How to Stay Up To Date on Research in Your Field



If you are in any research field and are currently working on a project, you’ll need to stay up to date on published research.  But how do you find the newly published research literature without doing manual search after manual search?  There are few different options.


Subscribe to the RSS feed of your search.

Conduct a search for your topic of choice on your favorite database (Google Scholar, PubMed, ScienceDirect, etc.) You sign up for a RSS feed of any type of search you make (i.e., title, author, etc.) Each database should have a link to subscribe to the RSS feed for the search.  Once you have the RSS feed link, open your favorite reader website (I use Feedly) and paste your RSS feed link into the add content option.  When a paper is published that shows up in your search, it will automatically populate into your blog reader.  Then when you have time, you can browse the latest published work on your research topic.


Subscribe to the RSS feed of your favorite journals.

Many journals offer a RSS feed option that you can also paste into your reader.  Be selective about which journals you subscribe to, otherwise you might just be scrolling through article after article that is useless to your research.


Sign up for search or journal alerts.

This is similar to subscribing to a RSS feed, but instead the new publications get emailed to you. You can set how often the alert sends you new publications. This is a good option if you don’t use a blog reader or want to control the notification interval.


Set a Google Alert.

Google Alert is a little different from setting up individual alerts.  With Google Alerts, the alert for your topic is for a Google search.  This is a better option if you want to know about literally everything published on your topic. is somewhat of a social network for academics.  Anyone can sign up though, so if you don’t have a university email you can still join.  You can follow others in your field and see what new publications they have.  It might be helpful for others, but I have found that not too many people use it in my field (more researchers I know use ResearchGate).



This one is for the scientists and engineers.  Research Gate is similar to, but it is specifically for scientists and you must have a university email to join.  I don’t work in academia, but I joined when I was still a graduate student. You can also ask or answer research questions, endorse skills for people in your network, and connect with researchers that you have cited or have cited your work.


VuMedi and The Doctor’s Channel

Both VuMedi and The Doctor’s Channel are websites that are for medical professionals to educate themselves about the latest surgical technique, research, or case study.  A quick glance over on each website every now and then will let you know if there is any new research you need to know about.  You can learn more about what VuMedi and The Doctor’s Channel offer here.


News sites for your field of study

Scanning news sites in your field helps you keep up to date on innovations that may not be directly in your line of research.  It’s still important to know about the key breakthroughs in your field.  You don’t necessarily have to read the research publications themselves, but a quick read through a write up about the research will give the basic information you need.


Being involved on social media

If you follow the right people in your field on Twitter or LinkedIn, you can get helpful updates about new research.  More and more researchers and academics are becoming involved on social media. (Although there are still plenty that are hold outs.) This is one area I need to improve upon- I have accounts on all the major sites, but I’m not as involved and connected as I could be.


Sharing research with colleagues

Freely sharing new and interesting research with co-workers and collaborators builds a foundation of sharing information.  Having this foundation in place makes it more likely that someone will send you a publication that you may have missed.


Tools I use

I personally used RSS feed subscriptions for a few important searches and journals.  Whenever I have the time at work, I’ll pull up Feedly and scan through the new publications.  When I find something I like, I’ll mark it to read later or pull up the paper right then.   I’m also a member of Research Gate and I’ll regularly scan the site for new interesting papers.  I freely share interesting or important research publications with colleagues on a regular basis (and receive articles from others as well).  This way, I stay on top of current research without spending much extra time.



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Ashley Parker, PhD

Ashley has a PhD in Biomedical Engineering and is a research engineer in the healthcare field by day. She also writes about grad school, research, and productivity at and @PurposefulPhD on Twitter.