SPIRES now supports RSS feeds


Today I just discovered that SPIRES (Durham mirror) supports RSS feeds.

Fig 1. Now I’ll be the first to know when Einstein publishes a new paper.

eprintweb.org already offers an arXiv feed, though I’ve found that it doesn’t always catch every new paper. What’s great about SPIRES is that the RSS feed the output of a query. That’s right — you can now receive specific updates regarding new posts on the arXiv based on your own search criteria!

I haven’t tested this thoroughly, but it seems to capture the daily hep-ph feed faithfully. I set a feed for any papers my adviser publishes, and the following day I had two new deliveries with papers from 1970 written by someone with a similar name.

Some ideas for setting up a useful feed:

  • Feed for any new papers by a hot-shot theorist (see Fig. 1)
  • Feed for papers by an experimental collaboration such as CDF… or you could just keep an eye on Tommaso’s blog. 🙂
  • Feed for new top cites
  • Feed for papers by subject (e.g. hep-ph)
  • Feed for papers that cite you (ScienceDirect already does this for its papers) (update 27/09/07: As pointed out by Rein, in the comments, you can’t search for papers citing an author, but instead papers citing a given paper)
  • Feed for jobs (postdocs, faculty)

And you can mix and match to get a very specific set of papers delivered to your RSS reader. A list of SPIRES search options is available on their help page. For those of you who are familiar with RSS, go play with it! If you need a good RSS reader, I use Google’s… but there are plenty of others.  For those who have no idea what the heck RSS is and what I’m talking about, read on.

What is RSS?

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. If blogging is the Web 2.0 version of a newspaper, then RSS is the paper-boy. It delivers new information to you without you having to go poking about the web to multiple websites. (If you’re not using RSS to read blogs already, then you should consider it.)

It’s not just for blogs, either. You can set RSS feeds for your favourite online newspapers, podcasts, web comics, and now SPIRES searches. If you’re like my mother and only read one blog (hi, Mom!), then RSS is probably a bit much. But if you have a lots of websites that you check regularly, then having each site deliver news to your reader is much easier than manually visiting each website every hour to see if they’ve updated. Checking for new posts can be set to be a passive process, like leaving your e-mail client running in the background.

Uh, and SPIRES?

SPIRES stands for the Stanford Physics Information Retrieval System, it’s a database of bibliographic (and increasingly biographic) data related to high energy physics literature. SPIRES keeps up with arXiv papers, but also includes data on conference proceedings and technical notes. In its modern form, it provides several very useful services, including:

Interesting data from SPIRES often is reported in Symmetry Magazine.

RSS and Web 2.0 Science

RSS is one of the underpinnings of the `Web 2.0′ revolution. It’s a base-level example of making the Internet work for you, rather than you having to work through it. It’s a method of delivering specific information automatically, which is extremely powerful when trying to keep up (in real time) with large amounts of information.

I mentioned earlier that RSS is like a paperboy that delivers the news. It’s actually a bit more than this. In pre-Internet terms, the utility of SPIRES RSS feeds is more like having a personal research slave (or undergrad) that waits patiently at the university library for new journals (and newspapers, magazines, sunday comics, etc.). When each journal arrives, the slave then rushes to the photocopier and makes a copy that he quietly places on a stack on your desk. Over the course of the day the stack grows, and you’re free to go through it at your leisure.

(Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised if such a system existed some time ago in Cambridge…)


6 Responses to “SPIRES now supports RSS feeds”

  1. 1 Matt D

    Hmm, well there’s already a StringWiki set up Flip http://www.stringwiki.org/wiki/String_Theory_Wiki

  2. Hey Matt — yeah, I mentioned the String Wiki in a previous post. I think it’s great for the string community, but the breakdown of topics is a bit string-centric for my tastes. I like the HEP Reviews breakdown of topics.

    Of course, the great thing about wikis is that they can be changed.

  3. 3 Rien

    Um, how do you search for papers that cite you? I only know how to search for cites of a particular paper…? That would be the most interesting search to have a feed for 🙂

  4. Ah — Rien, it appears that I was overzealous. You can search for papers that cite a given paper. For example, http://www.slac.stanford.edu/spires/find/hep?c=PRLTA,32,438

    It does not appear that you can search for papers that cite a given author (though I wouldn’t think it would be too hard for the SPIRES people to put that in). So for now you’ll have to make a separate RSS feed for each of your papers. 🙂

    My apologies for the mistake!

  1. 1 Web 2.0 Science: Rise of the Wiki, Part III « An American Physics Student in England
  2. 2 RSS Feeds for the arXiv « An American Physics Student in England

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