West J Emerg Med. 2022 May 5;23(3):432-438. doi: 10.5811/westjem.2022.1.55029.
INTRODUCTION: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)-related articles published in emergency medicine (EM) journals provide insight into the responses of EM researchers and journal editors globally to a newly emerging infectious disease. We studied trends in the number, types, and national origins of COVID-19 literature published in EM journals to investigate knowledge transmission via scientific publication during the pandemic.
METHODS: This was a retrospective observational study. The EM journal list was adopted from the 2019 Journal Citation Reports. We retrieved data from the SCOPUS database, limited to publication year 2020, and identified COVID-19 publications when the title, abstract, or keywords included “COVID” or “SARS.” The outcome measurements were as follows: 1) monthly COVID-19 publication numbers in EM journals; 2) the percentage of COVID-19 published literature in terms of total journal publications; 3) the countries, affiliations, and authors of COVID-19-related publications; 4) the differences in the proportions of “Articles” and “Letters” between COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 publications; and 5) the total, average, and maximum number of times cited for different types of COVID-19-related scientific literature.
RESULTS: We retrieved a total of 7,457 published papers from 31 EM journals. There were 765 (10.26%) COVID-19-related publications in 27 journals contributed by 67 countries; the first authors were from 49 countries. The monthly COVID-19 publication numbers in the categories of “Letters” and “Articles” were nearly equal before July 2020. The yearly proportions of COVID-19-focused articles and letters were 48.8% and 29.9%, respectively, while non-COVID-19 proportions were 72.1% and 9.8%, respectively. The chi-squared statistic of the differences between the numbers of articles and letters in COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 published research was significant (P < .001).
CONCLUSION: An analysis of COVID-19 publications in EM journals indicated that, in the early stage of a newly emerging infectious disease, the number of letters and articles increased simultaneously. The proportion of COVID-19-focused letters was higher than those published on other topics. The “Article” and “Review” category of COVID-19 research was cited more times than that of “Letters.”