Keep up to date with new research literature related to COVID-19
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has galvanized the global scientific community to take unprecedented action aimed at learning more about the disease, sharing knowledge immediately, and undertaking concerted evidence-based efforts to manage the situation.
Calls for ensuring that all research findings relevant to COVID-19 be made openly and promptly available had begun to be issued as early as in January, and in March, UNESCO mobilized countries to promote open science and data sharing to manage this crisis. Simultaneously, the World Health Organization (WHO) published a global research roadmap for COVID-19. This document highlighted knowledge gaps and drew up timelines for the implementation of specific research actions.
Ever since, thousands of articles on various research topics related to COVID-19 have been published open access after peer review or made available in preprint servers. The volume of research literature on COVID-19 has been reported to be doubling every two weeks. This is an extraordinary feat considering that SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 were unknown just a few months back. However, the staggering increase in the volume of COVID-19–related papers, while a great boon for researchers, also poses a unique challenge: that of finding information of interest quickly.
In normal times, researchers in the health or life sciences have been reported to spend between 12 and 15 hours per week on scholarly readings, with the average time spent on reading one article being 30 minutes.1 And this does not even include the time spent on finding what to read.
In the face of this global public health emergency, COVID-19 researchers will likely have to accommodate much more searching and reading into their schedules than they did before. Every day is bringing in new data, and they have to stay up to date with the progress and latest developments in their area of interest. Never before has the need for smart information-retrieval tools combined with human curation of knowledge been more compelling.
Anticipating these challenges, Cactus Communications recently launched a unique platform that minimizes the need for COVID-19 researchers to trawl through multiple sources for research findings and resources. The idea behind the platform was to ensure that researchers have everything they need in one place. It was to not only facilitate access to research papers but also offer as many benefits and interlinked features as possible that will make their lives easier at a time like this.
This one-stop platform comprises several sections, with each offering distinct benefits:
- A regularly updated repository of literature related to COVID-19. The current corpus covers over 150,000 articles which are published in English and various non-English languages. The platform uses search features powered by state-of-the-art artificial intelligence (AI) technology. In addition, it has a list of registered clinical trials related to COVID-19 from around the world, with accompanying details and summaries of the trial objectives and methodology. It also has a list of available COVID-19 datasets.
- Literature summaries. This section contains literature summaries on themes such as epidemiology, investigational drugs, and adjunctive therapy. These are written by subject matter experts after carefully reading papers indexed in trusted sources such as PubMed and present an overview of the current understanding of a topic. This section can be a good start for those searching for literature on specific topics.
- Recommendations and Popular Reads. Subject matter experts filter research papers as well as news and popular content of high relevance and interest and provide plain-language summaries of the content for easy reading.
- Q&A forum. This section is aimed at bringing together COVID-19 researchers from multiple disciplines to ask questions to one another, discuss challenges, and share ideas and resources.
- Webinars: Experts are invited to talk about their understanding of and insights into COVID-19–related topics and answer participant questions.
- Stories of academic life: Researchers from all broad disciplines share their perspectives and experiences on life as an academic during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The major advantage of this site is that it goes beyond merely using AI to aggregate COVID-19–related data. It offers a combination of content and resources that, in addition to being AI-selected, are human-curated. This adds an additional layer of relevance and trust that can potentially reduce the effort spent in searching for information. The platform also offers scope for human interaction through live webinars and the Q&A forum, and can therefore help initiate collaborations and foster real-time knowledge sharing.
As a global scholarly communications company that has served researchers for eighteen years, we are keenly aware of the challenges faced by researchers even in normal times. We can only imagine how much pressure those at the frontlines of COVID-19 research must be under now. They have to process a vast amount information as quickly and thoroughly as they can while carrying out their other research responsibilities and, in some cases, managing risks to their personal well-being. We believe that having a one-stop platform that addresses at least some of their major challenges effectively will go a long way in helping them find strategies to resolve this global crisis.
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