Elsevier launches global initiative to assess the impact of the pandemic on confidence in scientific research

Elsevier, a global leader in research publishing and information analytics, has today announced the launch of a global collaboration that will include new, independent research led by Economist Impact. The initiative aims to assess the drivers of confidence in research, examine how researchers have experienced the increased public attention on science during the pandemic, and the implications this has had on the academic research community. It is also looking at changes in the ways in which researchers communicate their findings.

A main focus of the initiative will be a landmark global survey conducted by Economist Impact, experts in helping to identify critical and actionable insights,of 3,000 researchers across Europe, North America, Latin America, Middle East, Africa, and Asia.

The insights will be published in a free report in Autumn 2022, and be used to create a set of actionable commitments and recommendations that will support researchers in their efforts to advance knowledge that benefits society.

The initiative sees Elsevier partner with Sense about Science, which has pioneered wider engagement on the reliability of research internationally, to bring together world-renowned experts to advise and inform the collaboration via a Global Advisory Board tasked with shaping the primary research, and a Global Expert Panel that will drive the co-creation of actionable insights and recommendations to benefit the research community.

Elsevier is also working in partnership with leading science and research organisations in six regions:

  • Chinese Association for Science of Science and Science & Technology Policy (China)
  • Körber Stiftung (Germany)
  • Japanese Association for the Advancement of Science (Japan)
  • Koninklijke Hollandsche Maatschappij der Wetenschappen – Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities(Netherlands)
  • Sense about Science (UK & global)
  • Research!America (US)

These organisations will bring unique perspectives from their respective countries, and co-host roundtables with Elsevier to explore the findings and discuss potential recommendations the collaboration will put forward.

Anne Kitson, Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Cell Press and The Lancet, Elsevier said: “Ensuring quality research can accelerate progress for society is at the heart of what Elsevier does. Science is making extraordinary advances at an accelerated pace, but amid this change lie new challenges for researchers. We’re privileged to partner with and bring together some of the world’s leading experts to consider these challenges, and work towards recommendations that we hope will help researchers to navigate this fast-evolving scientific landscape.”

Tracey Brown, Director, Sense about Science, said: “This work builds on our long-standing collaboration with Elsevier to support initiatives that improve understanding of research quality and accessible findings. If researchers have questions about the reliability of research on which to build, then these are also questions for the public and how we more broadly place confidence in findings. We are looking to this initiative to provide more of an evidence base on which initiatives can be developed and benchmarked.”

Jonathan Birdwell, Regional Head of Policy Research & Insights for EMEA, Economist Impact said: “2020 was a landmark year for scientific research. The development of Covid-19 vaccines marked an extraordinary achievement for science and global scientific cooperation. The pandemic turned previously unknown researchers into household names, with politicians, business leaders and the general public more invested than ever before in the outcomes of the scientific process. But the pandemic also appears to have accelerated a number of longer-term trends affecting the research community, including the speed and volume of research published and the role of social media. What impact has the pandemic had on how researchers produce and communicate their research? How do researchers’ experiences differ by geography, gender identity and career stage? What types of tools and resources do researchers need to produce and communicate research effectively? Our research hopes to answer these questions and identify solutions that could help researchers navigate this changing landscape with confidence.”

The collaboration comes as Elsevier’s Research Futures report reveals that the most cited ‘red flags’ for researchers to engage with and trust research was the source of data being unclear (60%), the journal being of low quality (57%) and the research not being peer reviewed (55%). The report, which surveyed over 1,000 researchers globally, also found that the most stated challenges to effective communication of research were pressure to publish to advance your career (63%), the sheer volume of articles being published (51%), and the growing emphasis on demonstrating novelty in research (47%). Researchers also reported an increase in their use of sharing sites, academic community platforms, and publisher websites.