Cookies

Like most websites The Ophthalmologist uses cookies. In order to deliver a personalized, responsive service and to improve the site, we remember and store information about how you use it. Learn more.
Business & Profession COVID-19, Basic & Translational Research, Health Economics and Policy

Study Break

The global impact of pandemic mitigation measures on research has been immense – and vision science research is no exception. Social distancing and lockdowns have meant that most scientific research and clinical trials have been inevitably delayed, with researchers unable to either take their work home or carry it out in their usual settings. In the UK, 70 percent of clinical trials and studies have been paused, delayed, or stopped (1), with some institutions halting all but COVID-19-related and life-saving research (2).

Some practising clinician-researchers were redeployed to take care of patients affected by COVID-19. Many others have devoted their attention to COVID-19’s impact on eye care, with record numbers of papers produced and published on the topic – understandably, but to the detriment of other crucial vision-related research. In some settings, lab equipment has been repurposed to ramp up the number of available diagnostic tests for COVID-19. Importantly, with childcare settings and schools closed, researchers with caring responsibilities cannot always balance both duties – a challenge that disproportionately impacts women, resulting in fewer grant applications and paper submissions from female researchers (3).

But these obstacles aren’t new. COVID-19 is merely exacerbating challenges the scientific world has faced for a long time. Could the pandemic be our chance to improve the situation – not just temporarily, but as a permanent fix for some of scientific publishing’s most pressing issues?

An open letter listing ways in which funding bodies can alleviate the impact of caring responsibilities on researchers’ productivity has been signed by hundreds of leading scientists worldwide.

Researchers and journal publishers are now pulling together to lessen the impact of the pandemic on their output. Papers are being published rapidly, with over 50 leading publishers opting to make all COVID-19-related content accessible to all (4). Meanwhile, authors are publishing their work on preprint servers or through open-access platforms ahead of peer review (5). Collaboration on local and international levels is rising as researchers explore new ways of remote networking and disseminating information. An open letter listing ways in which funding bodies can alleviate the impact of caring responsibilities on researchers’ productivity has been signed by hundreds of leading scientists worldwide (6). Is there an opportunity in this crisis to change scientific research for the better – forever?

Subscribe to The Ophthalmologist Newsletters

When you click “Subscribe” we will email you a link, which you must click to verify the email address above and activate your subscription. If you do not receive this email, please contact us at [email protected].

  1. AMRC, “COVID-19: The risk to AMRC charities” (2020). Available at: https://bit.ly/30pWgNz.
  2. NIHR UCLH BRC, “Research during COVID-19 pandemic” (2020). Available at: https://bit.ly/2Wyx7iI.
  3. Laboratory Equipment, “Data suggest female researchers fall behind during COVID-19” (2020). Available at: https://bit.ly/30qEhGJ.
  4. R Kiley, “Open access: how COVID-19 will change the way research findings are shared,” Wellcome (2020). Available at: https://bit.ly/2ClCPxw.
  5. Wellcome, “Sharing research data and findings relevant to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak” (2020). Available at: https://bit.ly/2E0r8g7.
  6. Open Letter, “Ensuring that researchers with caring responsibilities don’t get left behind” (2020). Available at: https://bit.ly/32xJKy2.

About the Author

Aleksandra Jones

Editor of The Ophthalmologist

Having edited several technical publications over the last decade, I crossed paths with quite a few of Texere's current team members, and I only ever heard them sing the company's praises. When an opportunity arose to join Texere, I jumped at the chance! With a background in literature, I love the company's ethos of producing genuinely engaging content, and the fact that it is so well received by our readers makes it even more rewarding.

Product Profiles

Access our product directory to see the latest products and services from our industry partners

Here

Register to The Ophthalmologist

Register to access our FREE online portfolio, request the magazine in print and manage your preferences.

You will benefit from:

  • Unlimited access to ALL articles
  • News, interviews & opinions from leading industry experts
  • Receive print (and PDF) copies of The Ophthalmologist magazine

Register