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UNC Library Publishes Report on UNC COVID-19 Research and Collaboration

August 2, 2021
UNC Global Affairs, University Libraries
a purple-gloved hand is holding a testing sample tube in a lab.

Preparation of the Genexus Integrated Sequencer for genetic analysis of COVID-19 test samples in the Dittmer Lab on February 23, 2021. The lab is part of a UNC collaboration tracking and analyzing SARS-CoV-2 variants. (Megan May/UNC Research)

Over the past year, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has contributed extensive research discoveries associated with COVID-19. To increase the visibility and illustrate the extensive organizational collaborations that help move UNC-Chapel Hill research forward, a team from the UNC Health Sciences Library analyzed the COVID-19 research output of Carolina researchers. The team sought to answer the following questions through their analysis: 

  1. What is UNC-Chapel Hill’s research output related to COVID-19 and in which journals are UNC-Chapel Hill researchers publishing? 
  2. Which individuals within the University have been involved in published research efforts? 
  3. How are schools within UNC-Chapel Hill collaborating on COVID-19 research efforts? 
  4. With which institutions, organizations and countries are UNC-Chapel Hill researchers collaborating? 
  5. What are the various areas of focus being investigated within the research domain? 

Nandita Mani, associate university librarian for health sciences and director of the Health Sciences Library, led the effort to consolidate Carolina’s research related to COVID-19.  

“We wanted to understand the scope of work that our institution produced, as well as its geographic and disciplinary distribution. Our analysis showed a good amount of collaboration across multiple units within UNC-Chapel Hill and with external partners,” said Mani. 

Between January 2020 and April 2021, a total of 782 Carolina researchers authored 579 publications, and those researchers collaborated with authors from across the U.S., including Harvard University, University of Washington and Duke University among the most productive, as well as institutions from 81 countries. International collaborations were most often with co-authors based in Canada, the United Kingdom, China and Australia. The research also uncovered that at Carolina publications and collaboration flourished across the campus from areas within the health sciences and programs within the College of Arts & Sciences.  

Mani believes that this project has the potential to be useful for a wide range of audiences and purposes, like pursuing grants, understanding the use of patents and communicating the value of Carolina research more broadly. “This project could also be beneficial for students seeking an advisor or mentor with similar areas of interest or expertise,” Mani explained.  

Research topics in the publications analyzed included: 

  • Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on clinical care in terms of new recommendations, guidelines, practice changes, care accessibility, telemedicine and healthcare workforce; 
  • Disease management, transmission, susceptibility and associated international law and policy (e.g., travel and surveillance); 
  • Mental health, violence, stress, cancer, respiratory syndrome and Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome (IBS); 
  • Virus origin, infection, control and classification; and 
  • Drug development, repurposing and efficacy related to treating SARS-COV-2. 

As part of the next phase of this project, the team plans to update this report bi-annually with hopes to develop a real-time dashboard with a campus partner that displays the ongoing collaborations, funding received and research underway. They plan to make this dashboard accessible not just to the Carolina community but to the broader public, so that others can see the breadth of Carolina research.  

To see the full COVID-19 research report produced by the Health Sciences Library, please visit Health Sciences Library or Carolina Digital Repository.

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