SARS-CoV-2 has served as a viral muse, inspiring a surge in the number of otolaryngology articles being published.
The global pandemic resulted in “dramatic changes” in otolaryngology research, according to a retrospective analysis published in The Laryngoscope.
“There was a significant increase in publications among both COVID and non-COVID articles but a decrease in the publication of clinical trials,” Yeshwant R. Chillakuru and others write. “COVID articles drew significantly more focus than non-COVID articles from researchers and the general public, despite being of lower evidence levels.”
The George Washington University authors conducted their analysis to understand the effect that the COVID-19 pandemic had on the volume, quality and impact of otolaryngology publications.
They found a 34 percent increase in otolaryngology publications during the pandemic period, which they measured from April 1, 2020, to March 31, 2021, and compared against pre-COVID articles from the year prior.
Even non-COVID-19 research was cited more often and received more attention than the prior year, they found.
During the pandemic period studied, more than three times as many articles related to COVID-19 as those on other popular topics appeared in 15 top otolaryngology journals, according to ENTtoday in its coverage of the analysis.
From a broader perspective, a review of the highest-impact medical journals found that publications during the pandemic period “were associated with lower levels of evidence and higher citation rates than that of non-COVID-19-related research,” according to the authors.
“Due to the urgency of the pandemic, the scientific community has been forced to balance rigorous, time-consuming research with the need for rapid publication and dissemination of knowledge,” they add.
Pandemic-related research also has been criticized for small sample sizes, lack of control groups, and premature access to pre-prints. A high retraction rate has also caused alarm in the scientific community, according to the authors.
The ENT research community has been similarly affected by the pandemic, with German and Italian universities showing an increase of 58 percent and 42 percent in their publications.
Because COVID-19’s symptoms involve parts of the body handled by ENTs, they have played key roles during the pandemic in a variety of ways. They include helping distinguish COVID-19 symptoms from seasonal allergies and treating COVID-19 long haulers.