(Photo: Dixon Tam)

(Photo: Dixon Tam)

Ever-changing pandemic pressures scientific research publication: SFU study

Publication of preliminary studies caused confusion in early pandemic days, research finds

As the world grappled with the uncertain, ever-changing world of COVID-19, researchers and journalists were compelled to rethink the way they distribute information in the pandemic.

A new study led by Simon Fraser University has found the urgency and volatility of the virus has shaken the traditional publication protocols of the scientific and media communities.

“The urgency of the pandemic required researchers and journalists to sacrifice assurances of peer review for more rapid publication,” said Juan Pablo Alperin, publishing program professor with SFU. “Just as researchers are adjusting to the new way of rapidly communicating among each other, so too are journalists figuring out how that greater uncertainty needs to be conveyed to the public.”

RELATED: B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Researchers say a combination of the expectation and need for credible health information and the breakneck pace of online news put significant pressure on the research process. Especially during the early days of the pandemic, this at times led to preliminary or “preprint” studies being misconstrued as peer-reviewed, confirmed information.

“We saw [confusion] with a couple of high profile preprints published at the beginning of the pandemic, for example, which linked tobacco to COVID-19 prevention,” said Alice Fleerackers, researcher in the Scholarly Communications Lab.

“These studies were highly flawed, but they got a ton of media coverage—sparking unnecessary panic and even encouraging some people to pick up smoking.”

RELATED: University of Victoria scientists study plants for use in COVID-19 antibody tests

Amid a constantly evolving approach to understanding and fighting back against COVID-19, Fleerackers noted news consumption during the pandemic has seen a boost in many countries.

“Journalists have not had an easy year. All things considered, I’m impressed with what they’ve been able to accomplish despite the odds,” she added. “And overall, audiences seem to be responding well. Many countries saw a boost in news consumption during the early stages of the pandemic, and trust in journalism has been high.”

The SFU-led study included research from scholars in the United States and Australia.


 

@ashwadhwani
adam.louis@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirusresearch

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The City of Salmon Arm's budget for 2021 includes funding for design work for the renovation of the recreation centre. (File photo)
Covid funding helps Salmon Arm city council reduce tax increase for 2021

Roads to receive needed work this year, pool upgrade design to commence

Columbia Shuswap Regional District staff reviewed its policies around health and safety after an employee tested positive for COVID-19. (File photo)
CSRD reviews COVID-19 policy after employee tests positive

City of Salmon Arm says only one of its staff has tested positive since March

Salmon Arm Secondary student Karly Irmen collected almost 300 lbs of food for the Salvation Army Food bank and dropped it off on Tuesday, Jan. 19. (Jim Elliot-Salmon Arm Observer)
Salmon Arm Secondary student organizes 295-lb food bank donation

A large amount of clothes was also collected to support local Salvation Army

The BC SPCA is adapting its fundraising after cancelling events due to COVID-19 restrictions. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
BC SPCA gets creative with fundraising as pandemic continues

The non-profit’s in-person fundraising events all had to be cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions

Vancouver Canucks’ Travis Hamonic grabs Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson by the face during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horvat scores winner as Canucks dump Habs 6-5 in shootout thriller

Vancouver and Montreal clash again Thursday night

Interior Health has declared the Cariboo Chilcotin a community cluster. (Angie Mindus photo)
Interior Health declares Cariboo Chilcotin region a COVID-19 cluster, 215 cases since Jan. 1

Most cases are related to transmission at social events and gatherings in Williams Lake

Vernon Fire Rescue Services responded to a single-vehicle rollover Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, after a vehicle came into contact with a pedestrian light pole at Kalamalka Lake Road and 14th Avenue. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Minor injuries in rollover after vehicle hits Vernon crosswalk pole

The vehicle flipped onto its side, closing Kalamalka Lake Road

Penticton city council heard from Dhorea Ramanula, of Paid Employment for People with Lived Experiences Tuesday, Jan. 19. Ramanula’s organization has operated public washrooms in Kelowna staffed by community support workers since April, she says Penticton could benefit from a similar facility. (Michael Rodriguez - Kelowna Capital News)
Penticton interested in new public washroom concept to combat vandalism

Public washrooms with on-site support staff have been operating in Kelowna since April

Canada Post had remove a lot of letter boxes around Penticton after they were vandalized. This letter box at the United Church on Main St. remains unscathed. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Street mailbox vandals strike Penticton drop boxes

Canada Post had to remove a bunch of the vandalized units

Esa Carriere, 23, was the victim of a 2018 Canada Day homicide. (File)
Youth sentenced in Kelowna Canada Day killing

Young woman pleaded guilty to lesser assault charge, sentenced to 15-month intensive support and supervision program

A rendering of UBC’s planned downtown Kelowna campus. (Contributed)
Kelowna’s new downtown campus to help alleviate UBCO’s space crunch

The sizable development is anticipated to be completed by the fall 2024 semester

Most Read