By the Numbers

Has there ever been a time when academic research received more attention?

When reporters cite numbers related to the coronavirus pandemic, they usually are an accounting of grim milestones – so many new cases in one state or another country, so many more deaths within a hot zone of illness. Yet not all numbers on COVID-19 are quite so bleak.


The global scientific and medical community have dramatically stepped up the pace of research about COVID-19. According to the research data platform Dimensions, which includes preprints and datasets alongside more traditional research outputs such as journal articles, over 15,000 journal publications have appeared related to the pandemic in just the few short months since the disease emerged.

“This is a unique moment in scientific research communication history,” says Mike Taylor, Head of Metrics Development for Digital Science, whose portfolio of companies includes Altmetric as well as Dimensions.


As of this writing, there are currently 583 articles about Coronavirus in PubMed with an Altmetric value of over 500. This list updates automatically every 5 minutes.

“It’s extraordinary to see how quickly researchers are focusing on this problem, and also really interesting to see who’s doing this work – where about is this work happening?

“For example, we might think of this as being purely a medical issue or an issue of virology or epidemiology. Actually, there are all sorts of things going on here,” Taylor tells CCC’s Chris Kenneally. “We’re seeing people talking about planning and tourism and travel, communication, public health. Really, this is one virus, but it’s a phenomenon in 12, 13, 14 different fields. Understanding that and understanding how we listen to research is really interesting.”

Author: Christopher Kenneally

Christopher Kenneally hosts CCC's Velocity of Content podcast series, which debuted in 2006 and is the longest continuously running podcast covering the publishing industry. As CCC's Senior Director, Marketing, he is responsible for organizing and hosting programs that address the business needs of all stakeholders in publishing and research. His reporting has appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, The Independent (London), WBUR-FM, NPR, and WGBH-TV.
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