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Highly cited early COVID research is of a generally low quality

Summarised by Centrist

Professor Dennis M. Gorman’s recent review of 74 COVID papers published in 2020, during the pandemic, revealed that the surge of COVID research was generally of a lower quality.  

Despite high citation rates (one study was cited over 11,000 times), many studies relied on poor research methods, raising doubts about the reliability of evidence guiding policies. 

Gorman says:

“High citation of low-quality research increases the chance that poor evidence is being used to inform policies, further eroding public confidence in science.”

The effectiveness and integrity of research relies heavily on robust methods, such as the inclusion of control groups in intervention studies and adherence to standards in systematic reviews. 

However, adhering to these standards can slow down research processes. Gorman says that many times COVID papers were accepted after being submitted in a matter of a few weeks. Non COVID papers, in the same journal would take months prior to the pandemic. 

Overall, COVID papers were of a lower methodological quality and less likely to adhere to reporting standards than non-COVID papers. 

Gorman blames a ‘publish or perish’ incentive system, which pushes researchers to make bold claims. On the flipside, criticising those claims “can be misinterpreted as throwing fuel on the raging fire of anti-science.”

Read more over at The Conversation

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