Home Home
contact | search | site map

A New Type of Subscription to GCA

RSS feeds and Geochimica

From submitting manuscripts through the GCA Editorial Office's online manuscript submission system to finding PDFs of over ten years of GCA's back catalog, it is now possible for today's geochemists to get all of GCA's content without receiving a hard copy. Not to say this is preferred, but it is a decision geochemists are making more and more every year. The web provides fast access to virtually any manuscript through simple searches in online databases which now index many papers even before they appear in print—features that hard copies simply cannot compete with.

For most active members in the Geochemical Society, bimonthly issues of GCA in their mailbox serve as nice reminders to scan through the most recent articles and, if necessary, dive into a relevant manuscript. Without a hard copy, however, the onus is on the reader to remember to go to the journal's website and search through the newest issue, in press manuscripts, back issues, etc. With countless other job pressures, it is very easy to neglect this task and fall behind on new content in GCA without these reminders. One attractive option for many readers of GCA to stay afloat of new content is to subscribe to free email alerts through ScienceDirect for each new issue's table of contents. Unfortunately, these email alerts can just as likely get buried below several other more pressing emails until they start getting ignored by default.

Luckily, there is another free ‘subscription' option becoming very popular that allows readers to stay current with the newest online content in GCA (and many other major websites) that you may not yet be aware of. This relatively new service is called RSS (Really Simple Syndication). Chances are you might know a little about it already but don't realize it. For example, have you ever wondered about a weird little orange or blue colored symbol that occasionally appears in your internet browser's address bar?

RSS1:

That symbol means that the website you are visiting provides the option to ‘subscribe' to it through RSS. Using your preferred RSS reader (e.g. Google Reader), you get notified every time something new is added to the website you are subscribed to. Subscribing to podcasts uses essentially the same technology; every time a new podcast is available, it gets delivered to your computer.

With this type of subscription, you never have to remember to check out the new issue of GCA online, search Web of Science or GeoRef for new papers, or check for science in the news. It all comes to your RSS reader so you have all of your new content available in one location. If you make checking your RSS reader part of your daily browsing routine-along with checking the newspaper, your organization's website, or the GS homepage, it becomes incredibly easy to stay current with new online content from GCA as well as a wide range of other online sources including scientific journals, newspapers, blogs, press releases, etc.

Finding an RSS reader, or aggregator, for your operating system that you like is easy (for a list, see here) but virtually all are free and do the same thing. Most have their own website that you must check, but you can also use your email client (e.g. Outlook, Entourage, Thunderbird) to do the same thing. There are plenty of tutorials available online describing how to subscribe to a website's RSS feed (for a good introduction, watch this youtube video here), so I won't try and reinvent the wheel here. Instead, I thought I'd quickly run through how to subscribe specifically to the GCA RSS feed using Google Reader. Once you get that far, you'll be ready to subscribe to other websites and online scientific content come to you instead of seeking it out.

1) Finding RSS feeds on ScienceDirect
To find the subscription link to GCA, you need to have access to GCA's main page at ScienceDirect either with institutional access [Editor's note: apparently individual subscribers that access the journal through http://www.sciencedirect.com/gca do NOT have access to these feeds! We are working on resolving this issue with ScienceDirect. Thanks to Mark Williamson (TetraTech) for bringing this issue to our attention]. From that page, there should be a link towards the top of the page for RSS feeds—look for that little orange symbol again.

RSS2:

Once you click on that link, you will either see one of two things. Most commonly, you will be taken to a strangely formatted webpage (called .xml) with recent article names listed below.

RSS3:

This is a list of the new content that has been added to ScienceDirect's GCA page and is what your RSS Reader ‘reads' as new content. You will need to copy the URL in the address bar to paste into your RSS reader. Alternatively, you may see a new window with a link that you should copy and paste into your RSS reader (note, ScienceDirect has a link to a nice tutorial about RSS feeds on this page).

2) Adding the GCA feed to your RSS reader
Paste the link that you copied above into your reader. In Google Reader, which you sign into with the same Google account that you may already have set up for any other Google Services (Gmail, GoogleEarth, etc), the link is on the left side of the page and is titled ‘Add New Subscription.'

RSS4:

3) Checking your new feed
Once you are subscribed, you should be able to see all the content on the GCA page in one list starting with the newest on top. Each item is linked to the actual content on the ScienceDirect website so if you click on a paper's title, you will be redirected to the abstract and full-text options. In Google Reader, once you view an item in the list, it is marked as ‘read' and no longer listed in the unread items but is still archived away with all of the other old GCA content that you have viewed. You can search your archived RSS feeds for content that you want to find later.

RSS5:

Other relevant RSS feeds

As I alluded to earlier, many journals have the option to subscribe to their feed. Other ScienceDirect journals work the same way as GCA while RSS feeds of other journal publishers might be slightly different. Usually, you can just click the little orange symbol in the address bar to subscribe. Some publishers, notably AGU, unfortunately do not provide RSS feeds for their journals. Search engines are also getting in on the mix; Thompson Scientific's Web of Science← provides the ability to subscribe to your favorite searches (institutional access required) and get updated any time a new paper fits your search constraints. Geochemical News is currently in the process of providing an RSS feed to our online content too. Below are some links to other RSS feeds that may be useful to geochemists. For links to RSS feeds, copy and paste the link below into your reader.

Geochimica et Cosmochimica ActaRSS feed link
Goldschmidt 2009 UpdatesRSS feed link
Science MagazineRSS feed link
ACS JournalsList of feeds
Geochemical TransactionsRSS feed link
Nature Publishing GroupList of feeds
Proceed. Nat. Acad. Sci. U.S.A.
RSS feed link
Geology (journal)RSS feed link
EurkeaAlert Earth Science Press ReleasesRSS feed link
BBC Science & Nature NewsRSS feed link
NASA RSS feedsList of feeds
New York Times ScienceRSS feed link

The key to fully realizing the potential of RSS feeds is to make it part of your daily internet browsing. Once you do that, you'll have all the information you want in one location without having to go get it yourself. It will end up saving you a lot of time and energy trying to remember to get the information yourself, especially if you don't have that bimonthly hard copy in your mailbox as a reminder.

--NSW