Tracking openness and topic evolution of COVID-19 publications: a comprehensive analysis (January 2020- March 2021)


The COVID-19 outbreak showed the importance of rapid access to research.


This paper investigates research communication about this disease, the level of openness of papers, and the main topics of research into this disease.


Thus, it analyses Open Access (OA) uptake (typologies, licence use) and the topic evolution of publications, from the start of the pandemic (1 January 2020) until the end of a year of widespread lockdown (1 March 2021).


The sample includes 95,605 publications; 94.1% were published for open access, 44% of them in Bronze OA. 42% do not have a licence, which can limit the number of citations, and thus impact. We also illustrated an approach that uses a topic modelling method and found that publications in Hybrid and Green OA publications are more focused on patients and their effects whereas the strategy adopted by countries is studied more in papers that have chosen the Gold OA route.


The study concludes that although OA scientific production has increased, some weaknesses in Open Access practise, such as lack of licensing or under-researched topics, still hold back its effective use to further research.


Library Publishing Programs at Capacity: Addressing Issues of Sustainability and Scalability

Introduction: This article discusses the changes to overall goals, direction, and services that were made to two library publishing programs at Pacific University and the University of South Florida when they were no longer able to grow their programs due to an inability to hire additional staff and COVID-19-instigated staff reassignments. Description of Programs: Pacific University’s publishing program grew out of its institutional repository and, at its peak, published seven open access journals. In addition, Pacific University Libraries founded a University Press in 2016, which has published six books as of 2021. The University of South Florida’s publishing program began publishing open access journals in 2008, and it has grown to include over 20 journals. Lessons Learned: Both the Pacific University and the University of South Florida publishing programs have faced scalability and sustainability issues, which were further exacerbated by COVID-19. The focus of our library publishing programs, as well as many others, has been on continual growth, which is not sustainable without the ability to hire additional staff or allocate staff time differently. We argue that standardizing services as well as creating a business plan can help ensure that publishing programs are sustainable and scalable. Next Steps: We hope to begin a conversation among library publishers about acknowledging limits and creating achievable definitions of success outside of continual growth.

Free Access to Thousands of COVID-19 Research Documents – IEEE Spectrum

Experts say the COVID-19 virus is likely to be around for some time, even with vaccines, as it continues to spread and mutate. There are still many unknowns, so it’s important to keep researching the coronavirus. That’s why IEEE is making thousands of COVID-related research documents that have been published in its journals available for free.

The State of Open Data 2020 #StateOfOpenData – Digital Science

“Our portfolio company, Figshare, has today launched its annual report The State of Open Data 2020. The report is the fifth in the series and includes survey results and a collection of articles from global industry experts, as well as a foreword from Dr Leslie McIntosh, CEO of Ripeta and Executive Director, Emeritus – Research Data Alliance US.

The State of Open Data is now the longest running longitudinal study on the subject, which was created in 2016, to examine attitudes and experiences of researchers working with open data – sharing it, reusing it, and redistributing it.

This year’s survey received around 4,500 responses from the research community and had an additional focus on research practices in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. It asked researchers how the pandemic was impacting their ability to carry out research, and their views on reuse of data and collaboration….”

A Lesson of the Pandemic: All Prints Should Be Preprints

“As of this week, roughly 10,000 preprints about the novel coronavirus were available on the preprint servers bioRxiv and medRxiv alone, a remarkable feat given that this virus has existed for less than a year. Collectively, these preprints have put vital research information into circulation much faster than would have been possible under the traditional academic publishing model, in which emerging knowledge is sequestered until it clears peer review. Although peer review has long been held up as the gold standard of academic publication, the flowering of preprints during the pandemic gives the lie to the fiction that pre-publication peer review is essential to ensuring scholarly rigor. In a fast-moving era of digital information, preprints should become the new normal….

Moreover, the pandemic has inspired the emergence of several third-party services that review or curate published preprints. PreLights, a preprint review site supported by the not-for-profit publisher The Company of Biologists, maintains a running timeline of what they deem to be “landmark” preprints about the biology and transmission of the novel coronavirus. Each entry gives a brief description of why the preprint is important, along with a direct link to the paper. As of this writing, they have highlighted approximately 125 preprints, providing a useful filtration system for the thousands of preprints that have been published about the coronavirus….”

“Copyright limits and learning: lessons from the covid-19 quarantine”, by Carys Craig.

“Though copyright law is the root of the problem, it is also the source of potential solutions. As the Supreme Court of Canada has stated, copyright is supposed to achieve “a balance between promoting the public interest in the encouragement and dissemination of works of the arts and intellect and obtaining a just reward for the creator.” Indeed, many of the activities about which my fellow educators worried are already protected within the scope of users’ rights. Canada’s Copyright Act contains exceptions for reading in public, for education and training (including for lessons communicated online), and a fair dealing defence for the purposes of education or private study. These provisions are to be interpreted with a view to the copyright balance, which “should be preserved in the digital environment.” If reading aloud to a class or showing an illustrative image on a PowerPoint slide was lawful in a classroom, it should be lawful in the online classroom.

The problem is that the specific educational exceptions are narrowly drawn and difficult to understand and satisfy, while the broader fair dealing defence requires a context-specific case-by-case assessment, making educators and their institutions reluctant to rely upon it. The result is a permission-first or ‘clear-for-fear’ culture that undermines user rights and unduly restricts the educational activities of teachers and students….”