How the pandemic changed research

The covid-19 pandemic changed research, from how we approach collaborations to how we publish and disseminate new knowledge. Here’s some of what we learnt.

The covid-19 pandemic has impacted how research is conducted and scientific information disseminated. The immediate urgency of the virus and a highly charged socio-political environment created an intersection of diverse pressures. This provoked changes to research and publication. These have implications for the future.

You would think an international crisis would make international collaboration more popular—and at the earliest stages of the pandemic, you’d be right. Researchers from China, Australia, Scotland and the USA were among the first to share new insights publicly. But according to an article published in Nature, international collaboration in 2020 was less common than it was for coronavirus research previously. Despite that, there were more novel and cross-discipline collaborations, suggesting more people offering their expertise to develop new and creative solutions in a time of need.

There were also changes to publication. Review processes were expedited for COVID research, which had the flow on effect of slowing the publication of non-COVID research. There was higher use of preprint publications than ever before, and a new wealth of opinion pieces.

The rapid discovery and dissemination of new information formed a vital piece in the complicated puzzle of reliable modelling and public health response. But rushed reviews and greater use of preprints to inform opinion and policy had the result that, despite the best of efforts, scientific research was not always well communicated and resulted in complicated cycles of misinformation. For example, the huge increase in preprint publication meant that not all the research being cited had gone through the safeguard of peer review—it’s unclear if the importance of this distinction is well understood by the average newspaper columnist, let alone the average Twitter user.

Changes that came about because of the pandemic have affected the research landscape: they’ve made us aware of the shortcomings of the present publication models, and exposed weaknesses in how we handle and share new information. Undoubtedly a major challenge on the horizon for science communicators will be accounting for the rapid pace of publication and the dissemination of quality information to an increasingly active community of lay people.

ResearchMaster gives you the tools you need to streamline the entire research lifecycle. For more information, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Blog Categories