Topic Evolution, Disruption and Resilience in Early COVID-19 Research

28 Pages Posted: 16 Aug 2020

See all articles by Yi Zhang

Yi Zhang

University of Technology Sydney

Xiaojing Cai

Zhejiang University

Caroline V. Fry

University of Hawaii at Manoa - UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII - Shidler College of Business; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Mengjia Wu

University of Technology Sydney (UTS)

Caroline S. Wagner

Ohio State University (OSU)

Date Written: August 16, 2020

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic presented a challenge to the global research community as they rushed to find solutions to the devastating crisis. Drawing expectations from resilience theory, this paper explores how the trajectory of coronavirus research was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Using terms featured in articles in early COVID-19 research, and pathways of knowledge characterized through term extraction, evolutionary pathways and statistical analysis, the results reveal that the pandemic disrupted existing lines of coronavirus research to a large degree. While broad communities of coronavirus research are similar pre- and during COVID-19, topics themselves change significantly and there is less cohesion amongst early COVID-19 research compared to that within research before the pandemic. We find that some lines of research revert to research pursued almost a decade earlier, whilst others pursue brand new trajectories, and that Chinese researchers in particular appear to be driving the more novel research. These findings suggest that the global research community maintained a similar broad research focus from before the pandemic, but shifted the detail of the research in the COVID-19 period, exploring diverse pathways, and that specific actors are more flexible than others in doing so. The findings raise further questions about whether the shifts are advantageous for global scientific progress, and whether the research community will return to the original equilibrium or reorganize into a different knowledge configuration.

Keywords: COVID-19; topic analysis; evolutionary pathways; science policy

JEL Classification: P00

Suggested Citation

Zhang, Yi and Cai, Xiaojing and Fry, Caroline V. and Wu, Mengjia and Wagner, Caroline S., Topic Evolution, Disruption and Resilience in Early COVID-19 Research (August 16, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3675020 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3675020

Yi Zhang

University of Technology Sydney ( email )

15 Broadway, Ultimo
PO Box 123
Sydney, NSW 2007
Australia
2007 (Fax)

Xiaojing Cai

Zhejiang University ( email )

Yuhangtang 866
Hangzhou, OH Zhejiang 310058
China

Caroline V. Fry

University of Hawaii at Manoa - UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII - Shidler College of Business ( email )

2404 Maile Way
Honolulu, HI 96822
United States

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) ( email )

77 Massachusetts Avenue
50 Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
United States

Mengjia Wu

University of Technology Sydney (UTS) ( email )

15 Broadway, Ultimo
PO Box 123
Sydney, NSW 2007
Australia

Caroline S. Wagner (Contact Author)

Ohio State University (OSU) ( email )

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1810 College Road N
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United States
6142927791 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://glenn.osu.edu

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