In active research fields, knowledge grows exponentially.1 As a consequence, researchers and clinicians rapidly fall behind their fields of expertise if they do not constantly absorb new developments. Although attendance to professional conferences can provide a general awareness of recent developments, one can acquire detailed knowledge of new material only by reading full research reports in the published literature.

Since my graduate-school days in the early 1980s, I have monitored the literature in my field (thermal physiology and circadian biology) through computerized literature searches. Since 1992, I have used a professional literature awareness service to help me keep up with the burgeoning research literature. The service I use is Personal Alert, which is provided by the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) in Philadelphia, but many other services are available from ISI and from various other companies.

ISI searches an average of 24,000 research articles each week based on search...

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