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Gaceta Sanitaria

versión impresa ISSN 0213-9111


CANDAL-PEDREIRA, Cristina; RUANO-RAVINA, Alberto  y  PEREZ-RIOS, Mónica. Comparison of COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 papers. Gac Sanit [online]. 2022, vol.36, n.6, pp.506-511.  Epub 13-Mar-2023. ISSN 0213-9111.


The need to generate evidence related to COVID-19, the acceleration of publication and peer-review process and the competition between journals may have influenced the quality of COVID-19 papers. Our objective was to compare the characteristics of COVID-19 papers against those of non-COVID-19 papers and identify the variables in which they differ.


We conducted a journal-matched case-control study. Cases were COVID-19 papers and controls were non-COVID-19 papers published between March 2020 and January 2021. Journals belonging to five different Journal Citations Reports categories were selected. Within each selected journal, a COVID-19 paper (where there was one) and another non-COVID-19 paper were selected. Conditional logistic regression models were fitted.


We included 81 COVID-19 and 143 non-COVID-19 papers. Descriptive observational studies and analytical observational studies had, respectively, a 55-fold (odds ratio [OR]: 55.12; 95% confidence interval [95%CI]: 7.41-409.84) and 19-fold (OR: 19.28; 95%CI: 3.09-120.31) higher likelihood of being COVID-19 papers, respectively, and also a higher probability of having a smaller sample size (OR: 7.15; 95%CI: 2.33-21.94). COVID-19 papers had a higher probability of being cited since their publication (OR: 4.97; 95%CI: 1.63-15.10).


The characteristics of COVID-19 papers differed from those of non-COVID-19 papers published in the first months of the pandemic. In order to ensure the publication of good scientific evidence the quality of COVID-19-papers should be preserved.

Palabras clave : SARS-CoV-2; Case-control studies; Research ethics.

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