The Most Widely Disseminated COVID-19-Related Scientific Publications in Online Media: A Bibliometric Analysis of the Top 100 Articles with the Highest Altmetric Attention Scores

Authors : Ji Yoon Moon, Dae Young Yoon, Ji Hyun Hong, Kyoung Ja Lim, Sora Baek, Young Lan Seo, Eun Joo Yun

The novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a global pandemic. This study’s aim was to identify and characterize the top 100 COVID-19-related scientific publications, which had received the highest Altmetric Attention Scores (AASs).

Hence, we searched Altmetric Explorer using search terms such as “COVID” or “COVID-19” or “Coronavirus” or “SARS-CoV-2” or “nCoV” and then selected the top 100 articles with the highest AASs. For each article identified, we extracted the following information: the overall AAS, publishing journal, journal impact factor (IF), date of publication, language, country of origin, document type, main topic, and accessibility.

The top 100 articles most frequently were published in journals with high (>10.0) IF (n = 67), were published between March and July 2020 (n = 67), were written in English (n = 100), originated in the United States (n = 45), were original articles (n = 59), dealt with treatment and clinical manifestations (n = 33), and had open access (n = 98).

Our study provides important information pertaining to the dissemination of scientific knowledge about COVID-19 in online media.

URL : The Most Widely Disseminated COVID-19-Related Scientific Publications in Online Media: A Bibliometric Analysis of the Top 100 Articles with the Highest Altmetric Attention Scores


Assessment of transparency indicators across the biomedical literature: How open is open?

Authors : Stylianos Serghiou, Despina G. Contopoulos-Ioannidis, Kevin W. Boyack, Nico Riedel, Joshua D. Wallach, John P. A. Ioannidis

Recent concerns about the reproducibility of science have led to several calls for more open and transparent research practices and for the monitoring of potential improvements over time. However, with tens of thousands of new biomedical articles published per week, manually mapping and monitoring changes in transparency is unrealistic.

We present an open-source, automated approach to identify 5 indicators of transparency (data sharing, code sharing, conflicts of interest disclosures, funding disclosures, and protocol registration) and apply it across the entire open access biomedical literature of 2.75 million articles on PubMed Central (PMC).

Our results indicate remarkable improvements in some (e.g., conflict of interest [COI] disclosures and funding disclosures), but not other (e.g., protocol registration and code sharing) areas of transparency over time, and map transparency across fields of science, countries, journals, and publishers.

This work has enabled the creation of a large, integrated, and openly available database to expedite further efforts to monitor, understand, and promote transparency and reproducibility in science.

URL : Assessment of transparency indicators across the biomedical literature: How open is open?


Attracting new users or business as usual? A case study of converting academic subscription-based journals to open access

Author : Lars Wenaas

This paper studies a selection of 11 Norwegian journals in the humanities and social sciences and their conversion from subscription to open access, a move heavily incentivized by governmental mandates and open access policies.

By investigating the journals’ visiting logs in the period 2014–2019, the study finds that a conversion to open access induces higher visiting numbers; all journals in the study had a significant increase, which can be attributed to the conversion.

Converting a journal had no spillover in terms of increased visits to previously published articles still behind the paywall in the same journals. Visits from previously subscribing Norwegian higher education institutions did not account for the increase in visits, indicating that the increase must be accounted for by visitors from other sectors.

The results could be relevant for policymakers concerning the effects of strict policies targeting economically vulnerable national journals, and could further inform journal owners and editors on the effects of converting to open access.


The Labor of Maintaining and Scaling Free and Open-Source Software Projects

Authors : Richard Geiger, Dorothy Howard, Lilly Irani

Free and/or open-source software (or F/OSS) projects now play a major and dominant role in society, constituting critical digital infrastructure relied upon by companies, academics, non-profits, activists, and more. As F/OSS has become larger and more established, we investigate the labor of maintaining and sustaining those projects at various scales.

We report findings from an interview-based study with contributors and maintainers working in a wide range of F/OSS projects. Maintainers of F/OSS projects do not just maintain software code in a more traditional software engineering understanding of the term: fixing bugs, patching security vulnerabilities, and updating dependencies.

F/OSS maintainers also perform complex and often-invisible interpersonal and organizational work to keep their projects operating as active communities of users and contributors. We particularly focus on how this labor of maintaining and sustaining changes as projects and their software grow and scale across many dimensions.

In understanding F/OSS to be as much about maintaining a communal project as it is maintaining software code, we discuss broadly applicable considerations for peer production communities and other socio-technical systems more broadly.

URL : The Labor of Maintaining and Scaling Free and Open-Source Software Projects

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Digital commons

Authors : Mélanie Dulong de Rosnay, Felix Stalder

Commons are holistic social institutions to govern the (re)production of resources, articulated through interrelated legal, socio-cultural, economic and institutional dimensions. They represent a comprehensive and radical approach to organise collective action, placing it “beyond market and state” (Bollier & Helfrich, 2012).

They form a third way of organising society and the economy that differs from both market-based approaches, with their orientation toward prices, and from bureaucratic forms of organisation, with their orientation toward hierarchies and commands. This governance model has been applied to tangible and intangible resources, to local initiatives (garden, educational material), and to resources governed by global politics (climate, internet infrastructure).

Digital commons are a subset of the commons, where the resources are data, information, culture and knowledge which are created and/or maintained online. The notion of the digital commons is an important concept for countering legal enclosure and fostering equitable access to these resources.

This article presents the history of the movement of the digital commons, from free software, free culture, and public domain works, to open data and open access to science. It then analyses its foundational dimensions (licensing, authorship, peer production, governance) and finally studies newer forms of the digital commons, urban democratic participation and data commons.

URL : Digital commons


Publication rate and citation counts for preprints released during the COVID-19 pandemic: the good, the bad and the ugly

Authors : Diego Añazco, Bryan Nicolalde, Isabel Espinosa, Jose Camacho , Mariam Mushtaq, Jimena Gimenez, Enrique Teran


Preprints are preliminary reports that have not been peer-reviewed. In December 2019, a novel coronavirus appeared in China, and since then, scientific production, including preprints, has drastically increased. In this study, we intend to evaluate how often preprints about COVID-19 were published in scholarly journals and cited.


We searched the iSearch COVID-19 portfolio to identify all preprints related to COVID-19 posted on bioRxiv, medRxiv, and Research Square from January 1, 2020, to May 31, 2020. We used a custom-designed program to obtain metadata using the Crossref public API.

After that, we determined the publication rate and made comparisons based on citation counts using non-parametric methods. Also, we compared the publication rate, citation counts, and time interval from posting on a preprint server to publication in a scholarly journal among the three different preprint servers.


Our sample included 5,061 preprints, out of which 288 were published in scholarly journals and 4,773 remained unpublished (publication rate of 5.7%). We found that articles published in scholarly journals had a significantly higher total citation count than unpublished preprints within our sample (p < 0.001), and that preprints that were eventually published had a higher citation count as preprints when compared to unpublished preprints (p < 0.001).

As well, we found that published preprints had a significantly higher citation count after publication in a scholarly journal compared to as a preprint (p < 0.001). Our results also show that medRxiv had the highest publication rate, while bioRxiv had the highest citation count and shortest time interval from posting on a preprint server to publication in a scholarly journal.


We found a remarkably low publication rate for preprints within our sample, despite accelerated time to publication by multiple scholarly journals. These findings could be partially attributed to the unprecedented surge in scientific production observed during the COVID-19 pandemic, which might saturate reviewing and editing processes in scholarly journals.

However, our findings show that preprints had a significantly lower scientific impact, which might suggest that some preprints have lower quality and will not be able to endure peer-reviewing processes to be published in a peer-reviewed journal.

URL : Publication rate and citation counts for preprints released during the COVID-19 pandemic: the good, the bad and the ugly


What Constitutes Authorship in the Social Sciences?

Author : Gernot Pruschak

Authorship represents a highly discussed topic in nowadays academia. The share of co-authored papers has increased substantially in recent years allowing scientists to specialize and focus on specific tasks.

Arising from this, social scientific literature has especially discussed author orders and the distribution of publication and citation credits among co-authors in depth. Yet only a small fraction of the authorship literature has also addressed the actual underlying question of what actually constitutes authorship.

To identify social scientists’ motives for assigning authorship, we conduct an empirical study surveying researchers around the globe. We find that social scientists tend to distribute research tasks among (individual) research team members. Nevertheless, they generally adhere to the universally applicable Vancouver criteria when distributing authorship.

More specifically, participation in every research task with the exceptions of data work as well as reviewing and remarking increases scholars’ chances to receive authorship. Based on our results, we advise journal editors to introduce authorship guidelines that incorporate the Vancouver criteria as they seem applicable to the social sciences.

We further call upon research institutions to emphasize data skills in hiring and promotion processes as publication counts might not always depict these characteristics.

URL : What Constitutes Authorship in the Social Sciences?