The emerging COVID-19 research: dynamic and regularly updated science maps and analyses

BMC Med Inform Decis Mak. 2020 Nov 30;20(1):309. doi: 10.1186/s12911-020-01321-9.


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic is a global public health emergency and experts emphasize the need for rapid and a high degree of communication and interaction between all parties, in order for critical research to be implemented. We introduce a resource (website) that provides bibliometric analysis showing the current content and structure of the published literature. As new research is published daily, the analysis is regularly updated to show the status as the research field develops and matures.

Methods: Two bibliometric methods were employed, the first is a keyword co-occurrence analysis, based on published work available from PubMed. The second is a bibliometric coupling analysis, based on articles available through Scopus. The results are presented as clustered network graphs; available as interactive network graphs through the webpage.

Results: For research as of March 23rd, keyword co-occurrence analysis showed that research was organized in 4 topic clusters: "Health and pandemic management", "The disease and its pathophysiology", "Clinical epidemiology of the disease" and "Treatment of the disease". Coupling analyses resulted in 4 clusters on literature that relates to "Overview of the new virus", "Clinical medicine", "On the virus" and "Reproduction rate and spread".

Conclusion: We introduced a dynamic resource that will give a wide readership an overview of how the structure of the COVID-19 literature is developing. To illustrate what this can look like, we showed the structure as it stands three months after the virus was identified; the structure is likely to change as we progress to later stages of this pandemic.

Keywords: Bibliometrics; COVID-19; Coupling analyses; Keyword co-occurrence; Network graphs; Science mapping.

MeSH terms

  • Bibliometrics*
  • Biomedical Research / trends*
  • COVID-19*
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • SARS-CoV-2