Publication patterns’ changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic: a longitudinal and short-term scientometric analysis

Authors : Shir Aviv-Reuven, Ariel Rosenfeld

In recent months the COVID-19 (also known as SARS-CoV-2 and Coronavirus) pandemic has spread throughout the world. In parallel, extensive scholarly research regarding various aspects of the pandemic has been published. In this work, we analyse the changes in biomedical publishing patterns due to the pandemic.

We study the changes in the volume of publications in both peer reviewed journals and preprint servers, average time to acceptance of papers submitted to biomedical journals, international (co-)authorship of these papers (expressed by diversity and volume), and the possible association between journal metrics and said changes.

We study these possible changes using two approaches: a short-term analysis through which changes during the first six months of the outbreak are examined for both COVID-19 related papers and non-COVID-19 related papers; and a longitudinal approach through which changes are examined in comparison to the previous four years.

Our results show that the pandemic has so far had a tremendous effect on all examined accounts of scholarly publications: A sharp increase in publication volume has been witnessed and it can be almost entirely attributed to the pandemic; a significantly faster mean time to acceptance for COVID-19 papers is apparent, and it has (partially) come at the expense of non-COVID-19 papers; and a significant reduction in international collaboration for COVID-19 papers has also been identified.

As the pandemic continues to spread, these changes may cause a slow down in research in non-COVID-19 biomedical fields and bring about a lower rate of international collaboration.