Publishing volumes in major databases related to Covid-19

Scientometrics. 2021;126(1):831-842. doi: 10.1007/s11192-020-03675-3. Epub 2020 Aug 28.


The SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes Covid-19, induced a global pandemic for which an effective cure, either in the form of a drug or vaccine, has yet to be discovered. In the few brief months that the world has known Covid-19, there has been an unprecedented volume of papers published related to this disease, either in a bid to find solutions, or to discuss applied or related aspects. Data from Clarivate Analytics' Web of Science, and Elsevier's Scopus, which do not index preprints, were assessed. Our estimates indicate that 23,634 unique documents, 9960 of which were in common to both databases, were published between January 1 and June 30, 2020. Publications include research articles, letters, editorials, notes and reviews. As one example, amongst the 21,542 documents in Scopus, 47.6% were research articles, 22.4% were letters, and the rest were reviews, editorials, notes and other. Based on both databases, the top three countries, ranked by volume of published papers, are the USA, China, and Italy while BMJ, Journal of Medical Virology and The Lancet published the largest number of Covid-19-related papers. This paper provides one snapshot of how the publishing landscape has evolved in the first six months of 2020 in response to this pandemic and discusses the risks associated with the speed of publications.

Keywords: Acceptance and rejection; Biomedicine; Correction of the literature; Open access; Peer review; Preprints; Retractions; SARS-CoV-2 virus.