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Current Awareness Tools - RSS & Beyond : What is Current Awareness?

What's in This Guide?

The resources on this page are either open to everyone or available via subscription at UW-Madison. Journal tables of contents are the most popular current awareness tool - if you want help finding or using RSS feeds for our journals please contact us.

We also teach classes in RSS & Current Awareness Tools and offer a Current Awareness service to help with finding or setting up resources. Feel free to contact us to set up an individual consultation or special class session for your group whether the class is offered or not.



BrowZine, an app for iPads and Android tablets, is available for use by UW-Madison faculty, staff and students. BrowZine lets you browse, read, and monitor many of our licensed scholarly journals on your tablet. Some of the publishers include American Chemical Society, Project MUSE, Oxford, SAGE, Springer, etc. It doesn't currently support each title we subscribe to but it does cover the overwhelming majority of them.

For more information see our BrowZine information page.

Keeping Up With the Literature

Keeping up with the scholarly literature in your field is still the main way people stay on top of things. But what if you're multi-disciplinary? What if you're in a very large field? Here are a few strategies that can help:

  • Get journal tables of contents via email or RSS feeds for your top journals - make them come to you
  • Get easy access to other journals you may like but aren't in your "top tier" - email or RSS feeds work well here too
  • Have canned searches across the literature (like from PubMed) delivered to you regularly so you can scan across titles
  • Create a (legal) personal library or article citation list to refer back to quickly as needed
  • Follow what your colleagues are reading and talking about (see below)

Keeping Up With Your Colleagues

There are many non-literature sources to help you keep up to date in your field, as well as literature-based ones you may not be aware of. Some ideas for these include:

  • Blogs and other social media sites: LinkedIn is a good example of a more professionally oriented place for discussions. See our Blogs section for more ideas.
  • Social media sites for scholars: citation management and personal research or library tool applications like Mendeley, Papers and Zotero all have web-based social components that feature discussion groups, metrics for articles being read and published, etc. There are sites such as ResearchGate and Faculty of 1000 which focus on research literature and discussions. The sites are divided into specific disciplines or specialties to focus and filter their resources.
  • Videos and podcasts: Prevalent in some fields, these resources have the added bonus of being something you can do efficiently in different environments such as commuting, exercising, etc. See our Videos and Podcasts section for ideas.

What's Happening Right Now?

Sometimes you really want to know what's happening right now, this instant, as it relates to your field. Some ideas:

  • Check news sites devoted to your discipline, or even general health news sites. See our News section for some ideas.
  • Check social media sites like Twitter doing a general search or by monitoring specific hashtags. It may seem to have a bad signal to noise ratio but you'd be surprised how useful it can be when looking for specific ideas. The Healthcare Hashtag Project aims to pull together some useful tags for healthcare professionals.