Wednesday, 17 March 2010

E-alerts for Medical Education... are you listening #meded journals?

One of my colleagues when I was a medical student at Queen's University, Belfast got in touch today. He does some really interesting work in Medical Education, though he doesn't blog or twitter. This morning he sent me a message on Facebook:"Can I ask you a quick question? Do you know any good 'e-alert system' in medical education? I thought of no better person to ask! "

I wasn't sure that I knew what an e-alert system was so I asked if he meant RSS feeds. No, he meant getting an email alert from a journal when new content was published.He pointed out that the journal Medical Education did provide this but the service "a) isn't working and b) restricted to Med Ed journal only. My reason for this is that there are many good papers published in other journals (jama etc) that if you are not actively looking for - you can miss".

So the challenge: How can we aggregate medical education research in useful ways?

First I thought about people as filter! We are already sharing useful information on Twitter using the #meded tag. It isn't all about research though. And then there are people using meded and medicaleducation as tags on Delicious. And then there is content saved to the Medical Education group in CiteULIke. So I decided to make a Yahoo Pipe to aggregate these feeds. I was thinking about ways to get that RSS feed sent to email (through Yahoo's alert itslef or though a service such as Feed My Inbox) when my friend sent me another message further describing his vision
 "My general idea is that a user can choose (+filter) what particular topics interest them. Then once a week you are sent an email with a range of new papers in your desired area (more digestable than getting several journals sending you then abstract lists). Maybe there is a general one that already does and you just have to set it to medical education."

Umm. My solution hadn't really addressed specifically finding medical education research. Content posted to any of the feeds I had included may not be very recent, and may be links to interesting resources which are not research. Alerts can be set up for various journals in PubMed, and for specific searches. Is this the solution?

What is the best way (today) of making sure that you do not miss out on research relevant to the topic you are teaching or researching? What will be the best way of doing this in the future?


  1. I use Google Alerts

    which sends me a daily email digest with everything tagged with "medicaleducation" but unfortunately there is a lot of junk mixed in with the gems

  2. I'm not sure how good the coverage of medical education is in Medline, but you could set up a search - something like this one which can then be made into an RSS-feed (

    I saw you ask about RSS to e-mail yesterday on twitter - send the RSS to the site mentioned and get it e-mailed. A bit long-winded - but once set-up it should get you there.

    BTW the search I set up was pretty quick, so it probably needs some work!

  3. Here are some comments from Jeremy Walker from Meducation through Google Buzz.

    Jeremy Walker - Meducation is currently developing technology to give you information that is relevant to what you study/teach/research etc. We are working with publishers to get their journals and textbooks on the site so all the information is in one easy to access place. We will also be aggregating RSS feeds etc from around the web, so you get everything directly targetted to you. You simply tell Meducation what you want to know about and it will keep you updated.

    This is all coming over the summer.17 Mar
    Anne Marie Cunningham - Hi Jeremy
    Will you do this for individual areas ie could I specify undergraduate assessment will it just be a general term like 'medical education' or even a whole journal like 'academic medicine'?
    But good to hear about the developments!Edit22:02
    Anne Marie Cunningham - And it would be great if you could leave your comment on the blog post. Are you on twitter yet?Edit22:05
    Jeremy Walker - Yep, you'll tell Meducation your academic level and it will filter content based on that.

    You basically get put into lots of "communities" based on who you are and what you're into, then the news feeds and search features use that information to tailor the content to you personally.

    We're just getting started on the development now.

    Yeah - we're on Twitter but not really using it yet. It just contains links to news stories on our site. (personal)

    What's the URL for the blog?22:06
    Jeremy Walker - Just reread your question. It will be specific areas, not large ones.

    You type in a specific subject and Meducation will try and find things specific to that then look up and down our subject tree to find things that are relevant. We will probably use MESH headings to achieve this.22:08

  4. @Jon
    Thanks for your comment. As I say at the end it is possible to set up a custom search and have it emailed to you bypassing the RSS feed step. But I'm thinking about another post on what is the best way to handle an RSS feed set up in this way. It would be great if one of the academic bookmarking services allowed you to use them as Google Reader for research.


I am reintroducing word verification to cut back on spam posts. I'm sorry if you find it frustrating,