When you graduate and start working as a professional, you have a responsibility to keep your knowledge and skills up to date. Methods include:

Journal subscriptions and alert services

Many professionals subscribe to a leading journal in their field to keep up to date.

Practically all journals provide alert services to keep you up to date with their content. Traditionally these have been called TOC services as they consist of an email alert of the new issues table of contents. This enables you to see what is being published and take steps to view any articles of interest. The alert will not include the full text of articles.

RSS feeds

A specialised technology for keeping up to date with journals is RSS. RSS feeds send you an alert from a web page whenever that web page is updated. To use RSS you must also use a program to collect your feeds in one place. Options for collecting your RSS feeds include

  • Browsers, such as Internet Explorer and Firefox
  • Email programs such as Microsoft Outlook
  • Online RSS Readers: Examples include Feedly and FeedDemon
  • Media organisers such as iTunes

Online readers work well because your RSS feeds are available from any computer, and can be synced with your mobile devices. Media organisers such as iTunes are also a good choice as they make your RSS feeds portable when linked with a smartphone.

RSS feeds are available not just on journal web sites, but on the web sites of news agencies, universities, organisations and blogs. Readers can collect feeds that contain text, images and audio for podcast feeds. You can tell a page has an RSS feed available by the looking for the RSS symbol. More information on using RSS feeds is available at WhatisRSS.com or watch the video below RSS in Plain English.

Search alerts

To complement an alert from a leading journal, a professional may set up search alerts to support their professional development. This means that whenever a new match to a chosen search strategy enters the database, an email alert is sent. Most databases, including Proquest databases, ScienceDirect and EbscoHost databases, provide this feature.

Professional organisations

Joining a professional organisation enables the opportunity to network with fellow professionals through email lists, exchanging ideas and reducing the isolation that can occur. Professional organisations provide information, publish trade journals and newsletters alerting you to new developments in the industry, continuing education opportunities and upcoming conferences. Your lecturer, tutor or librarian may suggest an appropriate professional organisation. You can often join as a student member at a discount rate.

Many professional organisations use social media such as Facebook and Twitter to send updates, share photos, publicise events and connect their members.