Take Off: preprints on COVID-19

I’m posting this the morning after generating a graph, and it’s already out-of-date. During the worldwide COVID-19 outbreak, preprint servers such as bioRxiv and medRxiv have again shown that they are the most effective way of communicating science rapidly.

A collection of all papers on COVID-19 deposited on these two servers is available here, and it is growing daily.

The good people at CSHL have made the data available on this page in json format. A short wrangle in R using RJSONIO, and I had a collection of dates when each preprint in the list was deposited. From these dates, a histogram and cumulative histogram could be generated and plotted.

In just two months there have been almost 600 papers deposited, 594 as I write this (432 on medRxiv and 163 on bioRxiv). This is not counting papers on ArXiv and other servers. Some of these preprints have been rapidly peer reviewed and published in Journals, but this plot shows the intensity of work on COVID-19 and that preprints are the primary method for disseminating potentially live-saving information. Read a synopsis on our partner site rekaryo.com.

UPDATE: 2020-04-13

It was clear when I wrote this post that preprints on COVID-19 were only going in one direction… the latest plot is shown below. The current tally is 1559 preprints (1206 medRxiv, 353 bioRxiv)!

The preLights team have a resource dedicated to curating preprints related to COVID-19 – http://covidpreprints.com

The post title comes from “Take Off” by Pink Floyd. This track was destined for the Zabriskie Point soundtrack. I have a couple of versions, so this one is from the Devi/ation disc.

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