The evolving role of preprints in the dissemination of COVID-19 research and their impact on the science communication landscape

Resource type
Journal Article
Authors/contributors
Title
The evolving role of preprints in the dissemination of COVID-19 research and their impact on the science communication landscape
Abstract
The world continues to face a life-threatening viral pandemic. The virus underlying the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has caused over 98 million confirmed cases and 2.2 million deaths since January 2020. Although the most recent respiratory viral pandemic swept the globe only a decade ago, the way science operates and responds to current events has experienced a cultural shift in the interim. The scientific community has responded rapidly to the COVID-19 pandemic, releasing over 125,000 COVID-19–related scientific articles within 10 months of the first confirmed case, of which more than 30,000 were hosted by preprint servers. We focused our analysis on bioRxiv and medRxiv, 2 growing preprint servers for biomedical research, investigating the attributes of COVID-19 preprints, their access and usage rates, as well as characteristics of their propagation on online platforms. Our data provide evidence for increased scientific and public engagement with preprints related to COVID-19 (COVID-19 preprints are accessed more, cited more, and shared more on various online platforms than non-COVID-19 preprints), as well as changes in the use of preprints by journalists and policymakers. We also find evidence for changes in preprinting and publishing behaviour: COVID-19 preprints are shorter and reviewed faster. Our results highlight the unprecedented role of preprints and preprint servers in the dissemination of COVID-19 science and the impact of the pandemic on the scientific communication landscape.
Publication
PLOS Biology
Volume
19
Issue
4
Pages
e3000959
Date
02-Apr-2021
Journal Abbr
PLOS Biology
Language
en
ISSN
1545-7885
Accessed
05/10/2021, 18:35
Library Catalog
PLoS Journals
Extra
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Citation
Fraser, N., Brierley, L., Dey, G., Polka, J. K., Pálfy, M., Nanni, F., & Coates, J. A. (2021). The evolving role of preprints in the dissemination of COVID-19 research and their impact on the science communication landscape. PLOS Biology, 19(4), e3000959. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.3000959