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The carnage of substandard research during the COVID-19 pandemic: a call for quality
  1. Katrina A Bramstedt1,2
  1. 1 Luxembourg Agency for Research Integrity, Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg
  2. 2 Bond University Faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Professor Katrina A Bramstedt, Bond University Faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia; txbioethics{at}


Worldwide there are currently over 1200 research studies being performed on the topic of COVID-19. Many of these involve children and adults over age 65 years. There are also numerous studies testing investigational vaccines on healthy volunteers. No research team is exempt from the pressures and speed at which COVID-19 research is occurring. And this can increase the risk of honest error as well as misconduct. To date, 33 papers have been identified as unsuitable for public use and either retracted, withdrawn, or noted with concern. Asia is the source of most of these manuscripts (n=19; 57.6%) with China the largest Asian subgroup (n=11; 57.9%). This paper explores these findings and offers guidance for responsible research practice during pandemics.

  • research ethics
  • epidemiology
  • public health ethics

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  • Contributors Bramstedt KA is the sole author.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests The author owns a private consulting company focused on bioethics and clinical ethics (AskTheEthicist, LLC).

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available upon request.