PRP081: Ensuring rapid and high-quality scientific dissemination of COVID-19 research: a cross sectional study of published articles

patrick redmond, PhD, MBChB; Amandeep Khatter, BSc; Hajira Dambha-Miller, MD, PhD; Michael Naughton


The high rates of morbidity and mortality associated with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) have underlined the need for the rapid dissemination of reliable information to guide clinical practice and health policy. This urgency is balanced by the disruption in journal handling capacity and the continued need to ensure scientific rigour and high standards of ‘journalology’. In the absence of editorial consensus, journals have responded in varying ways - by prioritising COVID-19 topics for fast track publication, increasing the availability of pre-print articles, waiving fees, and promoting open access.

The aim of this project is to examine the reporting quality and peer review process of a random sample of COVID-19 articles in health science journals and develop an editorial guide for biomedical journals to ensure efficiency and quality in publications at times of crisis.

Study Design and Analysis
Cross-sectional study.

We conducted a descriptive, cross-sectional study of a random sample of COVID19 articles across the biomedical literature. We systematically searched PubMed and Embase using MeSH and free terms identifying COVID19 related published scientific articles between 1st January 2020 and 28th April 2020. We excluded editorials, letters, preprints, and news reports.

Population studied
A random sample of ten percent were selected to examine study and manuscript descriptives as well as individual study quality.

Where available, we reported the journal title, peer review process, submission to publication time, citation metrics, risk of bias, and study design.

Outcome measures
Quality appraisal was determined by adherence to the relevant Mixed Methods Appraisal (MMAT) tool checklist.

A total of 1482 COVID19 articles were identified. Of these, 148 were selected for in-depth analysis.

Expected outcomes
This study will report the quality of studies and the peer review process of articles published on COVID19 in the early stages of the pandemic. The results will provide evidence in developing a novel evidence-informed editorial guide to ensure both efficiency and quality in publication science at times of crisis.

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