The Public Health Scotland (PHS) repository of COVID-19 research launched on 17 March 2021, bringing together research from PHS and Scotland’s Higher Education Institutions into a single, searchable platform. Julia Green, Knowledge Services Manager at PHS, discusses the next steps for this resource, and how it can add value as we move towards COVID-19 recovery.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic the research community, in Scotland and worldwide, began to produce research at a speed and volume not previously seen. To get knowledge into the public domain as quickly as possible, research was produced in a range of media and on a range of platforms, making it difficult to find and use in a coherent way.

The Knowledge Services team at PHS worked with colleagues to identify a digital solution to this issue for Scotland and created a single platform for research by PHS and Scotland’s universities. This enables librarians, researchers and policy makers looking for COVID-19 research to easily access, search and use this evidence.

Scotland's pandemic research

Scotland’s researchers have made a significant contribution to the international research response to COVID-19. Large scale research collaborations around vaccine development and rollout, risk of hospitalisation, and impact of variants such as Omicron all contributed to our collective knowledge and understanding of COVID-19.

Image caption Example of research found on the COVID-19 Research Repository
Example of research found on the COVID-19 Research Repository

From emergency to recovery

As our health and care service and systems move to  a recovery phase, it is likely that the focus  of Scotland’s research and use of repository content will shift to one of redesign and systemic change for service improvement and the reduction of inequalities.

It is essential that those planning for a fairer, more equitable society in Scotland, whether in local government, national government or third sector, have quick and easy access to the evidence base around COVID-19 recovery in Scotland, and that this underpins and influences decision making for a Scotland where everybody thrives.

The Scottish Government makes clear the scale of the challenges remaining for Scotland and the world in its COVID-19 recovery strategy. Key areas of focus will be to:

  • address the systemic inequalities made worse by COVID-19
  • make progress towards a wellbeing economy
  • accelerate inclusive person-centred public services.

None of these challenges can be solved by quick fixes. They will require long term planning and structural change, underpinned by high quality evidence gathered from published research, lived experience and experts in these areas.

Understanding how our research is used

As well as ensuring access to Scotland’s COVID-19 research through a single platform, we also want to gain a better understanding of the extent to which Scotland’s COVID-19 research is being used, and how it is influencing and responding to change. For this reason we have integrated a tool called Altmetric into the repository, which allows us to see at a glance who is talking about or using research through social media, traditional media, policy documents or academic citations. This year we are developing processes for the routine reporting of this information to help understand the use, influence and impact of our research.

Image caption Altmetric tool providing insight into use of research on COVID-19 in pregnancy
Example of Altemtric tool being used for insight into who is talking about or using research on COVID-19 and pregnant women

Browse the COVID-19 Research Repository

For further information about this work, or to discuss opportunities for partnership working to promote and understand use of Scotland’s COVID-19 research, please contact julia.green@phs.scot

Last updated: 16 September 2022