Wednesday, March 17, 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?

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