July 19, 2006

ISI: RSS Feeds (and why the could be much better, Part 2)

The newest ISI/Web of Knowledge update has added RSS capability. For my institution, this means search alerts for Web of Science and Biosis Previews (plus a few others), and citation alerts for Web of Science. I spent part of the morning working with it and writing up instructions for our library's Science/Engineering feedlist.

This is how RSS-based search alerting should work: you run a search, you see an box or something equivalent, you right-click to copy the link, you paste that link into your reader and you're done.

And this is how it works in ISI.

  • Set up an account in Web of Knowledge and login if you don't already have one.
  • Run a search.
  • From the results, go to Search History.
  • Save the search like you would do for an e-mail alert (but skip that part of the form) and save it to their server. You'll see a confirmation of the alert, with the .
So far, it's deja vu with yet another publisher tying RSS alerting to their e-mail alerting system where--yes--you need at least an e-mail address for that user. But I shouldn't have to go through this many steps to capture a feed off a search. For a cited reference alert in WoS, you click Create Citation Alert from the record and you'll get a similar confirmation page

But wait.....there's more. They've also borrowed from EiV2 to make the RSS even less intuitive.
You can't copy/paste the link in the , because the link looks like this (the ................... represents lots of letters and numbers):


Problem is, the RSS reader won't recognize this as a feed. You either have to paste it and strip out part of the link, or click the to bring up the feed code in a new browser window and copy the URL as it appears in the address bar.


Once I got the feed in Bloglines, it looked fine. You get more information than with the EiV2 feeds (complete citation vs. article title only), but less information than with PubMed or Astrophysics Data System (no abstract or journal linking).

I'm just baffled at how our licensed database vendors have made their RSS alert creation systems so convoluted for users. Maybe Ovid will get it right with their next interface.

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Christina said...

eek. I'm impressed you found this at all -- I hadn't noticed yet. Sigh, we have a lot of people who don't want to "create an account" with an e-mail -- you don't have to with EV2.

Thanks for the heads up!

CW said...

Thanks for this - I found it painful to use as well, and once I saw your post realised it was a 'generic' problem and not just user failure on my part. Then I discovered that I need to strip my library's ezproxy information from the feed URL as well. Ok for an intrepid librarian (snigger) to work out, but way too much for most other users of WoK, I think!