A scientific research journal published at Illinois State University is using a rapid review process to give researchers faster access to articles related to coronovirus (COVID-19).
Dr. Olcay Akman, the editor–in–chief of Letters in Biomathematics, said the urgency for sharing knowledge in the time of the pandemic demands a faster process. “It can take up to a year to publish a research manuscript,” said Akman, who studies the spread of infectious diseases, including the coronavirus. “Research groups all over the United States are working on models that could help remove the lockdown. It cannot wait until next year to be shared.”
The manuscripts are first screened by epidemiologists and biomathematicians from across the world who serve as associate editors for the publication. If accepted, the paper is posted on the Letters in Biomathematics website under the COVID-19 Archives. Posting stories to the online archive means turnaround can be four to five business days, as opposed to the months it would take to have an article peer reviewed.
Biomathematics is the combined and intersecting study of biology, mathematics, and computer science. The emerging field is used to track diseases and explore new ways to understand epidemics. The COVID-19 Archives webpage currently includes articles such as exploring a scientific way to open from the lockdown, understanding the dynamics of the transmission of COIVID-19, the use of open-source software for reading CT scans, and an article by Akman of projected fatalities from the disease.
Akman has been modeling the coronavirus in the United States since January with startling accuracy. “In a case like this, it is almost bitter to see your results are correct,” he said, noting his estimates are on track for a potential loss of life of nearly 170,000 people in the U.S. “This is all the more reason the COVID-19 papers have time importance, and they should be available to the general scientific community right away.”
All articles note the findings are preliminary, and not fully reviewed. As soon as the manuscripts are posted, editors begin the second round of what might be called the “standard” peer review for publication, heading for the journal’s January 2021 printed issue that will be dedicated to studies on the coronavirus. Those that are rejected will be removed from the archives.
Akman is the head of the Intercollegiate Biomathematics Alliance, which provides a national center for collaborative studies on biomathematics. The alliance is a natural starting point to create the COVID-19 Archives repository.
Find out more about Letters in Biomathematics.