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Current Awareness

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A few tools can help you to stay up to date with news in your discipline: RSS feeds, alerts or the selective dissemination of information, and academic social networks.

The common idea between these different tools is the ability to subscribe to an online information source (a website), in order to stay informed automatically about news that corresponds to the criteria of your choice, by email or reading software.

Most documentary platforms (catalogues, databases, etc.) offer alerts based on categories, keywords or complete searches. These inform you about:

  • the table of contents in scientific periodicals (as soon as a new issue is released);
  • new bibliographical references related to a theme or a query;
  • new citations received by an author or an article, etc.

Online bibliographical reference-management and reference-sharing software also offers RSS integration.

An RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed is an information channel or feed that disseminates new information that has been published on a website, search tools, etc., whether general or themed. You simply have to subscribe to these feeds using so-called ‘RSS feed reading’ software to access the latest news.

In practice, an RSS feed can be identified via the Icône de flux RSS icon. You simply have to click on it to obtain the URL to enter into the feed reader to subscribe to it.

Alerts or SDI (selective dissemination of information) allow you to stay informed of news by email, by simply entering your email address and research topics on a portal or tool that offers this service.

In practice

Creating an alert

On most platforms and tools, it is very easy to create personalised alerts, either via email or via RSS feeds:

  • if you do not have one, simply create your personal account on the platform (‘My account’ menu or similar);
  • once you have logged in, the possible options will be displayed on your personal page: email alert or RSS feed, for one or more types of content. You simply need to create an alert by specifying a query in one of the databases selected. You can also do this in reverse: perform a search in the tool and then save this as an alert;
  • the list of new references that correspond to your search terms will be sent to you, according to your preferences or the tool’s capabilities, either periodically or when a new reference that corresponds to your criteria is entered in the tool. 

Reading and managing alerts

If you create alerts by email, they will go to your preferred inbox and you can categorise them or list them like your other emails. However, RSS feeds offer greater flexibility because they can be viewed and managed in different tools (‘RSS feed readers’ or ‘RSS readers’):

  • your email inbox (Mozilla thunderbird);
  • your web browser: Internet Explorer (version 7 or later), Firefox and Opera integrate RSS feed readers by default;
  • information aggregators (or ‘curation tools’), such as Netvibes, Scoop it, etc., offer a ‘dashboard’ with your different RSS feeds, which can be grouped together in themed tabs. Most of these tools also enable you to integrate different applications (search engines, email inboxes, calendars, etc.) to create a real virtual office.
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