News sources for TSL

13 Jan
Published by gtaylor


general open research

One of the services The Synaptic Leap provides for its users is the aggregation of news that is relevant to our research communities, e.g. malaria and schistosomiasis.  You can see this under the News Feeds link in the navigation block. 

I'm not a scientist, just a computer geek.  Therefore I could use your help in making sure we are getting content from the best sources for you.


  • It must produce an RSS/XML feed.
  • It must either be a source focused on the research topic e.g. Malaria Journal, or must support an RSS feed for a specific tag or search key word. I don't want to boil the ocean and bring in all recent science news from journals.  That would cause our site to lose focus and purpose. But I will gladly bring in content from a specific journal if it will support search/tag specific RSS feeds.

By meeting this criteria, it allows me to create research specific aggregated news feeds for the community. 

Sources for News Feeds I've Found Meeting Our Criteria (in alphabetical order)

Good Sources For Content but I Can't Find Topic Specific Feeds

  • Cell - Offers RSS feeds for latest articles by journal but I can't get tag/search specific feed for malaria, schisto...
  • Google Scholar - great search engine but I don't see how to get an RSS feed from search results.  But given the power of Google Scholar, I've decided to add a block for it in the upper right.  If you register, you may choose to remove the block by configuring your personal profile.
  • Nature - Offers RSS feeds for latest articles by journal but I can't get tag/search specific feed for malaria, schisto...
  • Science - I can't even find their RSS feeds, surely I'm missing something...
  • PLoS - Offers RSS feeds for latest articles by journal but I can't get tag/search specific feed for malaria, schisto...

What We Need From You 

This is your community; participate to make it better.   

  1. If I missed a trick/link on those site to get subject specific content via RSS, let me know.  
  2. Are there other valuable content sources we should include?
  3. The good news is that if CiteULike and Connotea both allow you to help publish valuable articles into our site.  All you need to do is join those sites and as you see valuable articles tag it with the key words malaria or schistosoma and within a day the headlines of those articles will appear on our site within the news feeds section.  On Connotea, you can also join the group "The Synaptic Leap" and by so doing all your content will be fed to that community as well.  I won't go into all the how-to's here, those sites have good information on that. 

To respond, post a comment below. Be aware, you will need to be logged in to post a comment.  

Thanks in advance for your participation! 


MatTodd's picture

The primary bibliographic reference I use is ISI's web of science (or web of knowledge). is the basic page, but if you're a member you bypass this and go straight to the database.

They don't have RSS, but they are able to send weekly search results by email (html format possible). Is this any use? The real advantage of this is that you cover all journals. I have a suspicion that you get papers only, not news&views type items. If we did this the search results would be large but from academic journals. Ginger - shall I get a sample sent to my email address and forward that on to you? I think the results come through on Fridays.

We're picking up quite a few blog-type hits of questionable relevance for the malaria feeds..?

Would it be possible/easy to archive the news feeds (by month or something). Is this a good idea - are the links accurate for long enough to make this useful?


gtaylor's picture

It's possible to write a custom parsing program to take the email file and turn it into RSS and publish that back into our site. However, that's a lot of work - especially since every email feed is a different format and therefore the parsing logic is good for only one source.  Plus Web of Science should really be doing this for all their customers.  As a customer I encourage you and others to push web of science to support RSS feeds with search/tag queries.  That's the internet standard and it's quite powerful because a lot of applications know how to read RSS and can do interesting things for you.

In the mean time, as you discover interesting articles on Web of Science, it would be useful for the rest of the community if you could reference the article on either CiteULike or Connotea and tag it as appropriate with malaria or schistosoma.  When you do that it will help other users in that community AND it will get published into our site (they support tag/search specific RSS feeds). 

If you haven't used those services yet, they're quite useful.  Think of them as journal clubs with the entire world participating.  Essentially, other scientists such as yourself are doing the same thing and it helps you to wade through the noise and find USEFUL articles.  Ahh the beauty of collective intelligence.   As for choosing one, I personally found Connotea to be more intuitive.   Regardless of my preference, I think CiteULike has a longer history with academics and may be the favorite and therefore may have more valuable content.  Check it out and let others know what you think.

Speaking of noise, the blog hits are from technorati.  I will delete and stop those feeds. They're easy to turn back on if somebody feels strongly otherwise. 

I can delete the news feeds periodically if that's what we want to do.  Unfortunately, the current delete function deletes all in the box from a given news source and doesn't have any parameters to say delete all articles retrieved last month.   Therefore if we delete we will be starting with a fresh set of links periodically.  Once I get rid of the technorati feeds it hopefully won't be so overwhelming.  Let's wait and see if you still want me to delete all links after I get rid of the blog posts.

Thanks for the feedback!  Cheers. 

gtaylor's picture

I got a backdoor email from Mat asking me to add him to The Synaptic Leap group at Connotea.  Looks like I misunderstood their current functionality of Groups. 

Let me set the record straight and I will be sure future papers on the site are accurate.  In fact I think I'll go back and edit my last comment on this to minimize future confusion. 

With current functionality on Connotea, users can't "join" a group.  Instead, the person who creates the group must maintain a list of people in the group.  That means that anybody on this site who wants to be in the TSL group must send me a request.  Uggh.  Just what I need, more admin.  Obviously that's doable with a small set of users.  But hey, I have aspirations of 100's perhaps even thousands of scientists partiicpating on this site one day :-)  Why else would I spend all my spare time doing this for no pay. 

I sent a request into Connotea to enhance their groups functionality.  At best this change will take a while and that's assuming that it will bubble up their priority list to an enhancement to be made.  It might help if other Connotea users requested the same enhancement.  So if you can spare the time, register for their discussion list and post a request. My exact wording for the enhancement:

People should be able to join other groups.  Having a person maintain the group list should only be one option.  If a group is marked public, anybody should be able to opt-in and join the group. 

gtaylor's picture

Good news, Connotea responded quickly to my request about groups.  Here's their response:

Hi Ginger,

I agree.  We're planning to rethink the groups option, and this is exactly
the kind of thing we had in mind.

Thanks very much for your feedback.

Of course there's not commitment for timing yet.  But it's a good indication that we should see this change within our lifetime.

MatTodd's picture

That's good. It would be useful also to have a super-user who can eject people from groups in the unlikely event we start getting links to articles on viagra and cheap stocks... I will prod Connotea also.

MatTodd's picture

I checked with Web of Science via Sydney library. Not surprisingly the acceptable use policy includes the following:

"Allowing data from the Licensed Product to be made available to others or downloading the Licensed Product onto any electronic storage media or distributing or transferring the Database or Search Results in any form (printed, electronically relayed, posted to public list services or bulletin boards, or magnetically stored) to, or for the benefit, of others. "

So it's not possible to use this resource as-is (via Sydney, again no great surprise). However, I'm going to check with them directly about getting a spearate account from them for TSL, and asking whether we can get RSS feeds/searches directly. Is TSL a charitable body yet?

gtaylor's picture

Current status (short answer) 

We were incorporated as non-profit entity in Nov. 2005.  Paperwork was filed in the state of NC.  However, the IRS (US tax system) does not yet recognize us as a non-profit.  I'm not sure if this will be enough for WOS or not, but you can ask.

What this means on a broader scale 

In our current status I can not accept donations and offer a guaranteed tax deduction.  I have 18 months from incorporation to file for my non-profit status.  Once I receive it, then all donations made after incorporation are considered tax deductable retrocatively.  To date, I have accepted less than $500 of monetary donations.  The rest has been volunteer time and out of my pocket.

What's the hold up?

My biggest bottle-neck is getting enough solid board members to oversee our activities.  The IRS requires a board to be sure that I don't inappropriately use the public's money.  It makes sense, but it sure makes starting a non-profit difficult.  Non-profits are essentially held to similar standards as a publicly traded corporation.  Commercial companies don't start out with the rules of stiffer standards; they start out lean and grow into the stiffer rules.

I'm being a bit picky and have only extended an invitation to a few people.  I want people who can add real value, will donate their time for free, and who I think can get along well with each other.  The last thing I want to do is spend all my time managing the board versus working on the site.  A few have turned me down because they couldn't make the time commitment.  Two have said yes; and they're both solid people.  Once we roll out the new site look and feel I will go back to focusing on recruiting a few other board members and filling out the paperwork. 


MatTodd's picture

I was in touch with helpful people at WoS about RSS, and they said they are working on it. No firm dates yet - I'll keep an eye on the situation and let you know.