BACKGROUND: We aimed to assess the adherence to five transparency practices (data availability, code availability, protocol registration and conflicts of interest (COI), and funding disclosures) from open access Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) related articles.
METHODS: We searched and exported all open access COVID-19-related articles from PubMed-indexed journals in the Europe PubMed Central database published from January 2020 to June 9, 2022. With a validated and automated tool, we detected transparent practices of three paper types: research articles, randomized controlled trials (RCTs), and reviews. Basic journal- and article-related information were retrieved from the database. We used R for the descriptive analyses.
RESULTS: The total number of articles was 258,678, of which we were able to retrieve full texts of 186,157 (72%) articles from the database Over half of the papers (55.7%, n = 103,732) were research articles, 10.9% (n = 20,229) were review articles, and less than one percent (n = 1,202) were RCTs. Approximately nine-tenths of articles (in all three paper types) had a statement to disclose COI. Funding disclosure (83.9%, confidence interval (CI): 81.7-85.8 95%) and protocol registration (53.5%, 95% CI: 50.7-56.3) were more frequent in RCTs than in reviews or research articles. Reviews shared data (2.5%, 95% CI: 2.3-2.8) and code (0.4%, 95% CI: 0.4-0.5) less frequently than RCTs or research articles. Articles published in 2022 had the highest adherence to all five transparency practices. Most of the reviews (62%) and research articles (58%) adhered to two transparency practices, whereas almost half of the RCTs (47%) adhered to three practices. There were journal- and publisher-related differences in all five practices, and articles that did not adhere to transparency practices were more likely published in lowest impact journals and were less likely cited.
CONCLUSION: While most articles were freely available and had a COI disclosure, adherence to other transparent practices was far from acceptable. A much stronger commitment to open science practices, particularly to protocol registration, data and code sharing, is needed from all stakeholders.
- Conflict of Interest
Field of Science*
- 3.2 Clinical medicine
- 3.3 Health sciences
- 1.1. Scientific article indexed in Web of Science and/or Scopus database