Turn It On: Current Awareness Tools

It’s always difficult to find the time to read all the research in your field, let alone time for the kind of serendipitous dabbling in other fields that may spark a novel idea or new research direction. And at a rate of two to three hundred newly published articles a day between our seven different journals, PLOS is publishing quite the stream of new research.

Keeping up with this volume of articles is daunting, if nigh impossible. And many of the traditional awareness mechanisms–like an eTOC (or electronic Table of Contents) for an entire journal delivered to your inbox–are simply inadequate if you’re trying to stay abreast of a journal that publishes research articles from all scientific disciplines, like PLOS ONE.

That’s why we’ve expanded our suite of current awareness tools to meet your particular needs and discovery preferences, including:

  1. eTOCs customizable by subject area – a weekly collection of new PLOS ONE content to skim, read, and study based on subject areas as narrow or broad as you want.
  2. Saved Search alerts – automatic notifications to alert you to newly published articles that fit your queries. Use all the power of search (simple and advanced) to create custom queries that precisely fit your needs and save them so that new content will automatically be delivered to your inbox on a weekly basis.
  3. eTOCs – a weekly list of all newly published articles for each journal.
  4. RSS feeds – real-time pipelines of newly published content fed into your preferred delivery mechanism. You can customize RSS feeds based on search results, subject areas, and ALMs.

The first three tools offer different ways you can get content delivered directly to your inbox. The fourth tool, RSS feeds, contain all the same functionality to select content using our powerful search tools, but also offer the flexibility to specify the delivery platform that best fits your workflow. Just hook your favorite PLOS RSS feeds directly into your preferred feed reader (Flipboard, Feedly, Skimr, etc.).

The fun doesn’t stop there. IFTTT is a new service, short for “if this then that,” that makes it easy to hook one online service up to another. IFTTT allows you to cook up recipes made up of triggers and actions. For example, you can set any RSS feed (a trigger) to perform an action, like sending a text message, updating your calendar, or placing a phone call whenever new content is piped into the feed. Other actions include saving content to Evernote or Instapaper, or posting content to Twitter, Facebook, or Blogger. You can even set a recipe to turn on a neon sign every time a new article is published via the WeMo Switch (no kidding!). IFTTT is endlessly customizable, allowing you to finely tailor new content alerts to your research workflows.




Explore, have fun, and be safe.  Let us know if you have adopted any of these tools.  We would love to hear stories about what works best for you.


Image credit: Jonas Dupuich and Patrick Polischuk
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