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Are RSS feeds really simple?

2 Jun, 10 | by BMJ

Have you ever found yourself browsing the Internet and thinking that you’re spending too much time regularly visiting the same sites? What if there was a way to visit several sites at the same time? Well there is a way, sort of. Instead of you going to every site, you can have them come to you. How is this possible? This short introduction to RSS feeds will show you how.

RSS, short for Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary, is a term used for Internet information feeds. These feeds are delivered automatically to the user’s computer through a reader, often called an ‘aggregator’. Readers (such as Google Reader) are free and you may already have an RSS reader as part of your browser. Alternatively you can download a reader to use on your desktop. Once you have your RSS reader set up you simply find websites that offer a feed and subscribe to those you are interested in.

A feed is delivered whenever the site you are subscribed to makes a notification that an update has been made. In other words you can ‘read’ the ‘feed’ after it is sent out. These feeds make it easy to gather information from many different sources and have them automatically sent to one place – your feed reader. Once you have subscribed, the rest is automatic, which means you do not have to go to numerous sites to see if updates have been made.

So, how do we use RSS feeds on the journal sites?

Each of the journal websites contain a number of feeds which are listed on their RSS page. The available feeds include Online First, Current Issue, Recent Issues and Most Frequently Read. All of our Blogs and Podcasts also automatically generate RSS feeds which you can subscribe to by clicking on the RSS icon (see above). In addition to these individual feeds, we have recently updated our OPML file, which contains details of all journal RSS feeds and can be used to bulk import data into your RSS reader.

Perhaps the easiest way to access RSS feeds is via auto-discovery. The auto-discovery functionality will be visible in the form of an orange RSS icon in your address bar (if the website has enabled it).  By clicking on this  image you will be given a full list of the RSS feeds available on that particular site and the ability to subscribe to them (see screenshot above). All of the BMJ journals are fully up-to-date in terms of their auto-discovery functionality.

Tell us what you want!

Finally, please let us know which new RSS feeds would be most useful on the journal sites. Which articles would you like to have the chance to subscribe to? Perhaps you would like to receive updates from certain sections of a table of contents? For example, the Education in Heart section of each new issue of Heart? Please vote by clicking on the following link and leave any additional suggestions in the form of comments below. Many thanks!

Would an RSS feed for e-toc sections be useful?

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