What a world-class research paper taught us


March 22, 2023

In early 2022, the COVID-19 pandemic was still a threat looming in every corner of the world, no matter how well vaccination programs had been carried out.

Our research lab back then published a review paper in HSSComms on January 18, 2022 [1]. That paper presented the principles and systemic thinking endorsing the foundational concepts of this collaborative platform. Only two months after our publication, a group of scientists from Sweden published another paper evaluating scientific advice regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, an extremely hot topic and highly debatable throughout the pandemic [2].

Figure 1: 320K reads of paper [2] after one year.

The Swedish paper [2] has taught us something invaluable, which we would like to share here with the community.

First, a research study should be conducted with the sole purpose of contributing knowledge to the audiences, policymakers, and peers included. Therefore, its readership and reach will be the ultimate measure of its contribution. Paper [2] has been very successful, meaning its valuable contribution has been fully recognized. Today is its first anniversary, and we, who have no personal or professional relationships with anybody in the authoring team, are here now writing something to celebrate its anniversary! The paper [2] has at least 320,000 reads and a staggering Altmetric score of 10720. These are the true measure of impact on a global scale. Although it has a much lower number of citations than ours [1], its real impact has far exceeded ours.

Or like I. M. Verma of PNAS once wrote: “Impact, not impact factor” [3].

Second, we learned from the authors of [2] that the desire to contribute would have to continue, and a significant work should not ignore the impact that a wider audience could actually feel; for this, people would be willing to read. Finally, on March 15, 2023, we had our paper published [4]. Perhaps this paper has been welcomed by the readers because the statistics presented in Fig. 2 show a streak of very high numbers of daily reads, something we have rarely seen before.

Figure 2: The first 15,000 reads of the paper [4] in its first week after publication.

Our final remark is that we understand that even though the statistics have shown spectacular growth in the readership of our paper [4], the Swedish COVID-19 will remain a monument for us to learn from. To reach the total 320K reads, our Swedish peers have gained roughly 875 reads every day over the past 365 days. They truly made a huge impact that we can feel.


[1] Vuong QH, et al. (2022). Covid-19 vaccines production and societal immunization under the serendipity-mindsponge-3D knowledge management theory and conceptual framework. Humanities and Social Sciences Communications, 9, 22.

[2] Brusselaers N, et al. (2022). Evaluation of science advice during the COVID-19 pandemic in Sweden. Humanities and Social Sciences Communications, 9, 91.

[3] Verma IM. (2015). Impact, not impact factor. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(26), 7875-7876.

[4] Vuong QH, et al. (2023). Near-Suicide Phenomenon: An Investigation into the Psychology of Patients with Serious Illnesses Withdrawing from Treatment. IJERPH, 20(6), 5173.

tags:   research impact