EWHA's Research Power for Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences
January, 2024
EWHA's Research Power for Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences


Global COVID-19 Policy Engagement with Scientific Research Information: Altmetric Data Study


by Prof. Ho Young Yoon
Division of Communication & Media
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Figure. Global network map of COVID-19–related research topics.
(* AfricanU: African Union; EU: European Union; IADBank: Inter-American Development Bank; OECD: Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development; UN: United Nations; WHO: World Health Organization)

The study offers an insightful exploration into how global health organizations and governments have interacted with scientific research during the COVID-19 pandemic. This research utilizes network data sets to visualize the intricate web of connections between countries, research topics, and policy documents. This approach is instrumental in elucidating the dynamics of information flow and the interdependencies that have shaped the global response to COVID-19.

This paper offers an analysis on the ways in which international health organizations and countries have collaborated on scientific research during the COVID-19 epidemic. This study uses a variety of datasets to create networks that show the intricate web of relationships between countries. The study's methodology is essential to understanding the interdependencies and dynamics of information flow that have shaped how people around the world have responded to COVID-19.

The study specifically used a citation metric known as Altmetrics, which is a term for metrics that go beyond simple citation counts to assess the influence and scope of scholarly work. Numerous sources, such as news articles, policy documents, social media mentions, and online reference managers, are used to generate Altmetrics. Thus, Altmetrics provide a more comprehensive and real-time picture of how research is utilized, discussed, and shared in the digital era. A more dynamic and modern viewpoint on the impact of research is offered through Altmetrics. It contains information from the instantaneous responses and exchanges of a wide range of people, including the public, policymakers, practitioners, and the media. This was particularly important in light of COVID-19, where it has been essential to quickly disseminate and apply scientific knowledge.

After adding altmetrics to the analysis, the World Health Organization (WHO) was revealed to have been instrumental. Being the most often cited organization in the relevant scientific publications, the WHO becomes apparent as a significant player in the field of COVID-19 research. This statistic highlights the organization's role in directing international health policies and distributing vital research results. In addition to the WHO, other national and international organizations have made substantial contributions to the dissemination of knowledge and the development of the conversation surrounding the pandemic. Documents outlining policy place a high priority on the development and application of vaccines. This illustrates the urgency and widespread interest in identifying a way to stop the spread of the virus.

The analysis also shows a clear bias in organizational and regional influence. Academic institutions and think tanks in the United States and Europe have been the main sources of research citations. This pattern suggests a certain concentration of power and expertise in the Western Hemisphere, which may have an effect on how the epidemic is understood and handled globally. In this way, the analysis also highlights notable differences in the research network around the globe. For instance, the presence of Asian nations is conspicuously lacking. The lack of these viewpoints in the global discourse indicates the need for more inclusive and diverse approaches in both research and policymaking through the study of scientific knowledge dissemination. This gap may be attributed to a number of factors, including technical, linguistic, or methodological differences in data collection and dissemination.

Stated differently, the paper offers a sophisticated Altmetric analysis of the point where COVID-19 research and policy converge. It highlights the inequities and biases in the global research network while also highlighting the significant influence that specific organizations and geographical areas had in determining the pandemic response. The results underscore the significance of implementing more inclusive research and policy formulation approaches. These kinds of approaches are essential to solving global issues like the COVID-19 pandemic fairly and successfully.

The study provides insightful information for potential public health emergencies in the future. It draws attention to the necessity of an international framework that takes into account various points of view and guarantees fair access to scientific resources and information. The international community can be better equipped to respond to future health emergencies in a more coordinated and efficient manner by addressing the gaps and biases in the current system. All things considered, the study serves as a powerful reminder of the value of cooperation, diversity, and flexibility in the face of global health issues. It is a call to action for researchers, politicians, and global health organizations to cultivate a more equitable and integrated research environment. Establishing a robust and comprehensive strategy to address the current pandemic and future global health risks requires precisely this kind of environment.

* Related Article
Han Woo Park, Ho Young Yoon, Global COVID-19 policy engagement with scientific research information: altmetric data study, Journal of Medical Internet Research, 25, e46328, June 2023

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