This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series How to stay on top of the literature in 2020

How to stay on top of the literature in 2020 – Part 2

Thumbnails - How to stay on top of the literature in 2020 - Take advantage of the journals

Last week we covered how you can use your network at your advantage to find the latest research in your field. This week, we will see how we can scrap the same piece of information from scientific journals. Let’s dive in!

Use the journals themselves

A. Create Content email alerts or subscribe to Journal newsletters

The same way as not every journals would be potential places to publish your research, where you would fit your research is also where you would read most scientific news in your field. Once you’ve established the list of journals you absolutely need to follow (in my field, among others Nature, Ecology, Ecology Letters, Oikos…) you can subscribe to their Newsletters. If you are accessing a journal published at Wiley, via their online library such as here, it is named “Get Content Alerts” as shown on figure 3. On ScienceDirect (the website of their competitors Elsevier), “Sign in to set up alerts”, see Figure 4.
Ocean Fact - Study Hacks - Figure 3 - How to set up the Content alerts for a journal published in Wiley

Figure 3 – How to set up the Content alerts for a journal published in Wiley

Some journals may have their own website where you can subscribe to their newsletters but the most efficient way might be Elsevier and Wiley’s websites. You will receive the list of recently published articles straight into your emails. Isn’t it great?! Though a good way to get the newest research easily, you can easily get submerged by tons of emails. So make sure to apply a set of rules to those arriving emails to make sure they all end up in a specific folder and not in your main mailbox. If you do not know how to setup rules on your email manager, you can always leave a comment and I will try to help. With a set of rules sending those emails to one single folder, you can decide to review them every once in a while (but don’t wait too long! They can pile up real quick).

Ocean Fact - Study Hacks - Figure 4 - How to set up the Content alerts for a journal published in Elsevier on Science Direct or where to find their RSS

Figure 4 – How to set up the Content alerts for a journal published in Elsevier on Science Direct or where to find their RSS (we will see that in section C.)

B. Again you can use social medias and Journal Facebook pages or Twitter accounts

Ocean Fact - Study Hacks - Figure 5 - The twitter and facebook feeds on the blog website of Ecography

Figure 5 – The twitter and facebook feeds on the blog website of Ecography

Journals and their “recent articles” pages (for instance, the recent articles page of Ecography, the journal where I published my latest research) is a good place to catch the latest news. Don’t worry! Once setup, you won’t need to scroll each journals’ website one by one. I got your back.

First, if you have a Twitter account, most journals nowadays have a Twitter where they dedicate one tweet to each new articles as you can see on the feed of Ecography, sometimes even a facebook page (Figure 5). If you use the List tool I mentioned in the previous article, you can create lists related to different topics and find recently published articles of different journals in one place (Figure 1 here). But if those ways are efficient, the most efficient to pull all articles in one place might be to use RSS fluxes!

C. Scrap internet with RSS fluxes

RSS fluxes (short for Really Simple Syndication) are the summary of a news feed. They come in a specific format, the XML, that you won’t be able to read without an RSS reader.  I personally use and recommend Feedly. I will talk more about Feedly in another as you will see RSS might become handy in more than just getting the latest articles. Luckily, almost every websites share RSS. Most journals even share them openly on their website. If you check Figure 4, you will see that Science Direct has a link dedicated to RSS, and even RSS dedicated to Open Access articles. If you click on the link, you might be redirected to a page that does not look like much, full of lines of code: an XML file. If you get there, just copy the url to that page. We will insert it in Feedly. Wiley does not seem to promote their RSS but no worries, they are still there. When you are on the page of a journal, copy the URL associated to the page. Feedly will be able to retrieve the right piece of information.
Ocean Fact - Study Hacks - Figure 6 - How to setup Feedly for catching Journals’ RSS fluxes
Figure 6 – How to setup Feedly for catching Journals’ RSS fluxes
Step 1 – Open the source page
Step 2 – Add a source
Step 3 – Subscribe
You do not need to install Feedly as it is available as a browser version but it is easier to use with a computer or as an app on your phone. Feedly sync between your devices and the cloud.
To add a new source of content (i.e. an RSS flux), click on the big plus symbol and insert one of the URLs we copied earlier (or search by keywords if you are not searching for the RSS of a website in particular, great to find related content). Feedly will scroll the internet and find the right feed. What is left to do is to subscribe to the feed and categorize the source with tags or larger categories as shown on Figure 6. Yes, I have many categories. I use Feedly a lot.
That’s all! Feedly will regularly search for the newest articles and you can review them journals by journals or all together in one of the categories. You can ascribe journals or websites to several categories in order to make relevant folders (for instance: “Few journals to follow” and category “Ecology”). RSS are a simple way to get latest articles: they will retrieve every new articles published in a journal without distinction. With the free version of Feedly, you will not be able to search your feeds by keywords and you will have to scroll every titles to sort the mess. I must say, it is worth paying $6 to $12 a month to access their powerful search engine. However, if you do not want to pay, there is still the last solution to retrieve articles more precisely. See you next week!

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Author of this blog post.

  • Pierre Olivier

  • Ph.D. Student

  • Founder of Ocean Fact

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