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In BMC medical research methodology

BACKGROUND : Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in December 2019, a substantial body of COVID-19 medical literature has been generated. As of June 2020, gaps and longitudinal trends in the COVID-19 medical literature remain unidentified, despite potential benefits for research prioritisation and policy setting in both the COVID-19 pandemic and future large-scale public health crises.

METHODS : In this paper, we searched PubMed and Embase for medical literature on COVID-19 between 1 January and 24 March 2020. We characterised the growth of the early COVID-19 medical literature using evidence maps and bibliometric analyses to elicit cross-sectional and longitudinal trends and systematically identify gaps.

RESULTS : The early COVID-19 medical literature originated primarily from Asia and focused mainly on clinical features and diagnosis of the disease. Many areas of potential research remain underexplored, such as mental health, the use of novel technologies and artificial intelligence, pathophysiology of COVID-19 within different body systems, and indirect effects of COVID-19 on the care of non-COVID-19 patients. Few articles involved research collaboration at the international level (24.7%). The median submission-to-publication duration was 8 days (interquartile range: 4-16).

CONCLUSIONS : Although in its early phase, COVID-19 research has generated a large volume of publications. However, there are still knowledge gaps yet to be filled and areas for improvement for the global research community. Our analysis of early COVID-19 research may be valuable in informing research prioritisation and policy planning both in the current COVID-19 pandemic and similar global health crises.

Liu Nan, Chee Marcel Lucas, Niu Chenglin, Pek Pin Pin, Siddiqui Fahad Javaid, Ansah John Pastor, Matchar David Bruce, Lam Sean Shao Wei, Abdullah Hairil Rizal, Chan Angelique, Malhotra Rahul, Graves Nicholas, Koh Mariko Siyue, Yoon Sungwon, Ho Andrew Fu Wah, Ting Daniel Shu Wei, Low Jenny Guek Hong, Ong Marcus Eng Hock


COVID-19, Coronavirus, Evidence gap map, Review, SARS-CoV-2