Journal of Data and Information Science

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How has Covid-19 Affected Published Academic Research? A Content Analysis of Journal Articles Mentioning the Virus

Mike Thelwall1†, Saheeda Thelwall2   

  1. 1Statistical Cybermetrics Research Group, University of Wolverhampton, UK;
    2Institute of Health, University of Wolverhampton, UK
  • Received:2021-05-15 Revised:2021-06-23 Accepted:2021-07-21 Online:2021-07-29 Published:2021-07-29
  • Contact: † Mike Thelwall (E-mail: m.thelwall@wlv.ac.uk; ORCID: 0000-0001-6065-205X).

Abstract: Purpose: Methods to tackle Covid-19 have been developed by a wave of biomedical research but the pandemic has also influenced many aspects of society, generating a need for research into its consequences, and potentially changing the way existing topics are investigated. This article investigates the nature of this influence on the wider academic research mission.
Design/methodology/approach: This article reports an inductive content analysis of 500 randomly selected journal articles mentioning Covid-19, as recorded by the Dimensions scholarly database on 19 March 2021. Covid-19 mentions were coded for the influence of the disease on the research.
Findings: Whilst two thirds of these articles were about biomedicine (e.g. treatments, vaccines, virology), or health services in response to Covid-19, others covered the pandemic economy, society, safety, or education. In addition, some articles were not about the pandemic but stated that Covid-19 had increased or decreased the value of the reported research or changed the context in which it was conducted.
Research limitations: The findings relate only to Covid-19 influences declared in published journal articles.
Practical implications: Research managers and funders should consider whether their current procedures are effective in supporting researchers to address the evolving demands of pandemic societies, particularly in terms of timeliness.
Originality/value: The results show that although health research dominates the academic response to Covid-19, it is more widely disrupting academic research with new demands and challenges.

Key words: Covid-19, Pandemic, Bibliometrics, Scientometrics, Publication analysis, Research management