Coronavirus will improve scientific collaboration
COVID-19 research efforts are reshaping how scientists communicate with each other.
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The competitive landscape of scientific research, where prestige, accolades, and compensation are tied to who can publish important findings first, incentivizes scientists to conceal their work from rival groups until the last possible minute. This culture of secrecy has led to inefficiencies in past attempts to collaborate on urgent crises such as disease outbreaks, but the magnitude of the problem presented by COVID-19 is changing that. Scientists studying the coronavirus are making unprecedented use of collaborative tools including preprint servers, where new results can be made available before final publication in peer-reviewed journals. In February 2020, virologist Isabella Eckerle of the Geneva Centre for Emerging Viral Diseases remarked that the collaborative effort tackling COVID-19 "feels like things are transitioning to a completely new culture of doing research," while epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health said that "intense communication has catalyzed an unusual level of collaboration among scientists that, combined with scientific advances, has enabled research to move faster than during any previous outbreak."