PubMed + RSS for following specific authors

Published: May 26, 2018   |   Updated: August 29, 2018   |   Read time:


Part of staying updated on literature relevant to your work means identifying current leaders in your (sub)field and reading the work they publish. This can help give a sense of what the field is interested in, what the bleeding edge is, and what interesting questions you can ask to branch off of their work.

To do this, you need to stay on top of what these individuals and their labs publish. There are a number of new tools coming out to deal with this, such as Meta1, Recommended2, Microsoft Academic3, and Mendeley4. These tools tend to be good for content and topic aggregation, but not so good at following specific authors. If you work in the more biological sciences, PubMed is an excellent resource to use for this, and many other purposes.

So here’s a quick tip about using PubMed’s RSS feature to stay on top of literature from specific authors.

PubMed + RSS

When you search for authors on PubMed, underneath the search box there’s an option for “Create RSS”.

Author search Creating RSS XML feed Copying RSS link

This creates an RSS feed on PubMed’s servers that gets automatically updated when new articles are added to its database.

By using your favourite RSS aggregator, say Feedly5 for example, you can then be automatically updated when that author publishes new material

Pasting link into Feedly New author feed

And that’s all there is to it.

A small note worth mentioning is that this method isn’t as immediate as other methods, like Twitter or author alerts directly from a journal, since articles must be indexed by PubMed before they get added to the feed.

Overall, I hope this is a helpful and simple way for users who like using RSS feeds to manage their content intake.

Update: 2018-08-29

I’ve recently switched over to Zotero6 as my reference manager from Mendeley and have discovered that you can add RSS feeds to your library. I’ve tested out this RSS manager with my PubMed feeds, and it appears to be working just as well as Feedly for this purpose. To completely make the transition from Feedly to Zotero for my list of followed authors, I exported my Feedly list OPML file, edited to to only include my PubMed feeds, then imported that OPML into Zotero via New Library Toolbar > New Feed > From OPML.

References & Footnotes