Linking Evidence to Aid researchers in tackling the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak

Steph Macdonald

As the collection of literature and resources on the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak increases, Evidence Aid is working to ensure links to the latest research are made discoverable.

Last month, we highlighted the pivotal role the open science movement has had in tackling the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak, which was first reported in Wuhan, China. As of 12 February 2020, more than 45 000 cases of 2019-nCoV have been confirmed in 28 countries across the globe. The posting of the virus’ genetic sequence to an open access repository just 10 days after initial reports of the outbreak catalysed a global effort across the research community to uncover information about the virus and how it spreads. Publishers have also played their part in ensuring that all 2019-nCoV research is made available in a timely and accessible manner. Researchers in the USA have already started working on developing a vaccine at a rate that is six times higher than the rate at which the vaccine against severe acute respiratory syndrome was developed.

There is no denying that the availability and accessibility of research outputs have helped to facilitate this rapid response; however, there is little point in a resource being open access if it is not also discoverable. The daily deluge of new research can be overwhelming and potentially makes it challenging for researchers, especially non-native English-speaking researchers, to access the resources they need.

Luckily, Evidence Aid has been busy compiling links to the entry points for all these resources into one webpage. The charity, established in 2015, uses knowledge from systematic reviews to provide an overview of evidence to help support those preparing for and responding to disasters and humanitarian and healthcare emergencies. Their unique 2019-nCoV collection provides entry points to almost 30 global resource collections, including a compilation of 102 Chinese guidelines (as of 18 February 2020). A brief description of each resource collection is also provided to help users to access the most appropriate link. On 7 February 2020, the Evidence Aid 2019-nCoV resource featured as the lead item in the World Health Organization (WHO) Science News Daily Digest – an internal news round-up distributed daily to over 1000 WHO subscribers. Evidence Aid also urges anyone with suggestions for resources to get in touch to ensure that its collection of links remain current and provides a complete picture.

Following the 100th endorsement of the Open Pharma position statement on open access, we [Open Pharma] argue that the scientific community shouldn’t wait until the next outbreak to adopt universal open access publishing. With this in mind, we must also take steps to ensure that research outputs are discoverable by working with organizations like Evidence Aid to develop collections of resources.

More information on Evidence Aid, including ways to get involved or donate to its cause, can be found here.

Evidence Aid is proud to be partnering with Oxford PharmaGenesis in 2020.