The impact of COVID-19 has underlined the need for reliable information to guide clinical practice and policy. This urgency has to be balanced against disruption to journal handling capacity and the continued need to ensure scientific rigour. We examined the reporting quality of highly disseminated COVID-19 research papers using a bibliometric analysis examining reporting quality and risk of bias (RoB) amongst 250 top scoring Altmetric Attention Score (AAS) COVID-19 research papers between January and April 2020. Method-specific RoB tools were used to assess quality. After exclusions, 84 studies from 44 journals were included. Forty-three (51%) were case series/studies, and only one was an randomized controlled trial. Most authors were from institutions based in China (n = 44, 52%). The median AAS and impact factor was 2015 (interquartile range [IQR] 1,105-4,051.5) and 12.8 (IQR 5-44.2) respectively. Nine studies (11%) utilized a formal reporting framework, 62 (74%) included a funding statement, and 41 (49%) were at high RoB. This review of the most widely disseminated COVID-19 studies highlights a preponderance of low-quality case series with few research papers adhering to good standards of reporting. It emphasizes the need for cautious interpretation of research and the increasingly vital responsibility that journals have in ensuring high-quality publications.
Keywords: COVID‐19; altmetrics; coronavirus Infections; pandemics; publication impact; quality.
© 2021 The Authors. Learned Publishing published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of ALPSP.