The silver lining of COVID-19 restrictions: research output of academics under lockdown

Bahar Mehmani, Daniel Garcia-Costa, Francisco Grimaldo, Giangiacomo Bravo, Flaminio Squazzoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Serious concerns have been raised on the potentially negative impact of public measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic on academic research, including the closure of research facilities, and the challenges of lockdown. However, it is unclear whether COVID-related mobility restrictions have penalized academic productivity, and if this is the case, whether it has had an equal impact on all research areas and countries. Here, we examined about 9.2 million submissions to 2689 Elsevier journals in all research areas in 2018–2021 and estimated the impact of anti-COVID mobility restriction policies on submissions to journals. Results showed that anti-contagion public measures had a positive impact on academic productivity. However, submission patterns changed more in non-Western academic countries, with the exception of Italy, which had stringent lock-down measures. During the early stages of the pandemic, the abnormal peak of submission was dominated by health & medical researchers, whereas later, there was an increase in submissions to social science & economics journals. Although anti-contagion public measures have contributed to change academic work, it is difficult to estimate whether they will have any potentially long-term effect on the academic community- either positive or negative.
Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - Jan 24 2024


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