March 11, 2006

EBSCOhost: RSS Feeds (and why they could be much better)

EBSCO now offers the option to create RSS feeds for search and journal alerts. The great thing is that this includes all of the EBSCOhost databases, including Business Source Premier. The not-so-great thing is that the means to generate and save those feeds is about as convoluted as you can get.

With PubMed, Engineering Village 2 (Inspec and Compendex), and the Astrosphysics Data System, you run your search and get the feed URL to add to your RSS reader. It may take an extra click or two with PubMed, but overall it's not much more complicated than grabbing a feed off the NYT site.

However, EBSCO's made the process more complicated because you have to go through all the steps you'd need to take to create an e-mail search alert. First, you need to login to you My EBSCOhost account, or register for one if you don't already have it. Then you run the search and click the Search History/Alerts tab and follow the steps like you're creating an e-mail search alert. However, when you get to the Email Options, you select No e-mail (RSS only) so that when you save the alert, you get the RSS feed URL to add to your reader. It's the same procedure for creating a journal alert, you can't get the feed until you've signed in to My EBSCOhost.

I'm delighted that EBSCO is moving forward with RSS. At the CLA presentation I gave last November, one of the points that came out of the discussion was that public libraries are more dependent on aggregated collections like EBSCO and ProQuest for access to journal articles than academic libraries that are more likely to subscribe to journals through the publishers' native interfaces. The TOC alert feeds from the publishers just aren't going to be as useful if you have to go through Academic Search Premier to get to the actual articles.

However, it would be much simpler if EBSCO allowed you to capture an RSS feed directly off the search results page.

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Christina said...

I wasn't as thrilled as I though I'd be with the facets... They are only subject related unlike EI which has facets for author, class code, etc. I didn't even try the RSS feeds yet, because they didn't show up in my normal course of business! BTW- both Universities where I have priviledges use EBSCOhost for Inspec, sigh.

MDG said...

We needed a 'home' for these RSS feeds. Alerts was a natural place. Since we offer a personalized area (allowing individuals to log in and create saved searches and alerts) it felt like the right place.

We're considering ways to make this much more intuitive and easy to get to. We're excited that the feature's gotten such a great reaction.... and we realize it's not as accessible as we'd like...we're working on it!