The Effects of the COVID pandemic on Research
As the global Covid-19 pandemic was affecting millions of people around the world, various researchers in the fields of medicine, engineering, biotechnology, and clinical medicine began to conduct research about the treatment and control of this disease. However, the disease has placed many limitations on researchers in other fields and it has caused the scientific output of research centers and universities to undergo many changes. The number of articles published decreased due to quarantine and the lockdown of research centers. As figure 1 illustrates, the number of articles indexed in Scopus indicates that the pandemic has negatively affected research.
Figure 1. Effect of Covid-19 on the number of documents in all subject areas according to Scimago/Scopus from 2018 to 2021
According to Scopus, more than 86,000 articles were published in 2020 on Covid-19 and its effects on people's lives in the fields of medicine, humanities, biochemistry, nursing, engineering, psychology, and other fields. This number has increased by about 80% for 2021 and has reached approximately 159,000 articles. Covid-19 has caused a great deal of change in the world, not only because of the disease itself but also because of the long-term effects of the global response to it. A lesson that academic society learned from Covid-19 pandemic is that it is possible we face such a problem again in the future and we should be ready for it.
Covid-19 has led to a decline in research in other areas and, consequently, a decrease in the number of articles compared to previous years. As shown in Figure 1, the year before the Covid-19 pandemic (i.e. 2019), the growth of article publishing compared to 2018 had reached 7%, which in 2020 compared to 2019 has decreased to 6.2%. However, there was no growth in 2021, and it was 2% less than the previous year. As mentioned above, the number of research papers on Covid-19 has increased by 80%.
As we know, data collection, article writing, article submission, and review is a long processes. Therefore, the number of articles in 2020 has continued to increase because the data and article submission process was done in 2019, before the prevalence of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, many research centers, laboratories, universities, and service centers were closed or semi-closed due to the pandemic causing a decrease in the number of research outputs in 2021.
The effects of Covid-19 on the number of documents in different subject areas are shown in figure 2 for 4 consecutive years i.e. 2018 to 2021. As expected, in some subject areas, research outputs are increased regardless of the pandemic. Biochemistry, Genetics, Molecular Biology, Environmental Science, Immunology, Microbiology, Neuroscience, Nursing, and Psychology showed significant increases in research articles. However, in some areas, such as Medicine and Computer Science, it has decreased even though it was expected to increase. It is maybe because of focusing on the covid treatment for medicine and trying to develop different platforms for online learning for computer science.
Figure 2. Effect of Covid-19 on the number of documents in different subject areas according to Scimago/Scopus from 2018 to 2021
As mentioned, due to the closure of universities and research institutes, some experiments and research studies remained incomplete and resumed after the pandemic subsided. As a result, the growth of article publishing has slowed, and this can continue until the pandemic is resolved*.
COVID-19 has led to numerous scientific restrictions around the world. Scientific research has been severely damaged, especially with regard to quarantine practices across countries. The level of international cooperation is expected to increase significantly to shape the future of scientific research, with the advent of virtual and telecommunication methods for dissemination and communication.
* Sohrabi, C., Mathew, G., Franchi, T., Kerwan, A., Griffin, M., Del Mundo, J. S. C., ... & Agha, R. (2021). Impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on scientific research and implications for clinical academic training–a review. International Journal of Surgery.