Oldest Reading hard copy tables of content. Pleasent, but impractical.
Older Checking out the updates for Index Medicus. Totally reasonable. In 1988.
Old Getting eTOCs emailed to you. Welcome to the year 2000.
Middle-aged Subscribing to RSS feeds for journals. Okay, but still needs filtering.
Present Automated, keyword-based filtering of RSS feeds. Better.
E.g., here are the ones for Nature journals (including the AOPs) (link)
And for Science (link).
It doesn’t take much time to find feeds for the top 20 journals in your field. Feed links shouldn’t change frequently, but they can change.
Filtering RSS feeds
This is an early (2005) work in the field of filtering RSS feeds from journals: BaRF (Bioinformatics aggregated RSS feeds) is a tool for keeping up with bioinformatics articles across multiple journals’ RSS feeds.
Presently, there are a bunch of different ways to filter RSS feeds. Fascinatingly, they’re all inadequate. So, although this is a good approach, I’m not sure it’s worth the time to set up and maintain just yet.
At any rate, if you want to take a stab at it, here are some of the services to check out. Feed Sifter, Scraper, Superfeedr, Feed Rinse. To be honest, none of these worked completely for me. I’ve tried others as well, including the powerful Yahoo Pipes (too buggy). If you have a system worked out that you’d like to share, please let us know.
Getting every last drop
It’s also possible to set up PubMed search result updates. But there can be weeks between when an article is put online and when PubMed picks it up, so this isn’t ideal. However, it covers all of the journals that PubMed indexes, so it can bring papers to your attention that might have otherwise fallen through the cracks of your RSS feeds.