How much has the new Coronavirus affected Open Science and Opens Access relationship?

How much has the new Coronavirus affected Open Science and Opens Access? 

Despite the preparation of pandemic plans, Covid-19 has caught many governments unprepared. However, in the space of a few months, clinical research was able to experiment different medical protocols to stem the infection at a global level. How was it possible? 

On 30 March 2020, UNESCO hosted a meeting of representatives of science ministries to foster international cooperation in science increasing investments in research integrating open science in their research programs to mitigate the global crise. It was clear enough that without a global effort and cooperation no efficient solutions would be find in time.

To estimate the Covid-19 effect on scientific publications, a quick analysis was carried out through Scopus, the largest abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature: scientific journals, books and conference proceedings are indexed to deliver a comprehensive overview of the world’s research output in the fields of science, technology, medicine, social sciences, arts and humanities. Scopus features smart tools to track, analyze and visualize research production too.

We searched the engine with topic “COVID-19” in title and abstract publications. As a result, we retrieved 97.518 articles, 86% of which in 2020, the new year shows 13456 publication only in the first month showing an even growing effort than the year before. 

Of the total publication amount, over the 80% is released in Open Access format including:

  • Gold Open, 24532 documents that are in journals which only publish open access
  • Hybrid Gold, 6695 documents that are in journals which provide authors the choice of publishing open access
  • Bronze, 37785 are published version of record or manuscript accepted for publication. The publisher has chosen to provide temporary or permanent free access
  • Green, 55169 published version or manuscript accepted for publication, available at repository

Obviously, USA and China lead the country classification (fig. 2).

The chart below (Fig.3) shows also another interesting finding. As the Covid-19 as a ‘total social fact’ affects our life, economy, politics, environment, the number of publications related to Covid-19 come from many scientific areas. Obviously, a large number of publications in the medical area were to be expected. However, publishing so much content in non-medical areas point to a recent trend. Scientific facts are becoming more holistic needing interdisciplinarity to be fully understand. This will be for sure a future for the Open Science paradigm.

In 2016 the European Commission has proposed the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) initiative as part of the European Cloud Initiative to build a competitive data and knowledge economy in Europe. An extensive consultation with scientific and institutional stakeholders took place in 2016 and 2017. An engagement process was initiated with a first EOSC Summit in June 2017, resulting in the EOSC Declaration endorsed by more than 70 institutions. The summary outcome of the consultation was presented in March 2018 by the European Commission in the form of a roadmap for implementing the EOSC to 2022. Well, the data collected by Scopus seem to follow the steps of the above roadmap, as shown in the following graph.

<<The benefit and positive impact of Open Science is being seen as scientists and publishers are sharing information in order to understand and combat the fast-evolving COVID-19 global pandemic. Data surrounding the biology, epidemiology and clinical characteristics of the COVID-19 have been growing daily, with more than 400 articles listed in PubMed (research paper database) according to the Journal of the American Medical Association>> (EOSCA,, 23/03/2020.

Open Access and  Open Science can bring together institutional, national and international stakeholders, initiatives and data infrastructures to develop an inclusive open science ecosystem.

This can lead new insights and innovations, higher research productivity and improved reproducibility in science.