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Anatomy of the epidemiological literature on the 2003 SARS outbreaks in Hong Kong and Toronto: a time-stratified review.

Xing W, Hejblum G, Leung GM, Valleron AJ - PLoS Med. (2010)

Bottom Line: We compared the SARS-case and matched-control non-SARS articles published according to the timeline of submission, acceptance, and publication.Only 22% of the studies were submitted, 8% accepted, and 7% published during the epidemic.To facilitate information dissemination, journal managers should reengineer their fast-track channels, which should be adapted to the purpose of an emerging outbreak, taking into account the requirement of high standards of quality for scientific journals and competition with other online resources.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: INSERM, U707, Paris, France. weijia.xing@inserm.fr

ABSTRACT

Background: Outbreaks of emerging infectious diseases, especially those of a global nature, require rapid epidemiological analysis and information dissemination. The final products of those activities usually comprise internal memoranda and briefs within public health authorities and original research published in peer-reviewed journals. Using the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic as an example, we conducted a comprehensive time-stratified review of the published literature to describe the different types of epidemiological outputs.

Methods and findings: We identified and analyzed all published articles on the epidemiology of the SARS outbreak in Hong Kong or Toronto. The analysis was stratified by study design, research domain, data collection, and analytical technique. We compared the SARS-case and matched-control non-SARS articles published according to the timeline of submission, acceptance, and publication. The impact factors of the publishing journals were examined according to the time of publication of SARS articles, and the numbers of citations received by SARS-case and matched-control articles submitted during and after the epidemic were compared. Descriptive, analytical, theoretical, and experimental epidemiology concerned, respectively, 54%, 30%, 11%, and 6% of the studies. Only 22% of the studies were submitted, 8% accepted, and 7% published during the epidemic. The submission-to-acceptance and acceptance-to-publication intervals of the SARS articles submitted during the epidemic period were significantly shorter than the corresponding intervals of matched-control non-SARS articles published in the same journal issues (p<0.001 and p<0.01, respectively). The differences of median submission-to-acceptance intervals and median acceptance-to-publication intervals between SARS articles and their corresponding control articles were 106.5 d (95% confidence interval [CI] 55.0-140.1) and 63.5 d (95% CI 18.0-94.1), respectively. The median numbers of citations of the SARS articles submitted during the epidemic and over the 2 y thereafter were 17 (interquartile range [IQR] 8.0-52.0) and 8 (IQR 3.2-21.8), respectively, significantly higher than the median numbers of control article citations (15, IQR 8.5-16.5, p<0.05, and 7, IQR 3.0-12.0, p<0.01, respectively).

Conclusions: A majority of the epidemiological articles on SARS were submitted after the epidemic had ended, although the corresponding studies had relevance to public health authorities during the epidemic. To minimize the lag between research and the exigency of public health practice in the future, researchers should consider adopting common, predefined protocols and ready-to-use instruments to improve timeliness, and thus, relevance, in addition to standardizing comparability across studies. To facilitate information dissemination, journal managers should reengineer their fast-track channels, which should be adapted to the purpose of an emerging outbreak, taking into account the requirement of high standards of quality for scientific journals and competition with other online resources.

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Journal Impact factors according to the time of publication of the 311 selected articles.The journal impact factors were obtained for 130 journals in which 299 SARS articles were published, the remaining 12 articles being published in seven journals that were not indexed in the Journal Citation Report database. aUp to and including 5 July 2003, the date WHO declared that the last human chain of transmission had been broken. bBetween 6 July to 31 December 2003. Box-plot representation as described in Figure 2 legend: The horizontal line inside the box represents the median; the lower and upper borders of the box represent the 25th and 75th percentiles, respectively; the whiskers correspond to extending to 1.5 times the box width (i.e., the IQR) from both ends of the box, and the circles represent values outside that interval. Whenever the minimum or maximum observed value is within the whisker interval, the alternative limit of the corresponding whisker becomes the corresponding minimum or maximum observed value.
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pmed-1000272-g006: Journal Impact factors according to the time of publication of the 311 selected articles.The journal impact factors were obtained for 130 journals in which 299 SARS articles were published, the remaining 12 articles being published in seven journals that were not indexed in the Journal Citation Report database. aUp to and including 5 July 2003, the date WHO declared that the last human chain of transmission had been broken. bBetween 6 July to 31 December 2003. Box-plot representation as described in Figure 2 legend: The horizontal line inside the box represents the median; the lower and upper borders of the box represent the 25th and 75th percentiles, respectively; the whiskers correspond to extending to 1.5 times the box width (i.e., the IQR) from both ends of the box, and the circles represent values outside that interval. Whenever the minimum or maximum observed value is within the whisker interval, the alternative limit of the corresponding whisker becomes the corresponding minimum or maximum observed value.

Mentions: The impact factors were available for 130 journals in which 299 SARS articles were published; the remaining 12 articles were published in seven journals that were not indexed in the Journal Citation Report database. The impact factors of these 130 journals ranged between 0.437 and 50.017 (median of 4.131 [IQR: 2.51–6.50]). The impact factors of the journals in which the articles on SARS were published decreased significantly (p<0.0001) with publication dates (Figure 6). The case-control study on the citations received by the articles included 123 of the 129 case articles submitted within 2 y after the epidemic (33 during the epidemic, 90 after the epidemic) and 3,659 control articles, as the number of citations was not available for six of the 129 case articles submitted. The median numbers of citations of the SARS articles submitted during the epidemic and over the 2 y thereafter were 17 (IQR: 8.0–52.0) and eight (IQR: 3.2–21.8), respectively; this difference was significant (p<0.01). Considering these two periods, the number of SARS-article citations was significantly higher than the median number of citations of their control articles (15, IQR 8.5–16.5, p<0.05, and 7, IQR 3.0–12.0, p<0.01, respectively).


Anatomy of the epidemiological literature on the 2003 SARS outbreaks in Hong Kong and Toronto: a time-stratified review.

Xing W, Hejblum G, Leung GM, Valleron AJ - PLoS Med. (2010)

Journal Impact factors according to the time of publication of the 311 selected articles.The journal impact factors were obtained for 130 journals in which 299 SARS articles were published, the remaining 12 articles being published in seven journals that were not indexed in the Journal Citation Report database. aUp to and including 5 July 2003, the date WHO declared that the last human chain of transmission had been broken. bBetween 6 July to 31 December 2003. Box-plot representation as described in Figure 2 legend: The horizontal line inside the box represents the median; the lower and upper borders of the box represent the 25th and 75th percentiles, respectively; the whiskers correspond to extending to 1.5 times the box width (i.e., the IQR) from both ends of the box, and the circles represent values outside that interval. Whenever the minimum or maximum observed value is within the whisker interval, the alternative limit of the corresponding whisker becomes the corresponding minimum or maximum observed value.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC2864302&req=5

pmed-1000272-g006: Journal Impact factors according to the time of publication of the 311 selected articles.The journal impact factors were obtained for 130 journals in which 299 SARS articles were published, the remaining 12 articles being published in seven journals that were not indexed in the Journal Citation Report database. aUp to and including 5 July 2003, the date WHO declared that the last human chain of transmission had been broken. bBetween 6 July to 31 December 2003. Box-plot representation as described in Figure 2 legend: The horizontal line inside the box represents the median; the lower and upper borders of the box represent the 25th and 75th percentiles, respectively; the whiskers correspond to extending to 1.5 times the box width (i.e., the IQR) from both ends of the box, and the circles represent values outside that interval. Whenever the minimum or maximum observed value is within the whisker interval, the alternative limit of the corresponding whisker becomes the corresponding minimum or maximum observed value.
Mentions: The impact factors were available for 130 journals in which 299 SARS articles were published; the remaining 12 articles were published in seven journals that were not indexed in the Journal Citation Report database. The impact factors of these 130 journals ranged between 0.437 and 50.017 (median of 4.131 [IQR: 2.51–6.50]). The impact factors of the journals in which the articles on SARS were published decreased significantly (p<0.0001) with publication dates (Figure 6). The case-control study on the citations received by the articles included 123 of the 129 case articles submitted within 2 y after the epidemic (33 during the epidemic, 90 after the epidemic) and 3,659 control articles, as the number of citations was not available for six of the 129 case articles submitted. The median numbers of citations of the SARS articles submitted during the epidemic and over the 2 y thereafter were 17 (IQR: 8.0–52.0) and eight (IQR: 3.2–21.8), respectively; this difference was significant (p<0.01). Considering these two periods, the number of SARS-article citations was significantly higher than the median number of citations of their control articles (15, IQR 8.5–16.5, p<0.05, and 7, IQR 3.0–12.0, p<0.01, respectively).

Bottom Line: We compared the SARS-case and matched-control non-SARS articles published according to the timeline of submission, acceptance, and publication.Only 22% of the studies were submitted, 8% accepted, and 7% published during the epidemic.To facilitate information dissemination, journal managers should reengineer their fast-track channels, which should be adapted to the purpose of an emerging outbreak, taking into account the requirement of high standards of quality for scientific journals and competition with other online resources.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: INSERM, U707, Paris, France. weijia.xing@inserm.fr

ABSTRACT

Background: Outbreaks of emerging infectious diseases, especially those of a global nature, require rapid epidemiological analysis and information dissemination. The final products of those activities usually comprise internal memoranda and briefs within public health authorities and original research published in peer-reviewed journals. Using the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic as an example, we conducted a comprehensive time-stratified review of the published literature to describe the different types of epidemiological outputs.

Methods and findings: We identified and analyzed all published articles on the epidemiology of the SARS outbreak in Hong Kong or Toronto. The analysis was stratified by study design, research domain, data collection, and analytical technique. We compared the SARS-case and matched-control non-SARS articles published according to the timeline of submission, acceptance, and publication. The impact factors of the publishing journals were examined according to the time of publication of SARS articles, and the numbers of citations received by SARS-case and matched-control articles submitted during and after the epidemic were compared. Descriptive, analytical, theoretical, and experimental epidemiology concerned, respectively, 54%, 30%, 11%, and 6% of the studies. Only 22% of the studies were submitted, 8% accepted, and 7% published during the epidemic. The submission-to-acceptance and acceptance-to-publication intervals of the SARS articles submitted during the epidemic period were significantly shorter than the corresponding intervals of matched-control non-SARS articles published in the same journal issues (p<0.001 and p<0.01, respectively). The differences of median submission-to-acceptance intervals and median acceptance-to-publication intervals between SARS articles and their corresponding control articles were 106.5 d (95% confidence interval [CI] 55.0-140.1) and 63.5 d (95% CI 18.0-94.1), respectively. The median numbers of citations of the SARS articles submitted during the epidemic and over the 2 y thereafter were 17 (interquartile range [IQR] 8.0-52.0) and 8 (IQR 3.2-21.8), respectively, significantly higher than the median numbers of control article citations (15, IQR 8.5-16.5, p<0.05, and 7, IQR 3.0-12.0, p<0.01, respectively).

Conclusions: A majority of the epidemiological articles on SARS were submitted after the epidemic had ended, although the corresponding studies had relevance to public health authorities during the epidemic. To minimize the lag between research and the exigency of public health practice in the future, researchers should consider adopting common, predefined protocols and ready-to-use instruments to improve timeliness, and thus, relevance, in addition to standardizing comparability across studies. To facilitate information dissemination, journal managers should reengineer their fast-track channels, which should be adapted to the purpose of an emerging outbreak, taking into account the requirement of high standards of quality for scientific journals and competition with other online resources.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus