Using Google Reader

February 15, 2010

(This article was first published on Research tips » R, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

Google Reader is a fantastic way to keep track of new papers that are appearing in many different journals, and also to follow some of the interesting research blogs (and blogs on other topics) that are out there. Google Reader checks websites for you and lets you know of any new material that appears. Instead of you having to look at dozens of different websites to discover new information, all you need to do is open up Google Reader and all the information comes to you. In some ways it is like an email account, but where the messages contain new additions to websites that you are interested in.

Google Reader is called an “RSS reader” because it reads RSS feeds. RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication”. A website with an RSS feed makes it possible to track additions to the site without actually visiting it yourself.  There are other RSS readers, but Google Reader is the most widely used. Recently Google Reader added a facility so that it now also tracks sites that don’t have RSS feeds.

If you haven’t used it before, here’s how to get started.

  1. Go to and log in. If you already have a Google account (e.g., you’re a Gmail user), then just use your usual Google details. If you don’t have a Google account, then you will need to set one up.


  2. Click “Add subscription” and type the URL of any website you want to track.
  3. When you are reading a website that you would like to subscribe to, click the orange RSS button that looks like this: .
    A modern browser such as Firefox or Chrome will figure out that you want to subscribe to the RSS feed. If that doesn’t work, just copy the link address and paste it into the “Add subscription” box in Google Reader.

Each morning I read through anything new on Google Reader including new research papers in journals that I track, new articles on some statistics blogs that I follow, etc. In fact, I have over 500 subscriptions! I don’t read every article or it would take all day, but I do scan the headlines and read what looks interesting.

It can take a while to collect all the subscriptions for journals you might want to read. To make it easy, you can just piggy-back on my journal collection (which covers all statistics journals, both forecasting journals, plus a few econometrics and demography journals, as well as all statistical preprints on arxiv). Click here if you want to subscribe to all the same journals as me.

If you are interested in R, R-bloggers is very useful as it combines the posts from a large number of blogs about R.  Just go to the site and click on the RSS feed icon and you will be able to add a subscription to your Google Reader account.

For those who like to keep up with LaTeX, the TeX community aggregator does something similar for bloggers writing about LaTeX and related topics. Again, just click on the RSS feed icon.

Here is a list of statistics research blogs. Check them out and subscribe to anything that takes your fancy.

This website has an RSS feed, as do my other websites. Just click the orange button at the top-right of the page and select “Google Reader” and then you will receive any new posts I make in your Google Reader account.


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