Sleeping beauties and temporal evolution and of the coronavirus literature

Milad Haghani, Pegah Varamini

Temporal evolution of the coronavirus literature over the last thirty years (N=43,769) is analyzed along with its subdomain of SARS-CoV-2 articles (N=27,460) and the subdomain of reviews and meta-analytic studies (N=1,027). (i) The analyses on the subset of SARS-CoV-2 literature identified studies published prior to 2020 that have now proven highly instrumental in the development of various clusters of publications linked to SARS-CoV-2. In particular, the so-called sleeping beauties of the coronavirus literature with an awakening in 2020 were identified, i.e., previously published studies of this literature that had remained relatively unnoticed for several years but gained sudden traction in 2020 in the wake of the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak. (ii) The subset of 2020 SARS-CoV-2 articles is bibliographically distant from the rest of this literature published prior to 2020. Individual articles of the SARS-CoV-2 segment with a bridging role between the two bodies of articles (i.e., before and after 2020) are identifiable. (iii) Furthermore, the degree of bibliographic coupling within the 2020 SARS-CoV-2 cluster is much poorer compared to the cluster of articles published prior to 2020. This could, in part, be explained by the higher diversity of topics that are studied in relation to SARS-CoV-2 compared to the literature of coronaviruses published prior to the SARS-CoV-2 disease. This work demonstrates how scholarly efforts undertaken during peace time or prior to a disease outbreak could suddenly play a critical role in prevention and mitigation of health disasters caused by new diseases.

Knowledge Graph

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