Wednesday, January 4, 2023

SearchResearch Challenge (1/4/23): How can I find latest updates on topics of interest?

 As you might remember... 

P/C MidJourney. Prompt: "unanticipated consequences, realistic"

... I'm also working on another book about Unanticipated Consequences.  In particular, you might remember that 18  months ago, I asked about how to do "slow research" on that topic.  

I'm happy to tell you that my research has been going well, although slowly.  The good news is that I'm getting close to the finish.  

But that brings up a different problem: I'd like my research to be as up-to-date as possible.  In particular, I'd like to be sure that I haven't missed anything in the past year.

This makes me think--how can people stay up-to-date on a particular topic?  The obvious way is to subscribe to blogs and newsletters that monitor the topic for you.  That's good, but suppose you'd like to get a bit more from the news directly?  

We've talked about using Google Alerts before, so that's not what I mean.  Let me frame this as an SRS Challenge for you: 

1. Can you find a way to limited search over a small number (say, 3 - 7) of high quality periodical sources of information for a particular topic for the past year?  (In my case, I want to search for articles on "unanticipated consequences" during 2022. Your topic of interest might be something different.)  How can I do that? 

2. (Extra credit) Can you figure out a way to have this limited search run once / month?  (In this case, you'd probably want to have the search extend over the past month, not the entire year.)  

This is the kind of tool that pro researchers use, or would like to, if they could figure it out.  Can you show them how to do this? 

Let us know how you found the answer to this! 

Search on! 


  1. hybrid - fact & fiction

  2. midJourney -
    also midjourney product

  3. cGPT:
    "high quality periodical sources of information for a particular topic for the past year?
    There are many ways to find high quality periodical sources of information for a particular topic. Here are a few strategies you could try:

    Use online search engines: You can use online search engines like Google or Bing to find articles, news stories, and other periodical sources on a particular topic. When you search, be sure to use specific keywords related to your topic, and consider using search operators like "AND" and "OR" to narrow or broaden your results.

    Check online databases: Many libraries and research institutions provide access to online databases that contain thousands of periodical sources, including academic journals, magazines, and newspapers. These databases can be a great way to find in-depth information on a particular topic.

    Follow industry-specific websites and blogs: If you're interested in a particular industry, you may be able to find relevant periodical sources by following websites and blogs that cover that industry. Many of these sources publish articles and news stories on a regular basis, so you can stay up-to-date on the latest developments.

    Use social media: Many organizations and individuals use social media to share news and information about their industries or areas of expertise. Following accounts related to your topic on platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook can be a great way to find high quality periodical sources.

    Check with a librarian: If you're having trouble finding periodical sources on your own, consider reaching out to a librarian for help. Librarians are experts at finding and organizing information, and they can point you towards the best sources for your research."

    1. Cute. I especially like the last graf: "Ask a librarian"...

  4. This sounds like a job for Google Scholar and one of its competitors. On Google Scholar you can put in a date search and restrict articles with the relevant key words to the article title - and then create an alert from your search e.g. gives this for "unanticipated consequences" with 5 articles in 2022. The problem with Google Scholar is knowing which of these articles are viewed as high quality - measured by article influence or the number of citations (which may be only a few if you look at the latest year). So ideally a search tool that looks at this may be better.

    Semantic Scholar uses an AI approach to look at journal / periodical articles and allows you to select paper influence or sort by the number of citations and so may be a good option too - although apparently it won't include articles secured by a paywall so this may limit its effectiveness. gives an example search. However I can't see a way of creating an alert from this - although alerting pages could be created to run the search again each month with different date options.

    A third option is - which also has limitations as it appears not to cover a full range of sources. (Sources named are PubMed, SpringerNature, Semantic Scholar and Microsoft Research - which has been "retired"). This allows you to sort articles by the number of citations - so giving a measure of quality. Like the other sites, it allows date searching and there is an option to create an alert which will email updates (although this appears to be as they happen rather than as a monthly digest, for example - so if there are multiple updates per day you could get flooded with emails). gives an example search.

    Combining all 3 (plus Scinapse and Google Scholar for their alerts) should give you what you want.

  5. My previous comment looked at searching for periodicals / journals. If you are searching for news, go to "" and enter something like "unanticipated consequences" when:1y to get items in the past year. OR regular Google and search intitle on the news tab e.g. - in both an alert can be set up with Google Alerts.

    With a budget you could also do a similar search in Factiva or equivalent news aggregator and set up an alert. This could also cover non-English languages, broadening the search.

  6. I have to think about it. At the moment, I don't have any idea after you mentioned Google Alerts. Maybe using a kind of similar to ancient Google Reader? Or maybe RSS? I don't even know if that exists! I need to verify.

    Meanwhile used [Google alert] to re-visit and re-read the Challenges and Posts about that topic.

    1. Out of topic, but I'd love to hear what Dr. Russell or any of you know.

      As we have seen in previous SRS Challenges, California has been having lots of damage due to fires.

      This beginning of year has brought plenty of rain. However, it's really a lot? And why, people say this will not prevent fires. I know heat season is in a few months but having rain before, I think could at least make fire season softer, right?

      Another out of topic, time lapse of Kilauea is amazing

    2. Thanks Remmij!

      California is being inundated with rain. Will it ease the drought? (2023)

      ..."We are as water managers dealing with something we call weather whiplash — that means extremes on the dry end and extremes on the wet end.”...According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, there hasn’t been a week when some part of California wasn’t abnormally dry or worse since 2011....When rain does fall, climate change has made it much more intense and destructive...

      Tracking the California drought. Average 71 or 91 gallons person per day water usage

    3. interesting, thanks - makes it look like it sucks to be Kansas/Missouri… central valley of cali could use some of that coastal deluge…

    4. Yeah, the rain quantity is a problem. And they're right--the trees, grasses, and low brush will grow a LOT this spring. But after the rains stop (in March, probably), they're sure up and dry out in the summer, leading to increased fire hazards in the hot, dry fall season.

    5. oroville
      some aerial ground truth - Oroville - there will be considerable
      snow melt from the Sierra...
      from the comments:
      An ode to a dear friend in failing health, whom I fell in love with as a young man and courted for 3 years exploring her beautful, rugged features. Our destiny was to eventually lead separate lives, but never forgotten. Her name was California.

  7. Just a comment gained from watching for UC during the past year

    There are lots of stories that do not actually mention the dreaded phrase "unanticipated consequences" but upon reading an item it may be just that which we seek.

    Good luck finding these too

    1. That's true... expanding one's repertory of "equivalent phrases" is part of the solution. (And thanks for all the UC notices on Substack. I *really* appreciate them!)

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. I will have to limit my UC searches to those in English. Translate helps to find the translated UC phrase but there no way for me to read it any other language.

  9. beware unexpected droids & snakes -- don't tend to do revisits or alerts -- look forward to seeing unintended method
    “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe”
    — John Muir

    from here:

    cobra effect, perverse incentive...

    a UC SERP:

    sites/links for Antti Karppinen at bottom of article, worth a look,
    interesting way to evaluate.

  11. a consequence of undetermined outcome -

  12. Greetings everyone,
    My initial thoughts went to Google Alerts as that's my normal tool when I want get updates on a subject. Current alert is looking for information on any upcoming Macs being released since I need a new computer. I'll admit that it is not the very good and is very limited in control options so doesn't meet the criteria you laid out in the challenge.
    Google Alerts
    I tried searching for [Google alerts alternatives]. The search engine results page (SERP) listed articles with alternatives such as Talkwalker and Mention. These didn't appear to be free except for a trial period. They also appeared to be focused on social media. Helpful if that is what you need for your research.
    I thought about Feedly. An RSS reader I've used since Google Reader was shut down. They allow you to set up feeds based on search terms, but it is in paid tier.
    My thinking then went to my old favorite standby of the library to do research. My library gives access to current periodical corpuses as well as Proquest. Search [protest alerts]
    Create a Search Alerts
    Another set of corpuses my library gives access to is EBSCO. Search [ebscohost alerts].
    Creating a Search Alert in EBSCOhost - Tutorial
    Search [gale books alerts] to Search Alerts and RSS Feeds for Gale Books and Authors
    My library uses Libby for some periodicals. If your interest is broad enough, you can set alerts when a new issue of a magazine becomes available.
    Can I be notified when new magazine issues are available?

    Moving on from my library, I went to SimilarSites and searched for sites similar to
    ScienceDirect has open access papers and articles and has this tutorial for setting up alerts.
    Using alerts tutorial

    With your sources already selected, you could also use Google's Programmable Search Engine (formerly Custom search Engine CSE.)
    Programmable Search Engine

    Probably not as useful depending on the topic is subscribing to Google Trends information on keywords or topics. Google Trends Subscriptions

    I think I may have strayed from the initial challenge into focusing to much on the alert part.

    1. d(⌒ー⌒) nicely composed

    2. tl;dr, but might help with topics...

  13. 𝛑 humor… almost — could the dog be a schrodinger cat ref? illustrating a paradox of quantum superposition
    does that make the pup a Boxer?

  14. could there be a "simplified google"? and if there was such
    a thing would there have to be a "complicated google"?
    all leading to a splintering of search/knowledge...
    and then there is the monetization of access - potentially
    controlling quality and timely viewing... to quote Pooh,
    "oh bother"

    "simplified wiki":

    Mao, J. Edgar Hoover, Casanova... wide array, but librarians may be suspect?

  15. I entered your query to Chatgpt and this popped out 3 seconds later:

    There are several ways to find a limited number of high-quality periodical sources of information for a particular topic for the past year. Here are a few suggestions:

    Use an academic search engine such as Google Scholar to search for articles on your topic. Many academic journals make their articles available online through Google Scholar, and you can use the search engine's advanced filters to limit your results to articles from the past year and from specific journals.

    Check the bibliographies of recent review articles or books on your topic. These resources often list other high-quality sources of information that have been published recently.

    Consult with an expert in your field. They can give you recommendations on the most reputable and recent sources on your topic.

    Use a specialized database or repository that curates content based on topic and recency.

    Use a combination of these options. By using different methods and cross-referencing the sources that they yield, you can better ensure that you are finding the most high-quality and relevant sources on your topic.

    However, keep in mind that it's also important to evaluate the relevance and credibility of any sources you find, even if they come from reputable journals or sources.

  16. for Extra Credit I askede Chatgbt for your second query; took much longer about 5 seconds:
    Yes, there are a few ways to set up a limited search that runs automatically once a month to find new sources of information on a particular topic:

    Use an RSS feed reader to subscribe to the RSS feeds of journals or sources that publish articles on your topic. Many journals and online publications offer RSS feeds that you can subscribe to, which will automatically deliver new articles to your reader on a regular basis.

    Set up a Google Alert for your topic. Google Alerts allow you to receive email notifications when new content that matches your search criteria is added to the web. You can set up an alert to be sent to you once a day, once a week, or as-it-happens, depending on your preference.

    Automate the searching process via script or a tool like IFTTT or Zapier, that could interact with academic search engines, databases, repositories or RSS feeds on a schedule you decide.

    Use specialized software that can be configured to automatically search and scrape data from a specific set of journals or sources, and send you notifications when new articles that match your search criteria are published.

    Keep in mind that, you will have to adjust the search criteria and scope of your search each month. And depending on the method you use, you might have to check the results manually, in order to verify the relevance of the sources provided.

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