Ten principles for generating accessible and useable COVID-19 environmental science and a fit-for-purpose evidence base.

Published online
10 May 2021
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
Ecological Solutions and Evidence

Kadykalo, A. N. & Haddaway, N. R. & Rytwinski, T. & Cooke, S. J.
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The 'anthropause', a period of unusually reduced human activity and mobility due to COVID-19 restrictions, has serendipitously opened up unique opportunities for research on how human activities impact the environment. In the field of health, COVID-19 research has led to concerns about the quality of research papers and the underlying research and publication processes due to accelerated peer review and publication schedules, increases in pre-prints and retractions. In the field of environmental science, framing the pandemic and associated global lockdowns as an unplanned global human confinement experiment with urgency should raise the same concerns about the rigorousness and integrity of the scientific process. Furthermore, the recognition of an 'infodemic', an unprecedented explosion of research, risks research waste and duplication of effort, although how information is used is as important as the quality of evidence. This highlights the need for an evidence base that is easy to find and use - that is discoverable, curated, synthesizable, synthesized. We put forward a list of 10 key principles to support the establishment of a reproducible, replicable, robust, rigorous, timely and synthesizable COVID-19 environmental evidence base that avoids research waste and is resilient to the pressures to publish urgently. These principles focus on engaging relevant actors (e.g. local communities, rightsholders) in research design and production, statistical power, collaborations, evidence synthesis, research registries and protocols, open science and transparency, data hygiene (cleanliness) and integrity, peer review transparency, standardized keywords and controlled vocabularies.

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