howto: RSS feeds for academic use

November 13th, 2006 by jose

According to a definition wikipedia, RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication” and is “a simple XML-based system that allows users to subscribe to their favorite websites. Using RSS, webmasters can put their content into a standardized format, which can be viewed and organized through RSS-aware software or automatically conveyed as new content on another website.”


Basically, RSS pushes content to you, making it possible to be up-to-date in pages that change constantly. With RSS one saves the time of actually visiting the page and looking for changes, since we get an update only when there is one.Why is it important for academics? There are many uses of RSS in this context, but we will talk about two today

First, one thing that we academic check constantly is the table of contents of recent journals. Well, some (if not most) journals have an RSS feed that will serve the changes. Just go to the homepage of each of your favorite journals, and look for an RSS icon. Click on it, and the program that handles RSS in your computer (it could be your browser, or an specialized program; I like the free greatNews) will open the feed. Every now and then, that program will ping the site and download new content. If you do that for say 10 journals, you will save lots of time and be completely up-to-date.

Second, you can use RSS to maintain a group of people working together ’on-the-loop’. For example, you could post assignments and an entire classroom could be subscribed to the RSS feed. This way, you do not need to collect mail addresses for each student, and there is no risk of a SPAM filter intercepting your assignment.

In general, you can use RSS to subscribe to the sites you like. :-)

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3 Responses to “howto: RSS feeds for academic use”

  1. academic productivity » Online reference management (part 2): going social Says:

    [...] We already reviewed some potential uses of feeds for academic purposes (read more from shane and jose). In this article I focus on the use of flexible feeds in ORM tools as a strategy to discover recent and valuable references. Let us start from the basics. The most obvious use of feeds for ORM is to keep track of one’s own items. [...]

  2. PabloG » Blog Archive » links for 2007-05-03 Says:

    [...] howto: RSS feeds for academic use – Academic Productivity (tags: rss academic enseignement TOC journal veille) [...]

  3. George StadlerNo Gravatar Says:

    Students can get the most out of their RSS feeds by using Fwicki mashup tools to create one masterfeed from their favorite feeds. Fwicki also creates a customizable online RSS reader page.

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