Emily Gurley, PhD and M. Kate Grabowski, PhD; Johns Hopkins University
Website or social media links
Current stage of development
1-2 years with longer term potential
Background information on current practices
The 2019 Novel Coronavirus Research Compendium (NCRC) is a centralized, publicly available resource that rapidly curates and reviews the emerging scientific evidence about SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19. Our goal is to provide accurate, relevant information for global public health action by clinicians, public health practitioners, and policy makers.
Overview of the challenge to overcome
As the pandemic unfolds, there has been a rapid proliferation of literature on SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19, much of it first released as a preprint. Reliable and rapidly curated evidence is needed to inform the public, programs, policy, and research.
The ideal outcome or output of the project
Expert curation of COVID-19 research with pre- and post-publication reviews linked directly to pre-print servers as applicable.
Description of the intervention
Working alongside informationists at the Johns Hopkins Welch Library, we developed and maintain a list of key search terms for our eight focus areas, including ecology and spillover, diagnostics, and clinical and prognostic risk factors, epidemiology, non-pharmaceutical interventions, pharmaceutical interventions, disease modeling, and vaccines. Literature searches were automated for PubMed and preprint servers (MedXriv, BioXriv, and SSRN), and search results are downloaded regularly into a custom NCRC web application and divided among the eight teams for screening. Experts working in each of the eight topical teams then review each paper to decide whether they believe it will bring new and key information to inform clinicians, public health practitioners, and policy makers. In addition to selecting key articles from our search results, we keep our eyes on the press and social media to see what papers are trending to evaluate if they should be included in the compendium. We prioritize original, high-quality research for public health action and papers receiving significant press for review, regardless of quality.
For each paper selected into the compendium, our teams summarize the setting, population, results, strengths, limitations of the paper, and value added based on what is already known about SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19. At the end, we write our short take of the paper’s key finding(s), significance, and reliability relevant for action or practice. These expert summaries are then reviewed by a scientific editor before being posted to our website, and if they appear on a preprint server, are also linked to those servers directly. We have a weekly newsletter that provides subscribers with updates on the latest NCRC reviews.
Our endeavors have been covered by Science, Wired, STAT News, CNN, Buzzfeed, and the JHSPH Magazine.
Plan for monitoring project outcome
We monitor unique users and page views on our site. We also monitor our newsletter subscriptions and social media followers.
What’s needed for success
Additional technology development
We need a more robust front-end web application and back-end database for screening and reviewing the literature. The current web application (using R Shiny) and database (using Google Sheets) were not developed for large numbers of users or for the rapidly expanding body of COVID-19 literature.
Feedback, beta testing, collaboration, endorsement
One of our biggest challenges has been breaking through the COVID-19 noise and reaching our target audience. We are seeking collaborations and endorsements that will drive more users to our site.
We need continued funding to support student and faculty reviewers as well as our NCRC coordinators. Our monthly operating budget is approximately 10k per month.