August 10, 2023


Categories: Faculty, University, Website

Automating Content Updates in a Website via a Data Feed

The continuous flow of information and the need for timely updates has pushed businesses, universities, and other organizations towards more streamlined ways of managing content. Automating content updates via a data feed can address this need. By having a centralized, authoritative source that can be maintained by either the crowd or content specialists, websites can stay up-to-date effortlessly. This approach not only saves time but also ensures consistency and accuracy across various platforms.

The Authoritative Source

A centralized, authoritative source acts as a hub that contains all the essential data. It can be maintained by content specialists, responsible for ensuring the accuracy and timeliness of information, or by crowdsourcing, where multiple users contribute to the content.

This centralized source can provide a consumable JSON feed that can be integrated into various websites. JSON, short for JavaScript Object Notation, is a standard data interchange format that is easy for humans to read and write, and easy for machines to parse and generate. By employing this technology, data can be readily consumed, and websites can stay updated without manual intervention.

Examples of Implementation

Researchers’ Profiles in Universities

In academic institutions, researchers often maintain their profiles in a centralized university system. This includes their biographical information, research interests, publications, awards, and other relevant data. By having this information centralized, the individual department and lab sites can automatically pull the data, ensuring that the researcher’s profile stays up-to-date across various platforms.

Publications via PubMed

PubMed, a free search engine primarily accessing the MEDLINE database of references and abstracts on life sciences and biomedical topics, provides an excellent example of content automation. Many universities, departments, and individual researchers consume PubMed’s data feed to update their sites with the latest publications. This automation ensures that the latest research findings are promptly and widely disseminated without manual effort.

Challenges and Hybrid Solutions

While automating content updates through a data feed provides immense benefits, it is not devoid of challenges. Here are some that organizations must contend with:

Incomplete Datasets

A centralized system is only as good as the data it contains. Incomplete or inaccurate data can lead to inconsistencies across platforms. This challenge emphasizes the need for rigorous quality control and validation mechanisms.

Need for Hybrid External/Internal System

Not all information can or should be crowdsourced or controlled centrally. Some data might be specific to certain departments, labs, or individuals. A hybrid approach that combines external data feeds with internal data management can provide a more nuanced and tailored solution.


Automating content updates via a data feed represents a powerful approach to managing information across multiple platforms. By employing a centralized authoritative source, organizations can streamline the process, save valuable time, and ensure that information is consistent and accurate.

Examples like the management of researchers’ profiles in universities and the consumption of publications from sources like PubMed highlight the practical applications of this approach.

However, it is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Challenges like incomplete datasets and the need for hybrid solutions that combine both centralized and localized control must be considered. By thoughtfully implementing automation and recognizing its limitations, organizations can harness the power of data feeds to keep their websites fresh, accurate, and engaging.