A brief tip on two tools I use to keep up with contemporary scholarly research, RSS feeds from peer reviewed publications, and google scholar alerts.
RSS feeds are a really awesome way to aggregate information into easily readable short clips. And using RSS feeds has greatly improved the amount of information I consume on a regular basis.
Most peer-reviewed publications I am interested in have RSS feeds for the current issue and online first articles, and they post the title, abstract and authors for every feed. One of the nice things about this is that publications publish infrequently enough that they aren’t particularly bothersome, and so I have a huge list of publications I follow and peruse the titles/abstracts. Also because I use google reader as my feed reader, I have a custom “sendto” button to send the article directly to my citeulike library to read later if I’m interested.
I also use google scholar alerts to send me emails when new articles appear under specific search terms. For instance I have a search for “journey to crime”, and I believe I get an update for a new article on average every two weeks. I suspect if you use more general search terms it would be more bothersome with updates, but if that is the case it would be better to refine your search terms to be more specific anyway.
I previously used this tool to keep up to date on some authors whose work I’m generally interested in, but Rob Hyndman mentions that a new option is signing up for email alerts directly from an individual scholar’s profile page (which is a fairly new addition I believe). I even see I can sign up for alerts for articles that cite my own (meager) list of publications so far.
These two tools, RSS feeds and google scholar alerts, have greatly aided me to be aware of contemporary research. In particular RSS feeds have really expanded my awareness of fields outside of criminology/criminal justice that I do not read articles from as frequently.
Some other tools that I use, but the breadth of information is not quite as large as RSS feeds or google scholar alerts (but are worth an honorable mention are);
- citeulike watch lists, groups, connections & watched tag lists. I would guess similar networking tools are available in Mendeley
- Public repositories of working papers, such as SSRN, NBER, arXIV. Unfortunately these popular ones don’t have any categories that really conform to my field, but it appears a new program called Academia.edu allows to post working papers. For an example see my friends, Kelly Socia’s profile.