How has academia responded to the urgent needs created by COVID-19? A multi-level global, regional and national analysis

W.J. Zhao, L. Zhang*, J.L. Wang, L.L. Wang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, gaining insights into how academia has responded to this urgent challenge is of great significance. This article presents academic response patterns at a global, regional and national level from an analysis of publication volume versus reported cases of COVID-19, scientific collaboration and research focus. We also compare academic activity associated with this newly emerging infection to that related to long-standing infections. Our results show that the research community has responded quickly to COVID-19. The highly developed countries, which have the highest number of confirmed cases, are also the major academic contributors. National-level analysis reveals diverse response patterns from different countries. Specifically, academic research in the United Kingdom remained at a relatively constant level throughout the whole year (2020), while the global share of China's research output was prone to shift as its domestic pandemic status changed. Strong alliances have formed among countries with academic capabilities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The distribution of disciplines is relatively decentralised, indicating that a diverse and broad knowledge base contributes to the COVID-19 literature. Most of the analysed countries show dynamic patterns of research focus that vary over time as the pandemic evolves, except India. As one of the world's biggest suppliers of vaccines, India makes consistent efforts on vaccine research, especially those related to pharmaceutical preparations. Our findings may serve as resources for fostering strategies to respond to future threats of pandemics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)162-188
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Information Science
Issue number1
Early online date13 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • COVID-19
  • WEB
  • academic research
  • reported cases
  • response patterns


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