Finding & Reading the Literature on COVID-19Jenny Abercrombie
There are very few positives that have come from this COVID-19 Pandemic, but there is one that has made it easier for scientists, health care providers, and anyone who wants to know what is happening, from a scientific or medical perspective, to have access to the latest information on a wide range of topics related to SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19.
The downside is that those readers who are not used to reading scientific or medical literature, may not realize that the info and conclusions (also called interpretations) regarding the current pandemic are often published or posted so quickly, that they may not be peer-reviewed, which provides a critical analysis of the information offered. However, if we waited for peer review, much of the progress that has been made in identifying, testing, managing and controlling COVID-19 would not have occurred rapidly enough for changes to have been made in time to impact both quality of life and the prevention of death.
So, when seeking information, either in general or on a certain topic, it helps to have some idea of what sites tend to typically provide more scrutinized information. Articles that have been Published, or Accepted for Publication in a known medical journal are generally more reviewed content than those that are listed as Pre-Published, Comment, Letter, Research Letter, Opinion, Unreviewed or Not Open to Comment. Editorial or Editorial Comment may be published from a designee of the Journal and typically supports, disagrees or adds context to the published study. Full research articles can be quite long and contain an Abstract or Summary at the beginning, which is generally short, with a synopsis of the important takeaway information. Many Abstracts will contain abbreviated versions of the Background, Methods, Results and Conclusions, which are often complete enough to get the gist of the study or leave one wanting to read more. The body of the article will add a full Introduction or Background, Methodology, Data, Results (Tables & Figures may be included in the article or found in Supplemental Material), Discussion, Conclusions, and References (Bibliography). Some articles will also contain Limitations that outline what has not been answered by the study, limits of the methodology, or that the results are not backed up by any other independent research and need corroboration. It’s basically written like the paper accompanying a well-done science project.
Following, are some of the Medical Journals that can be accessed for free when related to SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19. On these sites, you can register for a free account to be able to read the entire article, as well as print it out. Normally, particularly for U.S. medical journals, there is a substantial cost for a subscription or a per article or publication cost. Most costs have been waived when involving COVID or the Pandemic (much as many news articles have been). You can even sign up for their Online Updates so they’ll send you a list of newly published articles with links.