example:  American Library Association Washington Dispatch).  

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