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Keeping Current in your Field

This guide was created to keep you up-to-date with research information

What is RSS?

RSS  stands for "Really Simple Syndication" or "Rich Site Summary". It is a way of getting regularly updated content (e.g. news headlines, blog entries, podcasts, table of contents of online publications) on web sites.

Typically, an RSS feed contains a list of latest available headlines, summaries of the articles and links pointing back to the full articles. By subscribing to RSS feeds published by your favorite web sites, you can keep track of updates of their contents without the need for visiting the web sites one by one.

This page about RSS is based on materials created by Cornell University Library.

How to use RSS?

Step 1: Sign up for a feed reader/aggregator

You need a software called "feed reader" or "feed aggregator" to regularly and automatically check for new contents in RSS feeds and download them for you. There are many RSS readers available. Some are desktop software. Some are built-in to browsers. Some are web-based. Many of them are free.

These are directories or lists of RSS tools to explore: Top 7 free RSS readers | 12 best RSS reader Apps | About.com 

Step 2: Subscribe to and read feeds

With the feed reader, you can then add or subscribe to feeds and read them.

You may refer to the Help pages for individual RSS readers for detailed steps on how to subscribe and view RSS feeds.

How to find feeds?

Many sites display a small icon to show that a feed is available. Look for these icons:      

Some sites have feeds but may not make them easy to find. Here are some tips to locate these feeds:

  • Try to search that site plus rss using search engine. (e.g. In Google, search  site:gov.hk rss  or  site:cityu.edu.hk rss); or
  • On the home page of a site, try to search rss using Find on this Page (e.g. Find "rss" on the "South China Morning Post" home page to find the link to access the RSS page)

The "Library updates", "New books", "New journal articles", "New websites & events" & "Latest news" pages of this guide suggest some useful websites with RSS feeds available for you to add to your feed readers.

How to add feeds?

There is no standard for how to add or subscribe to RSS feeds, but there are roughly two ways to add a feed:

  1. Enter the URL of the RSS feed into your reader or aggregator.
    • You can copy the URL and paste it into your reader; or
    • Right-click on the "Subscribe to this feed" link and from the popped-up menu, select "Copy Shortcut" for IE or "Copy Link Location" for Firefox. Then paste the URL into your reader.

     

  2. Follow a "subscribe" link from the web page to automatically add a feed to your reader.However, practically every feed reader has a different way of doing this.
    • If you are using IE with a built-in reader, following a "Subscribe to this feed" link will add a feed to your IE Favorites Center.
    • Some websites provide the feature to automatically add a feed's URL into commonly used RSS readers. If you are using one of these RSS readers, simply click on the icon and follow the steps to add the feed to your RSS reader.

What can you get with RSS?

You can get various types of web contents via RSS:

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News of all kinds
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Academic blogs, blog posts
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News and announcements from professional organizations
(e.g. Association of International Accountants), universities (e.g. CityU), libraries (e.g. CityU Library), and more
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Saved searches in databases
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Table of Contents from journals & newspapers (via article databases or publishers' websites)