Opinion: Making COVID-19 research open to all
20 August 2020
UCL’s COVID-19 Research platform reached a landmark moment this August as it recorded its 500th entry. Dr Paul Ayris, Pro-Vice-Provost (UCL Library Services), explains why making research available and open to the world will benefit us all.
At UCL, we have been applying the depth and breadth of our cross-disciplinary research and expertise to help the global effort in combatting COVID-19 and to make the world more resilient and equitable in the future.
One of the specific ways we have supported interventions against COVID-19 has been through making our research and data freely available around the world. UCL has a long-term commitment to innovative Open Science principles as we recognise the wider benefits for advancing knowledge and discoveries.
Determined to apply the Open Science ethos in the challenge to understand COVID-19, we were one of the first universities anywhere in the world to develop an online platform bringing together all our records for research on the pandemic into one place.
The UCL COVID-19 Research platform is managed on behalf of the UCL community by UCL Press, the UK’s first fully Open Access University Press. The platform brings together records for published articles, pre-prints, working papers and reports from a global database maintained by ScienceOpen, which expands by more than one million records every month.
The platform uses metadata (catalogue descriptions) to pull in research from a range of outlets from traditional commercial journals to pre-print servers. Where the research is Open Access, the platform makes the full-text of the publication available.
This month (August), UCL’s COVID-19 Research platform reached a landmark moment with 500 pieces of research recorded, and over 13,000 views to the platform.
The COVID-19 Research platform is a hugely important initiative in the context of the current pandemic. The sharing of research insights and information is crucial to enabling a global response to the current crisis.
We know this having learned lessons in previous pandemics. For example, later analysis of the Ebola crisis, that affected thousands of people particularly in Western Africa, showed that the sharing of research, data and information was poor. There was no central record of research findings, and many collections of research data were inaccessible.
These barriers to rapid information sharing affected the ways in which the virus was managed, controlled and treated.
UCL is determined that the same failures do not happen during the COVID-19 pandemic. We outlined our commitment in a statement on the importance of Open Science.
UCL’s COVID-19 Research platform is one of our gifts to the world, sharing our knowledge and wisdom across the globe for the benefit of all.
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