Skip to content

The pandemic has necessitated significant shifts within the scholarly publishing environment. COVID-19 research has reached readers at record speeds, and for many major publishers, been made available at no cost to readers. Preprints are now mainstream and are indexed in PubMed, as well as on preprint servers such as medRxiv and bioRxiv. But are these changes here to stay? And what other changes has COVID-19 brought about within the scholarly publishing world? 

Perhaps the most obvious change in publishing during the past 6 months is the “extraordinary proliferation of research and commentary on the pandemic” (Bell & Green, 2020, p. 379). The scholarly publishing community has placed an increased value on open science. A majority of large publishers have made their COVID-19 content freely accessible. In a recent post on The Scholarly Kitchen, “both the positive (rapid reporting and sharing of information) and the negatives (the glut of bad science being issued as preprints and promoted via mainstream media without proper curation) are now evident, with the good generally outweighing the bad” (Crotty, 2020). 

The need for increased speed of publication has many critics afraid that pushing papers through the peer review process quickly will result in increased retractions. In fact, as of October 15, 2020, RetractionWatch lists 36 retracted COVID-19 papers, including articles from prestigious journals such as  The Lancet, New England Journal of Medicine. Alongside this “crisis in peer review” is a “less widely publicised crisis in peer reviewers, with willing and able peer reviewers increasingly difficult to find” (Bell & Green, 2020, p. 380). While the number of submissions is ever increasing, “academics are baulking at being asked to review them” (Bell & Green, 2020, 380). Additionally, article submissions from women authors have decreased presumably due to the fact that “the effects of lockdown have disproportionately disadvantaged women across the disciplines” (Smart, 2020, p. 196). This has also likely contributed to the shortage of peer reviewers. 

And let’s not forget the financial impact of COVID-19. Researchers are competing for limited grant funding. Many large publishers are freezing subscription prices. Library collection budgets are being cut, forcing libraries to cancel subscriptions to valued resources, which will further impact publishers' and researchers. Research societies that rely on annual meetings for large portions of their income don’t expect to hold large meetings until late in 2021 at the earliest, and expect to see a decline in membership as discretionary income of individual members becomes scarce (Crotty, 2020).  

It’s not all doom and gloom though. On the bright side, “recognition of the need to fund scientific research has never been stronger (Crotty, 2020). Governments and funding agencies now see the value of open science, which “creates the potential for continuing progress through the creation of incentives and eventually, after normality resumes, the dedication of increased funding to both support existing OA models and to drive the creation of new models” (Crotty , 2020). While the landscape of scholarly publishing is constantly evolving, COVID-19 has undoubtedly already had a dramatic influence on this evolution. 


Bell, K., & Green, J. (2020). Premature evaluation? Some cautionary thoughts on global pandemics and scholarly publishing. Critical Public Health, 30:4, 379-383, DOI: 10.1080/09581596.2020.1769406

Crotty, D. (2020, August 4). Two steps forward, one step back: The pandemic’s impact on Open Access progress. The Scholarly Kitchen.

RetractionWatch, (2020). Retracted coronavirus (COVID-19) papers. RetractionWatch [Weblog, accessed October 15, 2020],

Smart P. (2020). Publishing during pandemic: Innovation, collaboration, and change. Learned publishing: journal of the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers, 33(3), 194–197.

Hand squeezing stress ball while donating blood.
Image by Michelle Gordon from Pixabay

Have you wondered how you could help others during the COVID-19 pandemic? Donating blood is an easy and free way that you can make a positive contribution during these times. 

Donating blood with the American Red Cross is easy, and can even help you embrace the spirit of fall and Halloween! Donate during the month of October to earn the Vampire Badge in the Blood Donor App. If earning the Vampire Badge isn’t enough motivation for you, you can also enter to win a $1,000 Amazon gift card during the month of October. You can use the Blood Donor App to schedule an appointment to donate, complete your pre-donation questionnaire (RapidPass), and track your blood’s journey from donation all the way to completion. You can also join the GW team within the Blood Donor App and have your donation counted towards GW’s total lives impacted.

Ever wonder if you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 but were asymptomatic? The Red Cross is currently testing all donations for COVID-19 antibodies. Donating is a great way to find out if you have COVID-19 antibodies. To be clear - you will not be tested for COVID-19. Antibody tests assess whether or not you’ve had an immune response to COVID-19; it does not determine if the virus is currently present. People with antibody-positive donations can help coronavirus patients by donating convalescent plasma. Eligible convalescent plasma donors must be fully recovered from COVID-19.

Whole blood donations are used for blood transfusions, but can be used to help multiple people by separating red cells, plasma and platelets. The requirements for donating whole blood are simple: Donors must be healthy and feeling well, be at least 17 years old, and weigh 110 pounds or more. If you’ve donated blood recently, you should wait 56 days between donations. Donor centers are taking proper safety precautions during the pandemic. All donors and staff are required to wear masks, beds are socially distanced, and enhanced cleaning processes are being followed.

Donating blood is a great way to contribute in a small way during the pandemic. If the Vampire Badge and the chance to win a $1,000 Amazon gift card aren’t enough to convince you to donate, perhaps the post-donation cookies will entice you! Happy donating!

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, research papers have been fast-tracked to publication. The pandemic has necessitated significant shifts in the scholarly publishing model that have resulted in research being made available at record speeds and, for most major publishers, available at no cost. Preprints have become mainstream. While many see these as positive changes, there is a darker side to this shift in scholarly publishing.

Predatory journals, known for their lack of peer review and willingness to publish any article written by someone able to pay the required Article Processing Charges (APCs), have been largely forgotten during the COVID-19 pandemic. Predatory journals are known for their promises of “rapid” publication. But in the time of COVID-19, quick publication has become the norm even among legitimate and highly respected journals. This has led to questions about the quality of peer review and has led to frequent retractions of COVID-19 related articles. 

In a recent article published in The Journal of Academic Librarianship, Teixeria da Silva (2020) states that “the risks to the scholarly community, academic publishing and ultimately public health are at stake when exploitative and predatory publishing are left unchallenged.” Academics and the media alike are reading, discussing and trusting content that has not undergone a rigorous peer review process. “If one considers that this explosion in literature is directly affecting human lives and public health, astute academics need to be able to sift through pro-preprint propaganda, as well as poorly conducted peer review and editorial processing in peer reviewed journals, in order to be able to distinguish valid from invalid research” (Teixeria da Silva, 2020). 

A recent study of predatory publishing in the COVID-19 era analyzed the prevalence of COVID-19-related articles published in known predatory journals. Between January and May 2020, the study found 350 articles were published in 109 predatory journals, and five of these journals were indexed in PubMed/MEDLINE (Vervoort & Shrime, 2020). The study estimated that the amount of money spent to cover APCs for these articles totaled $33,807.41 (Vervoort & Shrime, 2020). 

Vervoort and Shrime (2020) highlighted three major concerns about predatory journals in light of the pandemic:

  1. "Loss of potential valuable biomedical and epidemiological information."
  2. "Spread of misinformation with potentially harmful or negligent consequences."
  3. "Money earned off of unknowing authors in times where many scientists and clinicians have taken pay cuts."

Retraction Watch highlighted a sting article entitled “SARS-CoV-2 was Unexpectedly Deadlier than Push-scooters: Could Hydroxychloroquine be the Unique Solution?” by authors claiming to be from “The Institute for Quick and Dirty Science” in Switzerland. The goal of this sting article was “to highlight a concerning paper in the Asian Journal of Medicine and Health, which they and others suspect of being a predatory publication” (Marcus, 2020). The “concerning paper” included among its authors several hydroxychloroquine partisans, and contains “errors of analysis, raises regulatory questions and sometimes misunderstand the appropriate terms” (Marcus, 2020). 

The authors of the paper in question had claimed that their article was “proof of the efficacy of HCQ,” and that the journal in which it was published was “as serious as the Lancet” (Marcus, 2020). In an effort to prove that this same journal would indeed publish anything as long as the APC has been paid, the sting article authors set out to write and publish a bogus article in this journal. The article was indeed published! Although it has since been retracted due to “serious scientific fraud,” it would not have been published at all had any real peer review taken place prior to publication.

While there is a real need for legitimate research to be published quickly in order to increase our knowledge about COVID-19, authors and readers alike should remember that predatory journals have not taken time off during the pandemic. “The academic community has the duty to respond to these deeply perverse practices, and thereby protect fellow researchers and combat misinformation” (Vervoort & Shrime, 2020). 



Marcus, A. (2020). Hydroxychloroquine, push-scooters, and COVID-19: A journal gets stung and swiftly reacts. Retraction Watch,

Teixeira da Silva. (2020). An alert to COVID-19 literature in predatory publishing venues. The Journal of Academic Librarianship. (46)5.

Vervoort, D., Ma, X., & Shrime, M. (2020). Money down the drain: predatory publishing in the COVID-19 era. Canadian Journal of Public Health.

Hand holding pen ready to sign a contract.
Photo by Cytonn Photography on Unsplash

Are you in the process of publishing a scholarly article? Do you plan on using your article in a class you are teaching? Want to share your article with colleagues? Maybe you’d like to modify the work in the future or archive your work in Himmelfarb’s institutional repository, the Health Sciences Research Commons. Doing any of these things may be in direct violation of the agreement you sign with the publisher prior to your work being published. 

An important consideration to keep in mind when choosing a journal is author rights. Many traditional publishers include language in author agreements that transfers most, if not all, of an author's right to their work to the publisher. Most publishers don’t even try to hide the fact that authors are signing away the rights to their works - publishers often call these agreements “Copyright Transfer Agreements.” These agreements limit the authors ability to archive, share, use, modify or display their work once it has been published. Before you sign an agreement with a publisher, consider including an addendum to ensure that you retain certain rights to reuse and share your work. 

One option is to submit a SPARC Author Addendum that modifies the publisher’s agreement and allows you to maintain the right to create derivative works, authorize others to share and reuse your work (for non-commercial purposes), and to distribute your work in class or to colleagues for educational purposes. You could also use the available GW custom author addendum. For more information about negotiating author rights, take a look at the Author Rights page of our Scholarly Publishing Guide or contact Himmelfarb’s Metadata and Scholarly Publishing Librarian, Sara Hoover (



Himmelfarb Library: We're Here For You!

As we begin the Fall 2020 semester, we know that this semester is going to be different than other semesters. With most classes moving online, and a very few operating via a hybrid model, we all have to adapt to a new way of learning, teaching, studying, and conducting research. While we’re all doing things a little bit differently these days, Himmelfarb Library wants you to know that we are still here for you

Photo by Robert Ruggiero on Unsplash

Are you looking to publish your research, but need to find a journal in which to publish? Want to find a journal that will ensure your article will be widely read and cited? Choosing where to submit your manuscript can be a daunting task for any researcher. But don’t despair - Himmelfarb Library has resources that can help.

A great place to start is our Journal Selection webinar, part of Himmelfarb’s Get Yourself Published, Promote Your Research webinar series. In this webinar, Sara Hoover, Metadata and Scholarly Communications Librarian, provides an overview of tools and resources that can help you select an appropriate journal for your research. Learn about the difference between aggregation based journal selection tools and publisher based journal selection tools and utilize comparison rubrics to evaluate multiple publications. Additionally, you’ll have a chance to locate journals relevant to your field of study. 

Want to explore some tools to help you choose a journal? Himmelfarb’s Scholarly Publishing Guide has links to numerous tools that can help you select the right journal for your research. Two useful tools to consider are the Cofactor Journal Selector and the Journal/Article Name Estimator (JANE). The Cofactor Journal Selector can help you identify a journal in which to publish based on subject, peer review, open access, speed of review and other considerations. JANE takes a different approach by allowing you to enter your article title and/or abstract and providing a list of potential journals that may be appropriate for your submission.

Another strategy is to search the Health Sciences Research Commons (HSRC), Himmelfarb’s institutional repository. You can search the HSRC by discipline, collection, or school to see where your colleagues have published their research. You could also search for articles on your topic in PubMed and identify potential journals to consider for your research.

An important consideration to keep in mind when choosing a journal is whether or not the journal is predatory in nature. Predatory journals make false peer-review claims while collecting exorbitant fees from authors who publish in their journals. Because these journals do not actually provide peer-review services, your article could be published next to bogus research and will not be widely read or cited. If you’re going to publish, make sure you are choosing a legitimate, scholarly journal for your work! To learn more about predatory publishing, including how to evaluate a journal to determine whether or not it is predatory, check out our Predatory Publishing Guide.

While choosing a journal that’s right for your research isn’t an easy task, librarians can be a great resource for authors in selecting the right journal. If you are getting ready to publish, don’t fret - Himmelfarb has resources that can help!

Have you registered for your ORCID yet? Not sure what ORCID is? Open Researcher and Contributor IDs, or ORCIDs, are a unique digital identifier that distinguishes you from other researchers. ORCIDs are useful to make sure that all of your research is attributed to you personally and that your work can be differentiated from that of other researchers with similar names. Due to current and upcoming mandates from federal funding bodies as well as many journal publishers, the use of ORCIDs is becoming more widespread all the time.

Do you want to learn more about ORCIDs? Himmelfarb Library has a webinar that will help you do just that! In the ORCIDs: Maintaining Your Online Identity webinar, Tom Harrod, Research Support Librarian, explores what an ORCID is and how you can create and curate your own profile. You’ll also learn tips and tricks for easily keeping your ORCID up to date as your research advances.

For more information about ORCIDS, check out the ORCID@GW page of our Scholarly Publishing guide. Be sure to follow us on Twitter for upcoming tips on how to care for your ORCID starting in early August!



Copyright symbol
TheDigitalArtist / Pixabay

Do you want to utilize a diagram from a published article in your own publication, but are unsure whether you should do so? Do you have questions about fair use? Himmelfarb Library has developed a short webinar that explores many of the most common questions authors have while writing an article for publication. 



In the Copyright for Authors webinar, Anne Linton, Himmelfarb Library Director, and Sara Hoover, Metadata and Scholarly Publishing Librarian discuss tools that can help you determine whether something can be utilized under the fair use doctrine and how to approach items with various creative commons licenses. How to clear rights and respond to publisher questions related to rights are also covered.

Stacks of files and paperwork.
Photo by Wesley Tingey on Unsplash

Do you struggle with keeping your citations organized for papers or articles that you are writing? One of the most challenging aspects of the publication process can be documenting and organizing references and citations. Himmelfarb Library has a short webinar that can help you choose the right citation management tool.

In this Citation Organization for Beginners webinar, Reference and Instruction Librarian Paul Levett, explores how bibliographic management tools can simplify the process of documenting and organizing references and citations. These tools also ensure that you adhere to formatting styles such as APA or AMA. Paul examines bibliographic management tools such as RefWorks, EndNote and more to show you how to use these resources quickly and effectively. This webinar compares the features of bibliographic management tools, and provides considerations to think about when deciding which tool is best suited to your needs.

Check out all eight sessions of Himmelfarb’s Get Yourself Published, Promote Your Research series to learn more about a range of scholarly communication topics!

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Himmelfarb Library would like to welcome all of our new users! Whether you are a new resident, fellow, physician assistant or public health student, we welcome you to the GW community! Himmelfarb is ready to serve you and help make your experience here a positive one. You may be curious about what Himmelfarb has to offer and how you can make the most of our resources and services. Here are the top five things we’d like you to know about Himmelfarb:

1) Getting Research Help is Easy!

Our reference librarians are available to answer your questions and provide research support when and where you need help. Get your research and library-related questions answered right from your computer by using the Ask a Librarian service! Reference librarians are available to answer your texts and instant message questions Monday-Thursday from 8:30am-8:00pm, and Friday from 8:30am-5:00pm. 

2) Himmelfarb Resources are Available Anytime, Anywhere.

Himmelfarb’s 100 databases, 4,100 journals, and 4,500 e-books are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our e-book collection includes most major textbooks from most fields. Install the LibKey Nomad Google Chrome browser extension for seamless and speedy access to full-text articles available through Himmelfarb. After installing the extension, choose ‘George Washington University - Himmelfarb Library’ as your institution, and you’ll be all set. For more information about accessing Himmelfarb’s online resources including tips for navigating articles, check out our E-Resources FAQs page.

To access our electronic resources from off-campus, we recommend connecting to the GW VPN. The Himmelfarb off-campus access page provides additional information about installing the VPN and accessing electronic resources with your GW NetID. Many of our resources are also available as mobile apps for download on your mobile devices. 

3) 3D Printing is Available!

Himmelfarb has a 3D printer available for use by faculty, staff and students in SMHS, SON, GWSPH, the GW Hospital and the MFA. 3D printing will be available once the library opens its doors again. For more information about 3D printing at Himmelfarb, check out our 3D Printing Guide.

4) If We Don’t Have It, We’ll Do Our Best To Get It For You.

While we attempt to make our collection as robust as possible, we don’t have access to everything. In the event that we don’t have access to a resource that you need, you can place a request through our Interlibrary Loan/Documents2Go service. Through this service, we are able to work with a nationwide network of libraries to obtain a copy of a needed resource on your behalf. Articles are normally delivered within 24-72 hours. Interested in learning more about this service? Check our in-depth Interlibrary Loan and Document Delivery guide.

5) The Health Sciences Research Commons Can Expand the Reach of Your Research!

Health Sciences Research Commons (HSRC) is Himmelfarb’s institutional repository, and is a perfect place for you to share your research output during your time at GW. All faculty, researchers, students (with the sponsorship of a faculty member), and staff affiliated with SMHS, SON, GWSPH at GW are eligible to submit their scholarly works to HSRC. By placing your work in HSRC, your work will be easily shareable and discoverable via Google Scholar and other search engines. If you have questions about the HSRC, take a look at the FAQ page or contact Sara Hoover (, Metadata and Scholarly Publishing Librarian, for more information.

This top five list is just a glimpse into all that Himmelfarb has to offer! In addition to the resources mentioned above, we have numerous research guides on a wide variety of topics. Tutorials are also available on a variety of topics. Himmelfarb welcomes you to the GW community! 



GW is committed to digital accessibility. If you experience a barrier that affects your ability to access content on this page, let us know via the Accessibility Feedback Form.