Covid-19 pandemic and the unprecedented mobilisation of scholarly efforts prompted by a health crisis: Scientometric comparisons across SARS, MERS and 2019-nCov literature

06/01/2020
by   Milad Haghani, et al.
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During the current century, each major coronavirus outbreak has triggered a quick surge of academic publications on this topic. The spike in research publications following the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19), however, has been like no other. The global crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has mobilised scientific efforts in an unprecedented way. In less than five months, more than 12,000 research items have been indexed while the number increasing every day. With the crisis affecting all aspects of life, research on Covid-19 seems to have become a focal point of interest across many academic disciplines. Here, scientometric aspects of the Covid-19 literature are analysed and contrasted with those of the two previous major Coronavirus diseases, i.e. SARS and MERS. The focus is on the co-occurrence of key-terms, bibliographic coupling and citation relations of journals and collaborations between countries. Certain recurring patterns across all three literatures were discovered. All three outbreaks have commonly generated three distinct and major cohort of studies: (i) studies linked to the public health response and epidemic control, (ii) studies associated with the chemical constitution of the virus and (iii) studies related to treatment, vaccine and clinical care. While studies affiliated with the category (i) seem to have been the first to emerge, they overall received least numbers of citations compared to those of the two other categories. Covid-19 studies seem to have been distributed across a broader variety of journals and subject areas. Clear links are observed between the geographical origins of each outbreak or the local geographical severity of each outbreak and the magnitude of research originated from regions. Covid-19 studies also display the involvement of authors from a broader variety of countries compared to SARS and MRS.

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