This report explores the impact of calls to rapidly and openly share COVID-19 research findings to inform the public health response, as recommended in the 2020 Joint Statement published by Wellcome. It reflects on how open and rapid sharing shaped the global pandemic response and behaviour of the research community, and sets out recommendations for organisations who may wish to develop statements as a policy tool.
This work was commissioned by Wellcome, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and delivered jointly by Research Consulting and Science-Metrix. An Executive Summary is available via Zenodo.
- An investigation into the impact of the Joint Statement and how it may have affected the open sharing behaviours of its signatories.
- An overview of the open research landscape during the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Recommendations for organisations who may want to utilise statements as a policy tool.
- Policy makers
- Scientific publishers
- Anyone interested in open science, and how open sharing practices were affected during the Covid-19 pandemic
A total of 160 organisations signed the Joint Statement – including research funders, research performing organisations, publishers and learned societies. The study involved a mixture of desk research, key informant interviews, an online survey and bibliometric analysis.
Key findings include:
- Open and rapid sharing was a key success factor in the global pandemic response, alongside efforts to collaborate internationally and the availability of advanced research infrastructures.
- Increases in open sharing behaviours emerged as the research community focussed its efforts on Covid-19, including a greater focus on rapid peer review, removal of paywalls and preprint posting. We expect some of these behaviours to return to the pre-pandemic state , whereas others are likely to have greater longevity.
- Signatory organisations implemented commitments from the statement in a number of ways, from dedicated portals for sharing Covid-19 research to specific funding policies for grantees.
- The bibliometric component of the study sought to investigate whether practice change could be attributed to the Joint Statement. However, shifting research cultures meant that it was difficult to assess whether signatories made changes due to the Joint Statement or because of other phenomena in the research landscape.
The report outlines several recommendations for organisations who may wish to develop similar statements in the future:
- Provide strong expectations around the sharing of research data and preprints.
- Establish a monitoring and evaluation framework to assess the level of success of the initiative.
- Clearly communicate commitments for signatories in a and provide guidance on how to operationalise these commitments.
- Build knowledge sharing mechanisms to foster learning and collaboration between signatories.
- Consider the long-term policy impact of specific statement commitments.
- Assess the impact of statement commitments on low- and middle-income countries.