Authors : Yulia V. Sevryugina, Andrew J. Dicks
This study explores the evolution of publication practices associated with the SARS-CoV-2 research papers, namely, peer-reviewed journal and review articles indexed in PubMed and their associated preprints posted on bioRxiv and medRxiv servers: a total of 4,031 journal article-preprint pairs.
Our assessment of various publication delays during the January 2020 to March 2021 period revealed the early bird effect that lies beyond the involvement of any publisher policy action and is directly linked to the emerging nature of new and ‘hot’ scientific topics.
We found that when the early bird effect and data incompleteness are taken into account, COVID-19 related research papers show only a moderately expedited speed of dissemination as compared with the pre-pandemic era.
Medians for peer-review and production stage delays were 66 and 15 days, respectively, and the entire conversion process from a preprint to its peer-reviewed journal article version took 109.5 days.
The early bird effect produced an ephemeral perception of a global rush in scientific publishing during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. We emphasize the importance of considering the early bird effect in interpreting publication data collected at the outset of a newly emerging event.