What on earth is RSS: and why you should, and how you can, get a blog reader

What is RSS?

RSS stands for 'Really Simple Syndication' or 'Rich Site Summary'. RSS lets you choose to receive content from a number of websites and read it in one place (websites push content - or 'feed' it - out to you) rather than you visiting each website.

What can an RSS Feed Reader do for me?
  • Save you a lot of time and keep you up to date with news and research in your subject area

  • It’s separate from your email, so won’t bombard you with extra mail

  • Puts you in charge - you decide when you want to view the content - once or twice a week is enough to keep up to date

What ‘news’ can I subscribe to?

  • Tables of Contents for your favourite journals via Zetoc: you will need your Athens password to set these up, after that they will automatically feed into your account

  • Database searches:, such as PubMed - set up a search on PubMed, select ‘send to RSS’, the information will pop into your reader. Then every time an article is added to PubMed with those search terms it will automatically feed into your feed reader

  • News from these sites (and many others)

    National Library for Health

    BBC Health

    NHS Behind the Headlines

For example, see the end of our blog; it has automatic updates from several health news feeds

How do I get a feed reader?

To use RSS, you will need a feed reader. We recommend a web based product, you will be able to access this from wherever you are on the web. They are very easy to use.

Depending on your choice, you can then subscribe to the content in various ways, such as dragging the URL of the RSS feed into your news reader or by cutting and pasting the URL into a feed reader.

We recommend:

Google’s Reader: http://www.google.com/reader

For help with this see:

Ask’s Bloglines:

There is a useful tutorial on how to use Bloglines (with kind permission from the University of California Library, Santa Cruz website):

But there are many more – an Internet search on ‘RSS readers’ will provide you with more options.

If you have any questions, or you if you would like further help, please contact
Caroline Cooke.

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