One of the most challenging parts of being an academic is keeping up with all the new literature that comes out. We live in a publish-or-perish world, and that means the most active academics are putting out several new articles per year that we need to at least be aware of.

You may know already that a lot of journal publishers allow you to sign up for an email or RSS feed of that journal’s table of contents.  Unfortunately you have to set those up one by one, and that process can be quite tedious.

Enter TicTOCs, a service that provides access to a wide range of RSS feeds for journal tables of contents.  You can choose the journals you are interested in, export the list to an OPML file and then import that into your RSS reader, subscribing to the table of contents for all the journals you chose.  When a new issue is released, the table of contents appears in your reader and you can review it for any articles or authors that are important to your work.

This process was seamless in Google Reader.  I picked a bunch of journals, exported and imported, and less than 2 minutes later began seeing journal tables of contents appear in my reader.

The service doesn’t provide you with access to the journals themselves, only the tables of contents, so once you find an article of interest you will still need to go to your university library site to get the article.  The journal list is also limited; Sage, ProQuest and a few others participate, but many of the big publishers do not.  Nonetheless TicTOCs spead up the process of getting subscribed to the relevant journals and saved me time finding them all one by one.