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Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Global Economy Dissertation Topics

Published by Carmen Troy at January 6th, 2023 , Revised On August 15, 2023


We are currently confined to our homes by a novel, global virus named Coronavirus, which in medical science is known as COVID-19. The Coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak has redefined our relationships with the outside world and the government. The crisis had a large-scale effect on the economy of the world.

To help you get started with brainstorming for ideas, we have developed a list of amazing topics that can be used for writing your dissertation.

These topics have been developed by PhD qualified writers of our team , so you can trust to use these topics for drafting your own dissertation.

You may also want to start your dissertation by requesting a brief research proposal from our writers on any of these topics, which includes an introduction to the topic, research question , aim and objectives, literature review , along with the proposed methodology of research to be conducted. Let us know if you need any help in getting started.

Check our dissertation example to get an idea of how to structure your dissertation .

Review step by step guide on how to write your own dissertation here.

Topic 1: COVID-19 and Disruptive Innovation in Global Supply Chains: A Study to Find Innovations in Supply Chain Processes due to COVID-19

Research Aim: This research aims to find the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on disruptive innovations in global supply chains. It will analyze the changes in the supply chain process across the globe. It will find the overall impact of COVID-19 based disruptive innovations on the global supply chain process and its segments such as production, distribution, etc. It will study different industries to show how COVID-19 forced them to innovate their supply chain networks and tailor them in future COVID-19 restrictions.

Topic 2: COVID-19 and Employment Disruption: A Study to find the Impact of COVID-19 on the Creation and Elimination of Employment around the Globe

Research Aim: This study intends to find the impact of COVID-19 on the creation and elimination of employment around the globe. It will show COVID-19 forced businesses around the world to let go of some jobs and adopt new ones. It will further show what kind of skills employee requires to work in the post-COVID world. Moreover, it will show the effects of COVID-19 employment disruptions on the equilibrium in the job markets (labor demand vs. supply) and the new wage rates.

Topic 3: Does COVID-19 Lockdowns Force Emerging Economies to Halt their CO_2 Emission Reduction Goal to Restart their Economies?

Research Aim: This research analyzes the impact of COVID-19 on the emerging economies’ progress in CO_2 emission reduction goal to restart their economies. It will assess the effects of COVID-19 on emerging economies’ aggregate production and employment levels. Therefore, it will show whether to take aggregate output and employment back to pre-COVID levels, do emerging economies need to forgo their CO_2 emission reduction goals. Moreover, it will use successful cases to recommend small emerging economies to increase output and employment and carry on CO_2 emission reduction goals.

Topic 4: Who Won the COVID-19 Vaccine War? A Study on the Global Inequality in the COVID-19 Vaccination among Underdeveloped and Developing Countries

Research Aim: This research assesses the global inequality in the vaccination distribution among underdeveloped and developing countries. It will find the political and economic factors which influenced the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. Moreover, it will analyze the impact of inequality within underdeveloped and developing countries on vaccine distribution among the rich and poor. It will also find why underdeveloped and developing countries can’t vaccinate the entire population? How can they vaccinate the whole population, and what is the cost per individual?

Topic 5: The International Political Economy (IPE) of COVID-19: A Study to Find the Potential Political and Economic Winners of COVID-19

Research Aim: This study investigates the International Political Economy (IPE) of COVID-19. It identifies the major political and economic winners of this pandemic. It will find how some political powers and businesses took advantage of the pandemic and increased their political and financial capital. It will analyze significant countries such as the US, China, Japan, etc. Large businesses such as Google, Apple, Amazon, Pizer, etc., took advantage of the pandemic by selling new products. Moreover, it will highlight some significant lessons from the pandemic, which can help small countries to prepare themselves for the future.

Coronavirus Covid-19 and Global Economy Research Topics – Editor’s Pick

Research to identify the impacts of coronavirus on the economy.

Research Aim: This study will focus on identifying the impacts of Coronavirus on the global economy.

Research to study the impacts of Coronavirus on the real estate sector

Research Aim: This research aims at identifying the impacts of coronavirus on the real estate sector. Is real estate a better option for investment during COVID-19?

Research to study the impacts of Coronavirus on the stock market.

Research Aim: This research aims at identifying the impacts of Coronavirus on the stock market.

Research to identify the impacts of Coronavirus on banking and the future of banking after the pandemic.

Research Aim: This research aims at identifying the impacts of Coronavirus on banking and the future of banking after the pandemic. What are the predictions? What challenges may come across? How to overcome those challenges?

More Coronavirus and World Economy Dissertation Topics

Topic 1: an assessment of the coronavirus outbreak in the world.

Research Aim: The research would assess how the Coronavirus has spread worldwide. This would include the source of the virus, which is Wuhan, China. Along with it, the factors responsible for the spread of the virus, such as physical contacting, sneezing, and coughing must be discussed. The current death toll that has occurred because of the blowout of the virus must be discussed along with the countries affected the most such as Italy. The research aims to study the spread and effect of viruses overall.

Topic 2: The economic suffering due to the plague of COVID-19

Research Aim: The research must assess the disruption that has been created by the spread of COVID-19 in the world. This must include the countries’ global lockdown and the shutting of industries, resulting in soaring unemployment rates and a dramatic decline in economic statistics. The research aims to look at the economic consequences generated by the outbreak of coronavirus COVID-19 in general.

Topic 3: The major sufferings in the economy as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak

Research Aim: The research must assess the reasons behind the rising suffering in the specific business sectors and industries, for instance, the supply chain is suffering because China has become the manufacturing hub, which has brought disruption in the supply chain of the whole industry due to complete lockdown in the country. The research aims to study majorly affected regions such as the entertainment sector, tourism industry, restaurant sector, etc.

Topic 4: Estimated changes in the economic statistics by the outbreak of Coronavirus

Research Aim: The recent expected changes by the professionals about the impact of COVID-19 on the global economic statistics must be discussed in the research such as the estimated growth rates of the world and China were predicted to be 0% and 1.6%, respectively, for the year 2020 by the Ethan Harris, head of global economic research in the Bank of America according to his recent interview. Similarly, articles from other professionals must be included in the research to focus on the effects of an outbreak on the economy.

Topic 5: The impact of Coronavirus recession on consumer activity and economy

Research Aim: The research must assess the impact that the outbreak of the virus would have on the economy and, specifically, consumer behaviour as they drive three-quarters of the economic activity and are declining at a great pace. The impact on both small and large business enterprises must also be discussed in the research. The research aims to see whether the spread of the virus would alter consumer behaviour and the behaviours consumers would adapt.

Topic 6: The good and bad impacts of COVID-19 on the economy

Research Aim: The research would assess both the bad and the good side of the economy created by the spread of coronavirus COVID-19, such as the recession caused by the outbreak of the virus which is the bad side of the economy. The positive side consists of a reduction in mass consumption and stronger domestic supply chains.

Topic 7: The major regions and business industries affected by the spread of COVID-19

Research Aim: The research would assess the regions (cities and countries) which are being affected by the spread of coronavirus COVID-19 and the major impacted business industries such as the food industries like the restaurants are completely locked down after the outbreak of the virus and the people that were engaged in those industries are unemployed now. The research aims to focus on such industries and the impact of their lowered productivity on the economy.

Topic 8: The consequential effect of COVID-19 on financial markets and the economy.

Research Aim: The financial markets, for example, stock markets, are a great indicator of the economy’s stability. The research aims to focus on the effect on the financial markets generated by the spread of coronavirus COVID-19 such as the crash of global financial market 28th of March’ 2020 must be discussed herein which the people throughout the world witnessed a dramatic decline in the global stock market. The effects of this incident on the economy must be included in the research.

Topic 9: Recession as a consequence of the Coronavirus outbreak

Research Aim: The research would assess the consequences and the recession, which has already hit some parts of the world and is likely to hit others. The research aims to study the types of recessions that the world is likely to face, such as real recession, financial crisis, and policy recession. The consequences and the likelihood of an economic recession must be discussed in the research.

Topic 10: The recovery of the economy from the Coronavirus shock

Research Aim: Once the virus has been eliminated from the world and the people are cured through medical assistance, it would now be a crucial responsibility of the governments to get the economies back to their original conditions. The research aims to look at the recovery paths, consisting of a V-shaped, U-shaped, and L-shaped recovery path based on the economy’s scenario and condition. The effects of each type of recovery path must be discussed along with the fiscal and monetary policies applied.

Topic 11: The time spam of economic consequences of COVID-19 outbreak

Research Aim: The research would assess the intensity of the economic consequences of Coronavirus as it would help assess how long they would last in the economy. The research aims to assess certain aspects affected by the recession, such as the wealth of the people, the performance of financial markets and the consumer’s behaviour, and the disruption in the supply chain. The lasting capability of the recession depends on the disturbance in these regions mainly.

Topic 12: Economic risks generated by COVID-19 outbreak and government intervention

Research Aim: The research must assess the economic disruptions created by the outbreak of COVID-19 and the government’s role in controlling those risks. The research aims to study the historical insights of the roles played by the leaders at the times of recessions in the economy and apply them to the present time. Leaders play a great role in controlling the recessionary period of the economy.

Topic 13: Could the World Health Organization (WHO) play a role in controlling the economic recession headed by COVID-19?

Research Aim: The research must first assess what WHO has described  COVID-19 and what precautions it has asked the people to take. The research aims to link the precautionary measures suggested by WHO for controlling the spread of the pandemic, which would eventually result in the betterment of the economy as people would return to their work and the industries would start to function again.

Topic 14: How has the COVID-19 outbreak shaped the working practices of business?

Research Aim: The research must assess the alternative working practices which the businesses have adopted. The research aims to study the ‘work from home’ strategy of the business, its advantages and disadvantages, and how it disrupts the smooth functioning of the businesses. The research may include the interviews or the views of people studying or working from home in the current situation.

Topic 15: Which business industry has been affected the most by the COVID-19 outbreak?

Research Aim: The research would assess the most affected industries: the ‘tourism industry’ and ‘food industry’. The research aims to study the companies in the respective industries and how they fail with their rapidly declining profits. The research must study the huge airline industries such as Emirates and international food chains such as McDonald’s and their losses in the current situation.

Topic 16: City lockdowns due to COVID-19 outbreak and their effects on the global economy

Research Aim: The research must assess the lockdowns currently occurring throughout the globe and which has jammed the economic wheel completely. The research aims to evaluate the factors responsible for the city lockdowns and the people’s alternative ways. This must include the scarcity of resources as people have started to hoard the frequently used items.

Topic 17: Likelihood of the recessionary phase of COVID-19 turning into depression

Research Aim: The research must assess the intensity of the recession created by the COVID-19 and its effects on the economy of the world. The research aims to get an insight into the government activities in this regard and the business industry, which would indicate the likeliness of the recessionary phase turning into depression. Recommendations could be made to point out what changes must be brought for controlling the economic situation.

Topic 18: Government role in controlling the spread of COVID-19 and eventually the economic meltdown

Research Aim: The research would assess the role the government of every country is playing to control the spread of Coronavirus, such as the medical aids given to the people with the role of the medical department of the countries. The research aims to look at the government’s role to save the people, ultimately saving the collapsing economy. The role of the World Health Organization must also be discussed in that regard.

Topic 19: COVID-19 economic recession and the changing business strategies

Research Aim: The research would assess the alternative ways businesses adapt to cope with the recession, such as creating a cross-functional response team for COVID-19, supply chain stabilization, and moving to online platforms to get closer to the customers. The research aims to look at how the companies know the people’s demands and fulfill their needs despite the difficult situation.

Topic 20: What must the businesses do to overcome the recessionary consequences of COVID-19.

Research Aim: The research aims to look at the historical records of how companies have coped while going through a recessionary phase, the strategies they adopted and kept the employees motivated. The research could use examples from the recession of 2008 and recommend strategies to the company.

The world currently needs to know what the economic condition is currently prevailing around the globe. There are several themes related to this topic that is not yet discovered. In the area of Coronavirus and the global economy, the topics mentioned above could make a significant contribution.

How Can Research Prospect Help?

Research Prospect writers can send several custom topic ideas to your email address. Once you have chosen a topic that suits your needs and interests, you can order for our dissertation outline service , which will include a brief introduction to the topic, research questions , literature review , methodology , expected results , and conclusion . The dissertation outline will enable you to review the quality of our work before placing the order for our full dissertation writing service !

Important Notes:

As an economics student looking to get good grades, it is essential to develop new ideas and experiment on existing covid-19 and the global economy – i.e., to add value and interest in your research topic.

The covid-19 and global economy fields are sure to become vast and interrelated to many other academic disciplines like civil engineering , construction , law , and even healthcare . That is why it is imperative to create a covid-19 and global economy topic that is articular, sound, and actually solves a practical problem that may be rampant in the field.

We can’t stress how important it is to develop a logical research topic based on your entire research. There are several significant downfalls to getting your topic wrong; your supervisor may not be interested in working on it, the topic has no academic creditability, the research may not make logical sense, there is a possibility that the study is not viable.

This impacts your time and efforts in writing your dissertation , as you may end up in the cycle of rejection at the initial stage of the dissertation. That is why we recommend reviewing existing research to develop a topic, taking advice from your supervisor, and even asking for help in this particular stage of your dissertation.

While developing a research topic, keeping our advice in mind will allow you to pick one of the best covid-19 and global economy dissertation topics that fulfill your requirement of writing a research paper and add to the body of knowledge.

Therefore, it is recommended that when finalizing your dissertation topic, you read recently published literature to identify gaps in the research that you may help fill.

Remember- dissertation topics need to be unique, solve an identified problem, be logical, and be practically implemented. Please look at some of our above sample covid-19 and global economy dissertation topics to get an idea for your own dissertation.

How to Structure your Dissertation

A well-structured dissertation can help students to achieve a high overall academic grade.

  • A Title Page
  • Acknowledgements
  • Declaration
  • Abstract: A summary of the research completed
  • Table of Contents
  • Introduction : This chapter includes the project rationale, research background, key research aims and objectives, and the research problems. An outline of the structure of a dissertation can also be added to this chapter.
  • Literature Review : This chapter presents relevant theories and frameworks by analysing published and unpublished literature on the chosen research topic to address research questions . The purpose is to highlight and discuss the selected research area’s relative weaknesses and strengths whilst identifying any research gaps. Break down the topic and key terms that can positively impact your dissertation and your tutor.
  • Methodology : The data collection and analysis methods and techniques employed by the researcher are presented in the Methodology chapter, which usually includes research design , research philosophy, research limitations, code of conduct, ethical consideration, data collection methods, and data analysis strategy .
  • Findings and Analysis : Findings of the research are analysed in detail under the Findings and Analysis chapter. All key findings/results are outlined in this chapter without interpreting the data or drawing any conclusions. It can be useful to include graphs, charts, and tables in this chapter to identify meaningful trends and relationships.
  • Discussion and Conclusion : The researcher presents his interpretation of results in this chapter and states whether the research hypothesis has been verified or not. An essential aspect of this section of the paper is to link the results and evidence from the literature. Recommendations with regards to implications of the findings and directions for the future may also be provided. Finally, a summary of the overall research, along with final judgments, opinions, and comments, must be included in the form of suggestions for improvement.
  • References : This should be completed following your University’s requirements
  • Bibliography
  • Appendices : Any additional information, diagrams, and graphs used to complete the dissertation but not part of the dissertation should be included in the Appendices chapter. Essentially, the purpose is to expand the information/data.

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How to find covid-19 and global economy dissertation topics.

To find COVID-19 and global economy dissertation topics:

  • Examine the pandemic’s economic effects.
  • Study sectors like tourism, health, and tech.
  • Analyze policy responses worldwide.
  • Explore supply chain disruptions.
  • Investigate remote work trends.
  • Consider long-term economic shifts.

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Content from global health (ghwg) working group, do you want to write a covid dissertation.

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Professor Sophie Harman, a member of our Global Health Working Group, gives some advice about coming up with dissertation topics related to COVID.

Part of the joy and point of writing a dissertation is for students to come up with their own subject and research question. Both students and supervisors know this is often the most painful part of the process (second only to the week before deadline – start early, marathon not a sprint etc!). I know good supervisors can support students writing dissertations in all manner of subjects and this is what makes it so rewarding. However, in a year where we’re all dealing with increased pressure, demands on our time, and managing screen headaches, I thought I’d put my 15 years global health politics experience to good use and make some suggestions/pointers to help you when a student comes to you as says the inevitable: [1]

‘I was thinking of writing my dissertation on COVID-19’

Below are 10 suggested questions with suggested literature and methods, covering institutions, security, race, policy, vaccines, gender, aesthetics, expertise, knowledge. These by no means cover everything and by no means prescribe how I think a dissertation on that topic should be written. If helpful, see them as jump-off points to think about these topics. The only caution I have is make sure all projects are only focused on the start/first 6 months of COVID-19 – we are only at the end of the beginning. This is also a pre-emptive move to stop you getting your students to email me for ideas.

Institutions and global governance

1. Is the WHO capable of preventing and responding to major pandemics?

Literature: WHO, IHR, GOARN, global health security + previous outbreaks (Ebola, pandemic flu, HIV/AIDS)

Methods: Case Studies – look at the tools/instruments e.g. IHR, GOARN, Regional offices etc

2. Why did states pursue different responses to the COVID-19 outbreak?

Literature: Global health security, state compliance in IR, international law and international organisations

Methods: Pick two contrasting case studies e.g. England/Scotland, Canada/US, Germany/UK, Sweden/Denmark and then look at different levels of policy and decision making per chapter – Global, National, Regional/local and rationales behind decisions from – expert evidence, speeches, policy decisions, policy timelines

3. How can we understand the gender dimensions of COVID-19?

Literature: Gender and global health, Feminist IPE, Black Feminism, WPS (if looking at violence)

Methods: Explore 1 – 3 key themes from the literature – Care and domestic burden, Health Care Workers, Domestic violence in depth. Depending on networks and contacts, could run focus groups (ethics! And definitely NOT if doing violence), or analyse survey data – lots of surveys done on this and the raw data is always made available if have the skills to play with it.

Political economy

4. Are states the main barrier to vaccine equity?

Literature: Vaccine access and nationalism, access to treatment, IPE of health and trade, pharmaceutical companies, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Methods: Look at the different stages of vaccine development for 2/3 trials and consider the role of States (where putting money, public statements, any actions e.g. email hacks), Researchers (where get money from, how collaborating, knowledge sharing), Institutions (CEPI, GAVI, WHO), and the Private Sector (pharma and foundations – who’s investing, what is their return – and private security companies – who protects the commodity?). Think: interests, investment, barriers/opportunities.

Security and foreign policy

5. Were state security strategies prepared for major pandemics prior to COVID-19? If not, why not?

Literature: Global health security, securitisation and desecuritisation of health

Methods: 2 – 3 state case studies or 1 in detail, think about Strategy, Training/Preparedness, Actors. Content analysis of security strategies and defence planning and budget allocations, speeches, training, simulations etc.

6. What is the role of images in responding to outbreaks?

Literature: Aesthetics and IR, behaviour change communication and images in public health

Methods: 3 case studies on different types of images in COVID-19, e.g. 1. Global public health messaging; 2. National public health messaging; 3. Community Expression – OR pick one of these options and explore in depth.

Race and racism

7. Could the racial inequalities of COVID-19 been foreseen and prevented?

Literature: Racism and global health, racism and domestic health systems, Black Feminism, Critical Trans Politics

Method: Option 1 – look maternal health as a proxy in three case study countries e.g. Brazil, US, UK; Option 2 – pick one country and look at three health issues prior to COVID-19 e.g. Maternal Health, Diabetes, Heart Disease.

Knowledge, discourse, and experts

8. Is COVID-19 the biggest global pandemic of a generation?

Literature: Postcolonial/decolonial theory, poststructuralism, Politics of HIV/AIDS, pandemic flu

Method: Discourse analysis around ‘once in a lifetime rhetoric’ – who says it, when, and why; contrast with discourse around COVID-19 from countries with previous outbreaks e.g. Sierra Leone, DRC, China, Indonesia, South Africa, Brazil (you’ll need to be selective as can’t measure discourse from all states! Think through why you make your choices here and how they relate to each other) OR contrast COVID-19 with a previous pandemic, e.g. HIV/AIDS

9. What knowledge counts in COVID-19?

Literature: Postcolonial/decolonial theory, post-structuralism, IR and Global Health, politics of experts

Methods: Review lessons learned from previous outbreaks (there are lots of source material on this after Ebola and SARS for example) and how they led to changes/what learned for COVID-19; Stakeholder mapping and/or network analysis – Who are the experts? Look at backgrounds, types of knowledge and expertise, did they work on the Ebola response/HIV/AIDS in the early 2000s for example?; Case Study – UK/US – where have high concentration of public health experts and institutions, export knowledge to low and middle income countries, evidence of importing knowledge from these countries, especially given the experience?

UK/State responses

10. How can we understand/explain the first 6 months of the US/UK/Sweden/Australia/South Africa/China/Brazil/you choose! response to COVID-19?

WARNING! This is the question that could descend into a polemic so approach with absolute caution. I would strongly advise against, but have included to give a clearer steer.

The key with this question is to remember you are not submitting a public health or epidemiology dissertation, so bear in mind you probably don’t have the skills and knowledge to assess what was a good/bad public health decision (other than obvious ones such as PPE stocks for example). What you do have the skills to do is to look at the politics as to  why  a decision was taken and  how  it was taken – investigate what the different recommendations/guidance suggested, who followed/ignored/subverted it and what outcomes this produced.

Literature: health policy, public policy, state compliance IR

Methods: 1. Global – map what global advice there was and how did the state follow (or not) in preparedness and response and what was the rationale for doing so – political circumstances at the time, stated rationale for decision, who was making decision; 2. National – key public health decisions, commodities, social-economic consequences – how were these planned for/overlooked and why. To look at these two levels may require mixed methods of global and national policy timelines, stakeholder analysis, content analysis of speeches and recommendations, mapping changes to data presentation and access.

[1]  For the first two years of my career I supervised countless projects loosely based around ‘Is the War in Iraq illegal?’ I’m hoping some of the variety here will stop two years of ‘Is the UK government’s respond to COVID-19 a national scandal?’ or ‘Is the WHO fit for purpose?’ – two great topics, but tiresome after a bit.

Reproduced with kind permission from Global Politics Unbound at QMU.

Photo by iMattSmart on Unsplash

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The dissertation journey during the COVID-19 pandemic: Crisis or opportunity?

Despite dissertation's significance in enhancing the quality of scholarly outputs in tourism and hospitality fields, insufficient research investigates the challenges and disruptions students experience amidst a public health crisis. This study aims to fill the research gaps and integrate attribution and self-efficacy theories to understand how the COVID-19 pandemic influences students' decision-making and behaviours during the dissertation writing process. Qualitative exploration with 15 graduate students was conducted. The results indicate that adjustment of data collection approaches was the most shared external challenge, while students' religious background and desire for publishing COVID related topics were primary internal motivations.

1. Introduction

Dissertation writing is an essential part of academic life for graduate students ( Yusuf, 2018 ). By writing the dissertation, students can build research skills to analyse new data and generate innovative concepts to inform future scientific studies ( Fadhly et al., 2018 ; Keshavarz & Shekari, 2020 ). Therefore, scholars in higher education are dedicated to guiding students to complete impactful dissertations. Duffy et al. (2018) note that thesis advisors can empower students to explore novel ideas and identify new products or services for the tourism and hospitality industry beyond the traditional contribution of extending the existing research literature. Namely, the intriguing ideas proposed in students’ dissertations will eventually enrich and diversify the literature in the tourism and hospitality academia. Furthermore, the process of identifying impactful ideas will prepare students for a successful career either as a researcher or practitioner.

However, dissertation writing can be a challenging experience for both native and non-native writers. Students are sometimes confused about the characteristics of the dissertation or the expectations from the academics and practitioners ( Bitchener et al., 2010 ). A graduate student has to make numerous decisions during the dissertation writing journey. To successfully guide the students through this complicated writing journey, thesis advisors need to understand the factors influencing students' writing motivation and decision-making process. Previous studies have suggested these influential factors can be broadly classified into external sources (e.g., advisor/supervisor's influence, trends in the field, or publishability of the topic) and internal sources (e.g., researcher's background or researcher interest; Fadhly et al., 2018 ; I'Anson & Smith, 2004 ; Keshavarz & Shekari, 2020 ). Despite this classification, the discussions related to the impacts of macro-environments, such as socio-cultural trends, economic conditions, or ecology and physical environments, on students' dissertation writing are extremely lacking. Since the time background and the world situation when writing a dissertation are also critical factors influencing students' writing goals, more research should be done to broaden students' dissertation writing experiences.

The COVID-19 pandemic has immensely impacted global education, students' learning, and research activities. According to Dwivedi et al. (2020) , the COVID-19 pandemic has affected international higher education leading to the closure of schools to control the spread of the virus. Meanwhile, Alvarado et al. (2021) found that the global health crises have seriously disrupted doctoral students' Dissertations in Practice (DiP). Specifically, students must learn new methodologies and adjust the research settings and sampling techniques because of virtual-only approaches. Some have to find new topics and research questions since the original one cannot be investigated during the quarantine period. However, students may turn this current crisis into an opportunity as they build a shared community and support each other's private and academic lives. Apparently, the crisis can result in a stronger bond of friendship, and this may generate more collaborative research projects in the future.

As mentioned earlier, some studies have tried to identify factors influencing students' dissertation writing journey, albeit lack considerations related to the effects of macro-environments. Given the severe impacts of COVID-19 on the macro-environments of global higher education and the tourism industry, this study aims to fill the research gap and explore how a public health crisis may influence graduate students' dissertation writing, especially in the field of tourism and hospitality. Specifically, this study utilizes attribution and self-efficacy theory as the research framework to examine the internal and external factors that influenced graduate students' dissertation journey amidst the COVID-19 pandemic (see Fig. 1 ). The use of attribution and self-efficacy theory is appropriate in the current study because both explain how people make sense of society, influences of others, their decision-making process and behaviours. Although some may argue these theories are outdated, many scholars have used them to explain students' behaviours and experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, Xu et al. (2021) found that social capital and learning support positively influence students' self-efficacy, employability and well-being amidst the crisis. Meanwhile, Lassoued et al. (2020) used attribution theory to explore the university professors and their students' learning experience during the COVID-19 pandemic. They found that both groups attributed the problems to reaching high quality in distance learning to students' weak motivation to understand abstract concepts in the absence of in-person interaction.

Fig. 1

The theoretical framework.

Understanding the lived experience of students would enable stakeholders in tourism and hospitality education to deeply comprehend the plight and predicaments of students face and the innovate ways to mitigate those challenges amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, this study utilizes a qualitative approach to explore the impacts of internal and extremal factors on the dissertation writing process. The study was set in the context of an international graduate hospitality and tourism program in Taiwan known for its diverse student body. The research question that guides such qualitative exploration is: How have external and internal factors influenced graduate students’ dissertation writing journey during the COVID-19 pandemic?

This study is timely and critical considering the uncertainties that characterize pandemics which aggravates the already perplexities that associate dissertation writing. It throws light on factors that are susceptible to pandemic tendencies and factors that are resilient to crisis. The findings of this study would provide insights into how crises affect academia and suggest effective ways for higher educational institutions, academicians, and other key stakeholders to forge proactive solutions for future occurrences. Especially, higher education institutions would be well-positioned and informed on areas to train students and faculty members to ameliorate the impacts associated with pandemics.

2. Literature review

2.1. covid-19 and its impacts on educational activities.

Public health crises have ramifications for educational behaviour and choices; this is especially true of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most countries and institutions of higher education are still battling with the consequences suffered from the COVID-19 pandemic. Not surprisingly, there has been a tsunami of studies on the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic (e.g., Dwivedi et al., 2020 ; Manzano-Leon et al., 2021 ; Alam & Parvin, 2021 ). Assessing these studies, we found that although there are substantial extant studies on the negative implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, limited studies have also emphasised the positive side of the pandemic on education. For example, Dwivedi et al. (2020) concluded that the COVID-19 had revealed the necessity of online teaching in higher educational institutions. For they observed that at Loughborough, though face-to-face teaching is practised, one cannot relegate online teaching as some students will be unable to return to campus due to border closures. Thus, faculty members have to convert existing material to the online format. Furthermore, Manzano-Leon et al. (2021) also pointed out that the COVID-19 has allowed students to interact with their peers beyond traditional education. They pinpointed that playful learning strategies such as escape rooms enable students to interact well. Alam and Parvin (2021) also underscored students who studied during the COVID-19 pandemic performed better academically than those before. This finding suggests that online education is supposedly more active than face-to-face mode.

Apart from these positive implications aforementioned, most studies have emphasised the negative impacts of COVID-19 on education. Dwivedi et al. (2020) reviewed how the global higher education sector has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. It caused the closure of schools, national lockdowns and social distancing, and a proliferation of online teaching. COVID-19 forced both teachers and students to work and study remotely from home. According to Dhawan (2020) , the rapid deployment of online learning to protect students, faculty, communities, societies, and nations affected academic life. Online learning seemed like a panacea in the face of COVID-19's severe symptoms; however, the switch to online also brought several challenges for teachers and students. Lall and Singh (2020) noted that disadvantages of online learning include the absence of co-curricular activities and students' lack of association with friends at school. Many studies have also confirmed the pandemic's adverse effects on students' mental health, emotional wellbeing, and academic performance ( Bao, 2020 ; de Oliveira Araújo et al., 2020 ).

Despite the pandemic has caused numerous difficulties for many educational institutions, scholars and educators have risen to the challenges and tried to plan effective strategies to mitigate such stressing circumstances. For example, to respond the needs of a better understanding of students' social-emotional competencies for coping the COVID-19 outbreak, Hadar et al. (2020) utilized the VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) framework to analyse teachers and students' struggles. Each element of VUCA is defined as follows:

  • ● Volatility: the speed and magnitude of the crisis;
  • ● Uncertainty: the unpredictability of events during the crisis;
  • ● Complexity: the confounding events during the crisis;
  • ● Ambiguity: the confusing and mixed meanings during the crisis.

This analysis and conceptualization of crises help to explain some of the students’ concerns on mental health, emotional wellbeing, and academic performance ( Bao, 2020 ; de Oliveira Araújo et al., 2020 ).

The pandemic also exacerbated existing challenges facing students and universities across the globe. According to Rose-Redwood et al. (2020) , the COVID-19 endangered the career prospects of both students and scholars. University partnerships with the arts sector, community service, and non-governmental organizations also suffered. The tourism and hospitality (academic) field faced unique challenges in light of COVID-19 without exception. Forms of tourism such as over-tourism and cruise tourism were temporarily unobservable, and most pre-crisis studies and forecast data were no longer relevant ( Bausch et al., 2021 ). Consequently, many empirical and longitudinal studies were halted due to the incomparability of data. Even though many studies have been conducted to explore the impacts of the COVID pandemic on educational activities, none of these studies has addressed how this public health crisis has affected graduate students’ dissertation journey. Therefore, the present research is needed to fill the gaps in the mainstream literature.

2.2. Attribution theory and self-efficacy

The current study employs attribution theory and self-efficacy to understand graduate students' dissertation writing journeys. Attribution theory explains how individuals interpret behavioural outcomes ( Weiner, 2006 ) and has been used in education and crisis management ( Abraham et al., 2020 ; Sanders et al., 2020 ). For example, Chen and Wu (2021) used attribution theory to understand the effects of attributing students' academic achievements to giftedness. They found that attributing students' academic success to giftedness had a positive indirect relationship with their academic achievement through self-regulated learning and negative learning emotions. However, attribution theory has been criticised for its inability to explain a person's behaviour comprehensively. This is well enunciated by Bandura (1986) that attribution theory does not necessarily describe all influential factors related to a person's behaviour. Instead, it provides in-depth accounts of one's self-efficacy. Hence, scholars have advocated the need for integrating self-efficacy into attribution theory ( Hattie et al., 2020 ).

Self-efficacy is closely related to attribution theory. Extant studies have investigated the essence of self-efficacy in education and its role on students' achievements ( Bartimote-Aufflick et al., 2016 ; Hendricks, 2016 ). For instance, in their educational research and implications for music, Hendricks (2016) found that teachers can empower students' ability and achievement through positive self-efficacy beliefs. This is achieved through Bandura's (1986) theoretical four sources of self-efficacy: vicarious experience, verbal/social persuasion, enactive mastery experience, and physiological and affective states. The current study integrates attribution theory and self-efficacy as the research framework to provide intellectual rigour and reasons underlined students' decision-making during their dissertation journey.

2.3. Internal and external factors that influence dissertation writing processes

This study considered both internal and external factors affecting graduate students' dissertation journeys in line with attribution theory. Internal factors are actions or behaviours within an individual's control ( LaBelle & Martin, 2014 ; Weiner, 2006 ). Many studies have evolved and attributed dissertation topic selection to internal considerations. For instance, I'Anson and Smith's (2004) study found that personal interest and student ability were essential for undergraduate students' thesis topic selection. Keshavarz and Shekari (2020) also found that personal interest is the primary motivation for choosing a specific thesis topic. In another study focused on undergraduate students at the English department, Husin and Nurbayani (2017) revealed that students' language proficiency was a dominant internal factor for their dissertation choice decisions.

On the other hand, external factors are forces beyond an individual's control ( LaBelle & Martin, 2014 ). Similar to internal factors, there is an avalanche of studies that have evolved and uncovered external factors that characterize students' dissertation decisions in the pre-COVID period (e.g., de Kleijn et al., 2012 ; Huin; Nurbayani, 2017 ; Keshavarz & Shekari, 2020 ; Pemberton, 2012 ; Shu et al., 2016; Sverdlik et al., 2018 ). For instance, de Kleijn et al. (2012) found that supervisor influence is critical in the student dissertation writing process. They further revealed that an acceptable relationship between supervisor and student leads to a higher and quality outcome; however, a high level of influence could lead to low satisfaction. Meanwhile, Pemberton (2012) delved into the extent teachers influence students in their dissertation process and especially topic selection. This study further underlined that most supervisors assist students to select topics that will sustain their interest and competence level. Unlike previous research, Keshavarz and Shekari (2020) found that research operability or feasibility was a critical external factor that informed students' dissertation decisions. In other words, practicality and usefulness are essential in determining the dissertation choices.

These studies above show how internal and external factors may determine students' dissertation decisions. Despite those studies providing valuable knowledge to broaden our understanding of which factors may play significant role in students' dissertation journeys, most of their focus was on undergraduate students and was conducted before COVID-19. Given that the learning experiences among graduate and undergraduate students as well as before and during the pandemic may differ significantly, there is a need to investigate what specific external and internal factors underline graduate students’ dissertation decisions during the COVID-19. Are those factors different from or similar to previous findings?

3. Methodology

Previous studies have disproportionately employed quantitative approaches to examine students' dissertation topic choice (e.g., Keshavarz & Shekari, 2020 ). Although the quantitative method can aid the researcher to investigate focal phenomena among larger samples and generalize the results, it has also been criticized for the lack of in-depth analysis or does not allow respondents to share their lived experiences. Given the rapid evolution and uncertainty linked with the COVID-19 pandemic, the contextual and social factors may drive individuals to respond to such challenges differently. Therefore, efforts toward analyzing individual experiences during the public health crisis are necessary to tailor individual needs and local educational policy implementation ( Tremblay et al., 2021 ). Accordingly, the current study adopts a qualitative approach grounded in the interpretivism paradigm to explore the factors affecting graduate students’ dissertation research activities and understand the in-depth meaning of writing a dissertation.

3.1. Data collection

Since statistical representation is not the aim of qualitative research, the purposive sampling instead of probability sampling technique was used for this study ( Holloway & Wheeler, 2002 ). Graduate students who were composing their dissertation and could demonstrate a clear understanding on the issues under study are selected as the target research subjects. To gain a rich data, the sample selection in the current study considers background, dissertation writing status, and nationality to ensure a diversified data set ( Ritchie et al., 2014 ). Data was collected from graduate students in Taiwan who were currently writing their dissertations. Taiwan was chosen as the research site because the pandemic initially had a minor impact on Taiwan than on other economically developed countries ( Wang et al., 2020 ). In the first year (2019–2020) of their study, the graduate students could conduct their research projects without any restrictions. Therefore, traditional data collections and research processes, such as face-to-face interview techniques or onsite questionnaire distributions were generally taught and implemented in Taiwanese universities at that time. However, in their second year of the graduate program (2021), the COVID-19 cases surged, and the government identified some domestic infection clusters in Taiwan. Thus, the ministry of education ordered universities to suspend in-person instruction and move to online classes from home as part of a national level 3 COVID-19 alert. Many graduate students have to modify their data collection plan and learn different software to overcome the challenges of new and stricter rules. As they have experienced the sudden and unexpected change caused by the COVID-19 in their dissertation writing journey, Taiwanese graduate students are deemed as suitable research participants in this research.

Following Keshavarz and Shekari (2020) , interview questions were extracted from the literature review and developed into a semi-structured guide. Semi-structured interview was employed allowing for probing and clarifying explanations. This also allowed both the interviewer and the interviewee to become co-researchers (Ritchie et al., 2005). The questions asked about internal, and external factors influencing dissertation writing (including topic selection and methodology) during COVID-19. Specifically, students were asked how they chose their dissertation topic, how they felt COVID-19 had impacted their dissertation, and what significant events influenced their academic choices during the pandemic. Before each interview, the purpose of the study was explained and respondents provided informed consent. All the interviews were audio-recorded and later transcribed.

Interviews, lasting about 50–60 min, were conducted with 15 graduate students as data saturation was achieved after analysing 15 interviews. The saturation was confirmed by the repetition of statements like, “personal interest motivated me”, “my supervisor guided me to select a topic”, and “I changed my data collection procedure to online”.

3.2. Data analysis and trustworthiness

Before the formal interview, two educational experts who are familiar with qualitative research were solicited to validate the wording, semantics, and meanings of the interview questions. Then, a pilot test was conducted with three graduate students to check the clarity of the expression for every interview question and revise potentially confusing phrasing. Validity and trustworthiness were also achieved through the use of asking follow-up questions. The transcripts of formal interviews were analysed using Atlas.ti 9. Qualitative themes were developed following open, selective, and axial coding procedures ( Corbin & Strauss, 1990 ). Finally, the relationships among themes and codes were identified, facilitating the research findings and discussions.

In order to prevent biases from affecting the findings of the study, series of procedures were undertaken following previous qualitative research. First, multiple quotations from respondents underlined the research findings which meant the respondents' true perspectives and expressions were represented. Moreover, the analyses were done independently and there was peer checking among the authors. There was also member checking where themes found were redirected to respondents for verification. In addition, external validation of the themes was done by asking other graduate students who share similar characteristics for comparability assessment to make the findings transferable.

4. Results and discussion

4.1. profile of respondents.

Respondents were purposively drawn from diverse backgrounds (including nationality, gender, and programs) to enrich the research findings. The sample includes graduate students who began dissertation writing in Taiwan during the COVID-19 pandemic period. The majority of the respondents are female and from South East Asia. Table 1 provides background information of these interviewees.

Background information of study respondents.

4.2. Internal factors

As Table 2 depicts, the themes ascertained from the data analysis were categorised according to internal and external factors which underpin the attribution theory ( Weiner, 2006 ). In consonance with previous studies, graduate students’ dissertation writing during the pandemic was influenced by internal factors (i.e., personal interest and religious background) and external considerations (i.e., career aspirations, society improvement, language issues, supervisor influence, COVID-19 publishable topics, data collection challenges). The analyses of each factor are presented below.

Major themes and codes emerging from the data.

The most salient internal factors affecting dissertation topic selection were (1) personal interest and (2) religious background. For personal interest, respondent 1 expressed:

The first thing is that [it] comes from my interest. I'm currently working on solo female traveller [s], which is the market I want to study. So, the priority comes from my personal preference and to learn about this market no matter the external situation. I also think that this is due to how I was brought up. My parent nurtured me that way, and I love to do things independently, especially when travelling.

This finding is in line with previous studies such as Keshavarz and Shekari (2020) ; I’Anson and Smith (2004) , who emphasised the relevance of personal interest in students' dissertation decision-making. Informed by the self-efficacy and attribution theories, we found that students who attribute their decision-making on dissertation writing to internal factors (i.e., personal interest) have relatively high self-efficacy levels. As argued by Bandura (1977) , efficacy expectation is “the conviction that one can successfully execute the behaviour required to produce the outcomes” (p. 193). Namely, self-efficacy is determined by an individual's capability and ability to execute decisions independently, devoid of any external considerations. Despite the uncertainties and challenging circumstances amidst COVID-19, students who believe their ability and research skills usually adhere to their original dissertation topics and directions.

Religious consideration is another conspicuous factor informing graduate students' dissertation journey during the COVID-19 pandemic. As respondent 7 mentioned:

Islam has become my way of life. I am a Muslim. It is my daily life, so I like to research this. I was born into this faith, and I am inclined to explore Halal food. I feel committed to contributing my research to my faith no matter outside circumstances. Maybe if I combine it with academic (research), it will be easier to understand and easier to do.

Although not much has been seen regarding religious considerations in students' dissertation topic selection in previous studies, this research reveals religious background as a significant internal factor. From a sociology perspective, religious orientation and affiliation could affect individual behaviour ( Costen et al., 2013 ; Lee & Robbins, 1998 ), and academic decision-making is not an exception. Religious backgrounds are inherent in the socialisation process and could affect how a person behaves or how they make a particular decision. This premise is further accentuated by Costen et al. (2013) , who argued that social connectedness affects college students' ability to adjust to new environments and situations. Social connectedness guides feelings, thoughts, and behaviour in many human endeavours ( Lee & Robbins, 1998 ). Social connectedness and upbringing underpin peoples' personality traits and behavioural patterns. Therefore, this study has extended existing literature on factors that affect graduate students' decision-making on dissertation writing from a religious perspective, which is traceable to an individual's socialisation process. In other words, during crises, most students are inclined to make decisions on their dissertation writing which are informed by their social upbringing (socialisation).

4.3. External factors

As Table 2 indicates, abundant external factors inform graduate students’ decision-making on their dissertation writing process. Except for career aspirations, language concerns, and supervisor influences that previous studies have recognized ( Chu, 2015 ; Jensen, 2013 ; Keshavarz & Shekari, 2020 ; Lee & Deale, 2016 ; Tuomaala et al., 2014 ), some novel factors were identified from the data, such as “COVID-19 publishable topic” and “online data collection restrictions”.

Unlike extant studies that have bemoaned the negative impacts of the COVID on education ( Qiu et al., 2020 ; Sato et al., 2021 ), the current study revealed that graduate students were eager to research on topics that were related to COVID-19 to reflect the changes of the tourism industry and trends.

Initially, overtourism [was] a problem in my country, and I want to write a dissertation about it. However, there is no tourism at my research site because of the COVID-19 pandemic. So, I had to change my topic to resilience because resilience is about overcoming a crisis. I had to discuss with my supervisor, and she suggested the way forward that I revise my topic to make it relevant and publishable due to the COVID-19 pandemic (respondent 8).

This response shows the unavoidable impacts of the COVID-19 on the research community. As Bausch et al. (2021) pointed out, tourism and hospitality scholars have to change their research directions because some forms of tourism such as overtourism and cruise tourism were temporarily unobservable amidst the pandemic. Thus, many pre-pandemic studies and forecast data were no longer relevant. However, the COVID-19 pandemic can bring some positive changes. Nowadays, the industry and academics shift their focus from pro-tourism to responsible tourism and conduct more research related to resilience. As Ting et al. (2021) suggested, “moving forward from the pandemic crisis, one of the leading roles of tourism scholars henceforth is to facilitate high-quality education and training to prepare future leaders and responsible tourism practitioners to contribute to responsible travel and tourism experiences.” (p. 6).

Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has significant ramifications upon the research methods in hospitality and tourism. As respondent 1 denoted,

Because of [the] COVID-19 pandemic, there were certain limitations like I cannot analyse interviewee's body language due to social distancing … some interruptions when we conduct online interviews due to unstable internet connectivity, which would ultimately affect the flow of the conversation.

The adjustments of research methods also bring frustrations and anxiety to students. For instance, respondent 3 expressed: “I became anxious that I won't be able to collect data because of social distancing, which was implemented in Taiwan.” The volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) feelings caused by the COVID-19 pandemic significantly influences students' mood, thinking and behaviour ( Hadar et al., 2020 ).

Apparently, during crises, graduate students' decision-making on their dissertation writing was precipitated by external considerations beyond their control. Based on self-efficacy and attribution theory, the fear that characterises crises affects students' self-efficacy level and eagerness to resort to external entities (e.g., supervisor influences or difficulties in collecting data) to assuage their predicament. In other words, some students may have a low self-efficacy level during the COVID-19 pandemic, which was triggered by the negative impacts of the crisis. Furthermore, scholars may need to notice that COVID-19 is likely to affect conclusions drawn on studies undertaken during this period due to over-reliance on online data collection.

5. Conclusions and implications

Although numerous studies have been conducted to understand the influences of the COVID-19 crisis on educational activities, none of them focuses on the graduate student's dissertation writing journey. Given the significant contributions dissertations may make to advancing tourism and hospitality knowledge, this study aims to fill the gap and uses attribution and self-efficacy theories to explore how internal and external factors influenced graduate students' decision-making for dissertations amidst the crisis. Drawing on qualitative approaches with graduate students who began writing their dissertation during the COVID-19 period, the study provides insights into students' learning experiences and informs stakeholders in hospitality and tourism education to make better policies.

There are several findings worthy of discussion. Firstly, graduate students' sociological background (i.e., personal interest and religious background), which is inherent in an individual's socialisation processes, inform their decision-making in the dissertation processes during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is in line with the self-efficacy theory, which argues that an individual has the conviction that they have the necessary innate abilities to execute an outcome ( Bandura, 1977 ). Namely, respondents with high self-efficacy levels attributed their decisions to internal factors. Unlike previous studies' findings that personal interest was a factor that underpinned graduate students' decision-making ( I'Anson & Smith, 2004 ; Keshavarz & Shekari, 2020 ), it is observed that religious background is an additional factor that was evident and conspicuous during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Secondly, the complexity and uncertainty that characterised the COVID-19 pandemic made emotion a dominant factor that affected graduate students’ dissertation journey and indirectly triggered other external factors that provoked behavioural adjustments among students. The trepidation and anxiety that COVID-19 has caused significantly affects the self-efficacy level of students and predisposes them to external considerations, such as the will of the supervisor or the difficulties in data collection, in their dissertation journey. This study paralleled previous research and revealed that respondents with low self-efficacy were influenced by external considerations more than individuals with high self-efficacy ( Bandura, 1977 ). However, this study highlights how a public health crisis accelerates students who have low self-efficacy to attribute their unsatisfactory academic life to the external environment, leading to depression and negative impacts on ideology ( Abood et al., 2020 ).

Lastly, the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically influenced the direction of research and body of knowledge in tourism and hospitality. This is seen in the light of the influx of COVID-19 related research topics adapted by graduate students. Furthermore, over-reliance on online data collection approaches were observed in this research. Although online surveys and interviews have many advantages, such as low cost and no geographic restrictions, the results drawn from this approach frequently suffer from biased data and issues with reliability and validity. For example, Moss (2020) revealed that survey respondents from Amazon MTurk are mostly financially disadvantaged, significantly younger than the U.S. population, and predominantly female. As more and more students collect data from online survey platforms such as Amazon MTurk, dissertation advisors may need to question the representativeness of the study respondents in their students’ dissertation and the conclusions they make based on this population.

5.1. Theoretical implications and future study suggestions

This paper has extended the attribution and self-efficacy theories by revealing that a public health crisis moderates attributive factors that underpinned the decision-making of individuals. The integration of self-efficacy theory and attributive theory has proven to better unravel the behaviour of graduate students during the COVID-19 pandemic than solely utilizing one of them. The application and extension of the self-efficacy and attribution theories are rarely observed in the context of hospitality and tourism education, and thus, this study creates the foundation for future scholars to understand students’ attitudes and behaviour in our field.

The findings highlight some factors triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic and have not been identified previously. For example, the religious background was a significant driver to selecting a particular research topic. This research also shows a shift in research direction to hot and publishable issues related to COVID-19. The utility of the dissertation becomes a significant consideration among graduate students. Additionally, emotion is recognized as another critical factor affecting the dissertation writing journey. The current study informs academia and the research community on the extent to which the COVID-19 would influence idea generation and the direction of research in the foreseeable future, as extant studies have overlooked this vital connection. Future studies should consider those factors when investigating relevant behaviours and experiences.

The time that the current study was done is likely to affect the findings. Therefore, it is recommended that future research explore graduate students’ dissertation journey in the post-COVID-19 era to ascertain whether there will be similarities or differences. This would help to give a comprehensive picture of the impacts of the COVID-19 on education. Moreover, the findings of this study cannot be generalised as it was undertaken at a particular Taiwanese institution. We recommend that quantitative research with larger samples could be conducted to facilitate the generalisation of the findings. Finally, it is suggested that a meta-analysis or systematic literature review on articles written on the COVID-19 pandemic and education could be done to further identify more influential factors related to the public health crisis and educational activities.

5.2. Practical implications for hospitality and tourism education

The findings revealed that negative emotion might trigger students' attribution to external factors that affected the dissertation journey. Thus, relevant stakeholders should develop strategies and innovate ways to ease the fears and anxieties of the COVID-19 pandemic. This study calls for immediate actions to prevent spillover effects on upcoming students. Faculty members, staff, and teachers should be trained on soft skills such as empathy, flexibility, and conflict solutions required by the hospitality and tourism industry.

Moreover, the thesis supervisors should notice students' over-reliance on online data collection due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As it may possibly affect the quality and findings of their students' dissertations, there should be sound and logical justification for this decision. Collecting data online should be backed by the appropriateness of the method and the research problem under study instead of the convenience of obtaining such data. There is an urgent need for students to be guided for innovative data collection methods. The school can turn the COVID-19 crisis into an opportunity to improve the online teaching materials and equipment. The research programs may consider including more teaching hours on online research design or data collection procedures to bring positive discussions on the strengths of such approaches.

Credit author statement

Emmanuel Kwame Opoku: Conceptualization, Methodology, Formal analysis, Writing - Original Draft, Writing - Review & Editing, Project administration. Li-Hsin Chen: Conceptualization, Supervision, Review, Editing, Response to reviewers. Sam Yuan Permadi: Investigation, Visualization, Project administration.

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  • Research article
  • Open access
  • Published: 04 June 2021

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic: an overview of systematic reviews

  • Israel Júnior Borges do Nascimento 1 , 2 ,
  • Dónal P. O’Mathúna 3 , 4 ,
  • Thilo Caspar von Groote 5 ,
  • Hebatullah Mohamed Abdulazeem 6 ,
  • Ishanka Weerasekara 7 , 8 ,
  • Ana Marusic 9 ,
  • Livia Puljak   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-8467-6061 10 ,
  • Vinicius Tassoni Civile 11 ,
  • Irena Zakarija-Grkovic 9 ,
  • Tina Poklepovic Pericic 9 ,
  • Alvaro Nagib Atallah 11 ,
  • Santino Filoso 12 ,
  • Nicola Luigi Bragazzi 13 &
  • Milena Soriano Marcolino 1

On behalf of the International Network of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (InterNetCOVID-19)

BMC Infectious Diseases volume  21 , Article number:  525 ( 2021 ) Cite this article

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Navigating the rapidly growing body of scientific literature on the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic is challenging, and ongoing critical appraisal of this output is essential. We aimed to summarize and critically appraise systematic reviews of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in humans that were available at the beginning of the pandemic.

Nine databases (Medline, EMBASE, Cochrane Library, CINAHL, Web of Sciences, PDQ-Evidence, WHO’s Global Research, LILACS, and Epistemonikos) were searched from December 1, 2019, to March 24, 2020. Systematic reviews analyzing primary studies of COVID-19 were included. Two authors independently undertook screening, selection, extraction (data on clinical symptoms, prevalence, pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions, diagnostic test assessment, laboratory, and radiological findings), and quality assessment (AMSTAR 2). A meta-analysis was performed of the prevalence of clinical outcomes.

Eighteen systematic reviews were included; one was empty (did not identify any relevant study). Using AMSTAR 2, confidence in the results of all 18 reviews was rated as “critically low”. Identified symptoms of COVID-19 were (range values of point estimates): fever (82–95%), cough with or without sputum (58–72%), dyspnea (26–59%), myalgia or muscle fatigue (29–51%), sore throat (10–13%), headache (8–12%) and gastrointestinal complaints (5–9%). Severe symptoms were more common in men. Elevated C-reactive protein and lactate dehydrogenase, and slightly elevated aspartate and alanine aminotransferase, were commonly described. Thrombocytopenia and elevated levels of procalcitonin and cardiac troponin I were associated with severe disease. A frequent finding on chest imaging was uni- or bilateral multilobar ground-glass opacity. A single review investigated the impact of medication (chloroquine) but found no verifiable clinical data. All-cause mortality ranged from 0.3 to 13.9%.


In this overview of systematic reviews, we analyzed evidence from the first 18 systematic reviews that were published after the emergence of COVID-19. However, confidence in the results of all reviews was “critically low”. Thus, systematic reviews that were published early on in the pandemic were of questionable usefulness. Even during public health emergencies, studies and systematic reviews should adhere to established methodological standards.

Peer Review reports

The spread of the “Severe Acute Respiratory Coronavirus 2” (SARS-CoV-2), the causal agent of COVID-19, was characterized as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) in March 2020 and has triggered an international public health emergency [ 1 ]. The numbers of confirmed cases and deaths due to COVID-19 are rapidly escalating, counting in millions [ 2 ], causing massive economic strain, and escalating healthcare and public health expenses [ 3 , 4 ].

The research community has responded by publishing an impressive number of scientific reports related to COVID-19. The world was alerted to the new disease at the beginning of 2020 [ 1 ], and by mid-March 2020, more than 2000 articles had been published on COVID-19 in scholarly journals, with 25% of them containing original data [ 5 ]. The living map of COVID-19 evidence, curated by the Evidence for Policy and Practice Information and Co-ordinating Centre (EPPI-Centre), contained more than 40,000 records by February 2021 [ 6 ]. More than 100,000 records on PubMed were labeled as “SARS-CoV-2 literature, sequence, and clinical content” by February 2021 [ 7 ].

Due to publication speed, the research community has voiced concerns regarding the quality and reproducibility of evidence produced during the COVID-19 pandemic, warning of the potential damaging approach of “publish first, retract later” [ 8 ]. It appears that these concerns are not unfounded, as it has been reported that COVID-19 articles were overrepresented in the pool of retracted articles in 2020 [ 9 ]. These concerns about inadequate evidence are of major importance because they can lead to poor clinical practice and inappropriate policies [ 10 ].

Systematic reviews are a cornerstone of today’s evidence-informed decision-making. By synthesizing all relevant evidence regarding a particular topic, systematic reviews reflect the current scientific knowledge. Systematic reviews are considered to be at the highest level in the hierarchy of evidence and should be used to make informed decisions. However, with high numbers of systematic reviews of different scope and methodological quality being published, overviews of multiple systematic reviews that assess their methodological quality are essential [ 11 , 12 , 13 ]. An overview of systematic reviews helps identify and organize the literature and highlights areas of priority in decision-making.

In this overview of systematic reviews, we aimed to summarize and critically appraise systematic reviews of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in humans that were available at the beginning of the pandemic.


Research question.

This overview’s primary objective was to summarize and critically appraise systematic reviews that assessed any type of primary clinical data from patients infected with SARS-CoV-2. Our research question was purposefully broad because we wanted to analyze as many systematic reviews as possible that were available early following the COVID-19 outbreak.

Study design

We conducted an overview of systematic reviews. The idea for this overview originated in a protocol for a systematic review submitted to PROSPERO (CRD42020170623), which indicated a plan to conduct an overview.

Overviews of systematic reviews use explicit and systematic methods for searching and identifying multiple systematic reviews addressing related research questions in the same field to extract and analyze evidence across important outcomes. Overviews of systematic reviews are in principle similar to systematic reviews of interventions, but the unit of analysis is a systematic review [ 14 , 15 , 16 ].

We used the overview methodology instead of other evidence synthesis methods to allow us to collate and appraise multiple systematic reviews on this topic, and to extract and analyze their results across relevant topics [ 17 ]. The overview and meta-analysis of systematic reviews allowed us to investigate the methodological quality of included studies, summarize results, and identify specific areas of available or limited evidence, thereby strengthening the current understanding of this novel disease and guiding future research [ 13 ].

A reporting guideline for overviews of reviews is currently under development, i.e., Preferred Reporting Items for Overviews of Reviews (PRIOR) [ 18 ]. As the PRIOR checklist is still not published, this study was reported following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) 2009 statement [ 19 ]. The methodology used in this review was adapted from the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions and also followed established methodological considerations for analyzing existing systematic reviews [ 14 ].

Approval of a research ethics committee was not necessary as the study analyzed only publicly available articles.

Eligibility criteria

Systematic reviews were included if they analyzed primary data from patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 as confirmed by RT-PCR or another pre-specified diagnostic technique. Eligible reviews covered all topics related to COVID-19 including, but not limited to, those that reported clinical symptoms, diagnostic methods, therapeutic interventions, laboratory findings, or radiological results. Both full manuscripts and abbreviated versions, such as letters, were eligible.

No restrictions were imposed on the design of the primary studies included within the systematic reviews, the last search date, whether the review included meta-analyses or language. Reviews related to SARS-CoV-2 and other coronaviruses were eligible, but from those reviews, we analyzed only data related to SARS-CoV-2.

No consensus definition exists for a systematic review [ 20 ], and debates continue about the defining characteristics of a systematic review [ 21 ]. Cochrane’s guidance for overviews of reviews recommends setting pre-established criteria for making decisions around inclusion [ 14 ]. That is supported by a recent scoping review about guidance for overviews of systematic reviews [ 22 ].

Thus, for this study, we defined a systematic review as a research report which searched for primary research studies on a specific topic using an explicit search strategy, had a detailed description of the methods with explicit inclusion criteria provided, and provided a summary of the included studies either in narrative or quantitative format (such as a meta-analysis). Cochrane and non-Cochrane systematic reviews were considered eligible for inclusion, with or without meta-analysis, and regardless of the study design, language restriction and methodology of the included primary studies. To be eligible for inclusion, reviews had to be clearly analyzing data related to SARS-CoV-2 (associated or not with other viruses). We excluded narrative reviews without those characteristics as these are less likely to be replicable and are more prone to bias.

Scoping reviews and rapid reviews were eligible for inclusion in this overview if they met our pre-defined inclusion criteria noted above. We included reviews that addressed SARS-CoV-2 and other coronaviruses if they reported separate data regarding SARS-CoV-2.

Information sources

Nine databases were searched for eligible records published between December 1, 2019, and March 24, 2020: Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews via Cochrane Library, PubMed, EMBASE, CINAHL (Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature), Web of Sciences, LILACS (Latin American and Caribbean Health Sciences Literature), PDQ-Evidence, WHO’s Global Research on Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), and Epistemonikos.

The comprehensive search strategy for each database is provided in Additional file 1 and was designed and conducted in collaboration with an information specialist. All retrieved records were primarily processed in EndNote, where duplicates were removed, and records were then imported into the Covidence platform [ 23 ]. In addition to database searches, we screened reference lists of reviews included after screening records retrieved via databases.

Study selection

All searches, screening of titles and abstracts, and record selection, were performed independently by two investigators using the Covidence platform [ 23 ]. Articles deemed potentially eligible were retrieved for full-text screening carried out independently by two investigators. Discrepancies at all stages were resolved by consensus. During the screening, records published in languages other than English were translated by a native/fluent speaker.

Data collection process

We custom designed a data extraction table for this study, which was piloted by two authors independently. Data extraction was performed independently by two authors. Conflicts were resolved by consensus or by consulting a third researcher.

We extracted the following data: article identification data (authors’ name and journal of publication), search period, number of databases searched, population or settings considered, main results and outcomes observed, and number of participants. From Web of Science (Clarivate Analytics, Philadelphia, PA, USA), we extracted journal rank (quartile) and Journal Impact Factor (JIF).

We categorized the following as primary outcomes: all-cause mortality, need for and length of mechanical ventilation, length of hospitalization (in days), admission to intensive care unit (yes/no), and length of stay in the intensive care unit.

The following outcomes were categorized as exploratory: diagnostic methods used for detection of the virus, male to female ratio, clinical symptoms, pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions, laboratory findings (full blood count, liver enzymes, C-reactive protein, d-dimer, albumin, lipid profile, serum electrolytes, blood vitamin levels, glucose levels, and any other important biomarkers), and radiological findings (using radiography, computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging or ultrasound).

We also collected data on reporting guidelines and requirements for the publication of systematic reviews and meta-analyses from journal websites where included reviews were published.

Quality assessment in individual reviews

Two researchers independently assessed the reviews’ quality using the “A MeaSurement Tool to Assess Systematic Reviews 2 (AMSTAR 2)”. We acknowledge that the AMSTAR 2 was created as “a critical appraisal tool for systematic reviews that include randomized or non-randomized studies of healthcare interventions, or both” [ 24 ]. However, since AMSTAR 2 was designed for systematic reviews of intervention trials, and we included additional types of systematic reviews, we adjusted some AMSTAR 2 ratings and reported these in Additional file 2 .

Adherence to each item was rated as follows: yes, partial yes, no, or not applicable (such as when a meta-analysis was not conducted). The overall confidence in the results of the review is rated as “critically low”, “low”, “moderate” or “high”, according to the AMSTAR 2 guidance based on seven critical domains, which are items 2, 4, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15 as defined by AMSTAR 2 authors [ 24 ]. We reported our adherence ratings for transparency of our decision with accompanying explanations, for each item, in each included review.

One of the included systematic reviews was conducted by some members of this author team [ 25 ]. This review was initially assessed independently by two authors who were not co-authors of that review to prevent the risk of bias in assessing this study.

Synthesis of results

For data synthesis, we prepared a table summarizing each systematic review. Graphs illustrating the mortality rate and clinical symptoms were created. We then prepared a narrative summary of the methods, findings, study strengths, and limitations.

For analysis of the prevalence of clinical outcomes, we extracted data on the number of events and the total number of patients to perform proportional meta-analysis using RStudio© software, with the “meta” package (version 4.9–6), using the “metaprop” function for reviews that did not perform a meta-analysis, excluding case studies because of the absence of variance. For reviews that did not perform a meta-analysis, we presented pooled results of proportions with their respective confidence intervals (95%) by the inverse variance method with a random-effects model, using the DerSimonian-Laird estimator for τ 2 . We adjusted data using Freeman-Tukey double arcosen transformation. Confidence intervals were calculated using the Clopper-Pearson method for individual studies. We created forest plots using the RStudio© software, with the “metafor” package (version 2.1–0) and “forest” function.

Managing overlapping systematic reviews

Some of the included systematic reviews that address the same or similar research questions may include the same primary studies in overviews. Including such overlapping reviews may introduce bias when outcome data from the same primary study are included in the analyses of an overview multiple times. Thus, in summaries of evidence, multiple-counting of the same outcome data will give data from some primary studies too much influence [ 14 ]. In this overview, we did not exclude overlapping systematic reviews because, according to Cochrane’s guidance, it may be appropriate to include all relevant reviews’ results if the purpose of the overview is to present and describe the current body of evidence on a topic [ 14 ]. To avoid any bias in summary estimates associated with overlapping reviews, we generated forest plots showing data from individual systematic reviews, but the results were not pooled because some primary studies were included in multiple reviews.

Our search retrieved 1063 publications, of which 175 were duplicates. Most publications were excluded after the title and abstract analysis ( n = 860). Among the 28 studies selected for full-text screening, 10 were excluded for the reasons described in Additional file 3 , and 18 were included in the final analysis (Fig. 1 ) [ 25 , 26 , 27 , 28 , 29 , 30 , 31 , 32 , 33 , 34 , 35 , 36 , 37 , 38 , 39 , 40 , 41 , 42 ]. Reference list screening did not retrieve any additional systematic reviews.

figure 1

PRISMA flow diagram

Characteristics of included reviews

Summary features of 18 systematic reviews are presented in Table 1 . They were published in 14 different journals. Only four of these journals had specific requirements for systematic reviews (with or without meta-analysis): European Journal of Internal Medicine, Journal of Clinical Medicine, Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Clinical Research in Cardiology . Two journals reported that they published only invited reviews ( Journal of Medical Virology and Clinica Chimica Acta ). Three systematic reviews in our study were published as letters; one was labeled as a scoping review and another as a rapid review (Table 2 ).

All reviews were published in English, in first quartile (Q1) journals, with JIF ranging from 1.692 to 6.062. One review was empty, meaning that its search did not identify any relevant studies; i.e., no primary studies were included [ 36 ]. The remaining 17 reviews included 269 unique studies; the majority ( N = 211; 78%) were included in only a single review included in our study (range: 1 to 12). Primary studies included in the reviews were published between December 2019 and March 18, 2020, and comprised case reports, case series, cohorts, and other observational studies. We found only one review that included randomized clinical trials [ 38 ]. In the included reviews, systematic literature searches were performed from 2019 (entire year) up to March 9, 2020. Ten systematic reviews included meta-analyses. The list of primary studies found in the included systematic reviews is shown in Additional file 4 , as well as the number of reviews in which each primary study was included.

Population and study designs

Most of the reviews analyzed data from patients with COVID-19 who developed pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), or any other correlated complication. One review aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of using surgical masks on preventing transmission of the virus [ 36 ], one review was focused on pediatric patients [ 34 ], and one review investigated COVID-19 in pregnant women [ 37 ]. Most reviews assessed clinical symptoms, laboratory findings, or radiological results.

Systematic review findings

The summary of findings from individual reviews is shown in Table 2 . Overall, all-cause mortality ranged from 0.3 to 13.9% (Fig. 2 ).

figure 2

A meta-analysis of the prevalence of mortality

Clinical symptoms

Seven reviews described the main clinical manifestations of COVID-19 [ 26 , 28 , 29 , 34 , 35 , 39 , 41 ]. Three of them provided only a narrative discussion of symptoms [ 26 , 34 , 35 ]. In the reviews that performed a statistical analysis of the incidence of different clinical symptoms, symptoms in patients with COVID-19 were (range values of point estimates): fever (82–95%), cough with or without sputum (58–72%), dyspnea (26–59%), myalgia or muscle fatigue (29–51%), sore throat (10–13%), headache (8–12%), gastrointestinal disorders, such as diarrhea, nausea or vomiting (5.0–9.0%), and others (including, in one study only: dizziness 12.1%) (Figs. 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 , 8 and 9 ). Three reviews assessed cough with and without sputum together; only one review assessed sputum production itself (28.5%).

figure 3

A meta-analysis of the prevalence of fever

figure 4

A meta-analysis of the prevalence of cough

figure 5

A meta-analysis of the prevalence of dyspnea

figure 6

A meta-analysis of the prevalence of fatigue or myalgia

figure 7

A meta-analysis of the prevalence of headache

figure 8

A meta-analysis of the prevalence of gastrointestinal disorders

figure 9

A meta-analysis of the prevalence of sore throat

Diagnostic aspects

Three reviews described methodologies, protocols, and tools used for establishing the diagnosis of COVID-19 [ 26 , 34 , 38 ]. The use of respiratory swabs (nasal or pharyngeal) or blood specimens to assess the presence of SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid using RT-PCR assays was the most commonly used diagnostic method mentioned in the included studies. These diagnostic tests have been widely used, but their precise sensitivity and specificity remain unknown. One review included a Chinese study with clinical diagnosis with no confirmation of SARS-CoV-2 infection (patients were diagnosed with COVID-19 if they presented with at least two symptoms suggestive of COVID-19, together with laboratory and chest radiography abnormalities) [ 34 ].

Therapeutic possibilities

Pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions (supportive therapies) used in treating patients with COVID-19 were reported in five reviews [ 25 , 27 , 34 , 35 , 38 ]. Antivirals used empirically for COVID-19 treatment were reported in seven reviews [ 25 , 27 , 34 , 35 , 37 , 38 , 41 ]; most commonly used were protease inhibitors (lopinavir, ritonavir, darunavir), nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (tenofovir), nucleotide analogs (remdesivir, galidesivir, ganciclovir), and neuraminidase inhibitors (oseltamivir). Umifenovir, a membrane fusion inhibitor, was investigated in two studies [ 25 , 35 ]. Possible supportive interventions analyzed were different types of oxygen supplementation and breathing support (invasive or non-invasive ventilation) [ 25 ]. The use of antibiotics, both empirically and to treat secondary pneumonia, was reported in six studies [ 25 , 26 , 27 , 34 , 35 , 38 ]. One review specifically assessed evidence on the efficacy and safety of the anti-malaria drug chloroquine [ 27 ]. It identified 23 ongoing trials investigating the potential of chloroquine as a therapeutic option for COVID-19, but no verifiable clinical outcomes data. The use of mesenchymal stem cells, antifungals, and glucocorticoids were described in four reviews [ 25 , 34 , 35 , 38 ].

Laboratory and radiological findings

Of the 18 reviews included in this overview, eight analyzed laboratory parameters in patients with COVID-19 [ 25 , 29 , 30 , 32 , 33 , 34 , 35 , 39 ]; elevated C-reactive protein levels, associated with lymphocytopenia, elevated lactate dehydrogenase, as well as slightly elevated aspartate and alanine aminotransferase (AST, ALT) were commonly described in those eight reviews. Lippi et al. assessed cardiac troponin I (cTnI) [ 25 ], procalcitonin [ 32 ], and platelet count [ 33 ] in COVID-19 patients. Elevated levels of procalcitonin [ 32 ] and cTnI [ 30 ] were more likely to be associated with a severe disease course (requiring intensive care unit admission and intubation). Furthermore, thrombocytopenia was frequently observed in patients with complicated COVID-19 infections [ 33 ].

Chest imaging (chest radiography and/or computed tomography) features were assessed in six reviews, all of which described a frequent pattern of local or bilateral multilobar ground-glass opacity [ 25 , 34 , 35 , 39 , 40 , 41 ]. Those six reviews showed that septal thickening, bronchiectasis, pleural and cardiac effusions, halo signs, and pneumothorax were observed in patients suffering from COVID-19.

Quality of evidence in individual systematic reviews

Table 3 shows the detailed results of the quality assessment of 18 systematic reviews, including the assessment of individual items and summary assessment. A detailed explanation for each decision in each review is available in Additional file 5 .

Using AMSTAR 2 criteria, confidence in the results of all 18 reviews was rated as “critically low” (Table 3 ). Common methodological drawbacks were: omission of prospective protocol submission or publication; use of inappropriate search strategy: lack of independent and dual literature screening and data-extraction (or methodology unclear); absence of an explanation for heterogeneity among the studies included; lack of reasons for study exclusion (or rationale unclear).

Risk of bias assessment, based on a reported methodological tool, and quality of evidence appraisal, in line with the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation (GRADE) method, were reported only in one review [ 25 ]. Five reviews presented a table summarizing bias, using various risk of bias tools [ 25 , 29 , 39 , 40 , 41 ]. One review analyzed “study quality” [ 37 ]. One review mentioned the risk of bias assessment in the methodology but did not provide any related analysis [ 28 ].

This overview of systematic reviews analyzed the first 18 systematic reviews published after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, up to March 24, 2020, with primary studies involving more than 60,000 patients. Using AMSTAR-2, we judged that our confidence in all those reviews was “critically low”. Ten reviews included meta-analyses. The reviews presented data on clinical manifestations, laboratory and radiological findings, and interventions. We found no systematic reviews on the utility of diagnostic tests.

Symptoms were reported in seven reviews; most of the patients had a fever, cough, dyspnea, myalgia or muscle fatigue, and gastrointestinal disorders such as diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting. Olfactory dysfunction (anosmia or dysosmia) has been described in patients infected with COVID-19 [ 43 ]; however, this was not reported in any of the reviews included in this overview. During the SARS outbreak in 2002, there were reports of impairment of the sense of smell associated with the disease [ 44 , 45 ].

The reported mortality rates ranged from 0.3 to 14% in the included reviews. Mortality estimates are influenced by the transmissibility rate (basic reproduction number), availability of diagnostic tools, notification policies, asymptomatic presentations of the disease, resources for disease prevention and control, and treatment facilities; variability in the mortality rate fits the pattern of emerging infectious diseases [ 46 ]. Furthermore, the reported cases did not consider asymptomatic cases, mild cases where individuals have not sought medical treatment, and the fact that many countries had limited access to diagnostic tests or have implemented testing policies later than the others. Considering the lack of reviews assessing diagnostic testing (sensitivity, specificity, and predictive values of RT-PCT or immunoglobulin tests), and the preponderance of studies that assessed only symptomatic individuals, considerable imprecision around the calculated mortality rates existed in the early stage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Few reviews included treatment data. Those reviews described studies considered to be at a very low level of evidence: usually small, retrospective studies with very heterogeneous populations. Seven reviews analyzed laboratory parameters; those reviews could have been useful for clinicians who attend patients suspected of COVID-19 in emergency services worldwide, such as assessing which patients need to be reassessed more frequently.

All systematic reviews scored poorly on the AMSTAR 2 critical appraisal tool for systematic reviews. Most of the original studies included in the reviews were case series and case reports, impacting the quality of evidence. Such evidence has major implications for clinical practice and the use of these reviews in evidence-based practice and policy. Clinicians, patients, and policymakers can only have the highest confidence in systematic review findings if high-quality systematic review methodologies are employed. The urgent need for information during a pandemic does not justify poor quality reporting.

We acknowledge that there are numerous challenges associated with analyzing COVID-19 data during a pandemic [ 47 ]. High-quality evidence syntheses are needed for decision-making, but each type of evidence syntheses is associated with its inherent challenges.

The creation of classic systematic reviews requires considerable time and effort; with massive research output, they quickly become outdated, and preparing updated versions also requires considerable time. A recent study showed that updates of non-Cochrane systematic reviews are published a median of 5 years after the publication of the previous version [ 48 ].

Authors may register a review and then abandon it [ 49 ], but the existence of a public record that is not updated may lead other authors to believe that the review is still ongoing. A quarter of Cochrane review protocols remains unpublished as completed systematic reviews 8 years after protocol publication [ 50 ].

Rapid reviews can be used to summarize the evidence, but they involve methodological sacrifices and simplifications to produce information promptly, with inconsistent methodological approaches [ 51 ]. However, rapid reviews are justified in times of public health emergencies, and even Cochrane has resorted to publishing rapid reviews in response to the COVID-19 crisis [ 52 ]. Rapid reviews were eligible for inclusion in this overview, but only one of the 18 reviews included in this study was labeled as a rapid review.

Ideally, COVID-19 evidence would be continually summarized in a series of high-quality living systematic reviews, types of evidence synthesis defined as “ a systematic review which is continually updated, incorporating relevant new evidence as it becomes available ” [ 53 ]. However, conducting living systematic reviews requires considerable resources, calling into question the sustainability of such evidence synthesis over long periods [ 54 ].

Research reports about COVID-19 will contribute to research waste if they are poorly designed, poorly reported, or simply not necessary. In principle, systematic reviews should help reduce research waste as they usually provide recommendations for further research that is needed or may advise that sufficient evidence exists on a particular topic [ 55 ]. However, systematic reviews can also contribute to growing research waste when they are not needed, or poorly conducted and reported. Our present study clearly shows that most of the systematic reviews that were published early on in the COVID-19 pandemic could be categorized as research waste, as our confidence in their results is critically low.

Our study has some limitations. One is that for AMSTAR 2 assessment we relied on information available in publications; we did not attempt to contact study authors for clarifications or additional data. In three reviews, the methodological quality appraisal was challenging because they were published as letters, or labeled as rapid communications. As a result, various details about their review process were not included, leading to AMSTAR 2 questions being answered as “not reported”, resulting in low confidence scores. Full manuscripts might have provided additional information that could have led to higher confidence in the results. In other words, low scores could reflect incomplete reporting, not necessarily low-quality review methods. To make their review available more rapidly and more concisely, the authors may have omitted methodological details. A general issue during a crisis is that speed and completeness must be balanced. However, maintaining high standards requires proper resourcing and commitment to ensure that the users of systematic reviews can have high confidence in the results.

Furthermore, we used adjusted AMSTAR 2 scoring, as the tool was designed for critical appraisal of reviews of interventions. Some reviews may have received lower scores than actually warranted in spite of these adjustments.

Another limitation of our study may be the inclusion of multiple overlapping reviews, as some included reviews included the same primary studies. According to the Cochrane Handbook, including overlapping reviews may be appropriate when the review’s aim is “ to present and describe the current body of systematic review evidence on a topic ” [ 12 ], which was our aim. To avoid bias with summarizing evidence from overlapping reviews, we presented the forest plots without summary estimates. The forest plots serve to inform readers about the effect sizes for outcomes that were reported in each review.

Several authors from this study have contributed to one of the reviews identified [ 25 ]. To reduce the risk of any bias, two authors who did not co-author the review in question initially assessed its quality and limitations.

Finally, we note that the systematic reviews included in our overview may have had issues that our analysis did not identify because we did not analyze their primary studies to verify the accuracy of the data and information they presented. We give two examples to substantiate this possibility. Lovato et al. wrote a commentary on the review of Sun et al. [ 41 ], in which they criticized the authors’ conclusion that sore throat is rare in COVID-19 patients [ 56 ]. Lovato et al. highlighted that multiple studies included in Sun et al. did not accurately describe participants’ clinical presentations, warning that only three studies clearly reported data on sore throat [ 56 ].

In another example, Leung [ 57 ] warned about the review of Li, L.Q. et al. [ 29 ]: “ it is possible that this statistic was computed using overlapped samples, therefore some patients were double counted ”. Li et al. responded to Leung that it is uncertain whether the data overlapped, as they used data from published articles and did not have access to the original data; they also reported that they requested original data and that they plan to re-do their analyses once they receive them; they also urged readers to treat the data with caution [ 58 ]. This points to the evolving nature of evidence during a crisis.

Our study’s strength is that this overview adds to the current knowledge by providing a comprehensive summary of all the evidence synthesis about COVID-19 available early after the onset of the pandemic. This overview followed strict methodological criteria, including a comprehensive and sensitive search strategy and a standard tool for methodological appraisal of systematic reviews.

In conclusion, in this overview of systematic reviews, we analyzed evidence from the first 18 systematic reviews that were published after the emergence of COVID-19. However, confidence in the results of all the reviews was “critically low”. Thus, systematic reviews that were published early on in the pandemic could be categorized as research waste. Even during public health emergencies, studies and systematic reviews should adhere to established methodological standards to provide patients, clinicians, and decision-makers trustworthy evidence.

Availability of data and materials

All data collected and analyzed within this study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

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We thank Catherine Henderson DPhil from Swanscoe Communications for pro bono medical writing and editing support. We acknowledge support from the Covidence Team, specifically Anneliese Arno. We thank the whole International Network of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (InterNetCOVID-19) for their commitment and involvement. Members of the InterNetCOVID-19 are listed in Additional file 6 . We thank Pavel Cerny and Roger Crosthwaite for guiding the team supervisor (IJBN) on human resources management.

This research received no external funding.

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Israel Júnior Borges do Nascimento & Milena Soriano Marcolino

Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI, USA

Israel Júnior Borges do Nascimento

Helene Fuld Health Trust National Institute for Evidence-based Practice in Nursing and Healthcare, College of Nursing, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA

Dónal P. O’Mathúna

School of Nursing, Psychotherapy and Community Health, Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland

Department of Anesthesiology, Intensive Care and Pain Medicine, University of Münster, Münster, Germany

Thilo Caspar von Groote

Department of Sport and Health Science, Technische Universität München, Munich, Germany

Hebatullah Mohamed Abdulazeem

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Ishanka Weerasekara

Department of Physiotherapy, Faculty of Allied Health Sciences, University of Peradeniya, Peradeniya, Sri Lanka

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Ana Marusic, Irena Zakarija-Grkovic & Tina Poklepovic Pericic

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Livia Puljak

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IJBN conceived the research idea and worked as a project coordinator. DPOM, TCVG, HMA, IW, AM, LP, VTC, IZG, TPP, ANA, SF, NLB and MSM were involved in data curation, formal analysis, investigation, methodology, and initial draft writing. All authors revised the manuscript critically for the content. The author(s) read and approved the final manuscript.

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Supplementary Information

Additional file 1: appendix 1..

Search strategies used in the study.

Additional file 2: Appendix 2.

Adjusted scoring of AMSTAR 2 used in this study for systematic reviews of studies that did not analyze interventions.

Additional file 3: Appendix 3.

List of excluded studies, with reasons.

Additional file 4: Appendix 4.

Table of overlapping studies, containing the list of primary studies included, their visual overlap in individual systematic reviews, and the number in how many reviews each primary study was included.

Additional file 5: Appendix 5.

A detailed explanation of AMSTAR scoring for each item in each review.

Additional file 6: Appendix 6.

List of members and affiliates of International Network of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (InterNetCOVID-19).

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Borges do Nascimento, I.J., O’Mathúna, D.P., von Groote, T.C. et al. Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic: an overview of systematic reviews. BMC Infect Dis 21 , 525 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12879-021-06214-4

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Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19): The Impact and Role of Mass Media During the Pandemic

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The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has created a global health crisis that has had a deep impact on the way we perceive our world and our everyday lives. Not only the rate of contagion and patterns of transmission threatens our sense of agency, but the safety measures put in place to contain ...

Keywords : COVID-19, coronavirus disease, mass media, health communication, prevention, intervention, social behavioral changes

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COVID-19 Interdisciplinary Research Resources

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Dissertation Databases

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Content: National University & NCU student dissertations and literature reviews.

Purpose: Use for foundational research, to locate test instruments and data, and more. 

Special Features: Search by advisor (chair), degree, degree level, or department. Includes a read-aloud feature.

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Content: Global student dissertations and literature reviews.

Special Features: Search by advisor (chair), degree, degree level, or department. Includes a read-aloud feature

The ProQuest Dissertations & Theses database (PQDT) is the world's most comprehensive collection of dissertations and theses. It is the database of record for graduate research, with over 2.3 million dissertations and theses included from around the world.

Selected Northcentral University Dissertations

  • Advertising, Chaos Theory, and a Global Pandemic: A Qualitative Case Study of Micro and Small Businesses (MSBs) Strategic business tactics and conducting business are complicated by crisis for the micro and small business, especially a crisis like the coronavirus pandemic. The problem to be addressed by this study is the lack of advertising being conducted by owner/managers of micro and small businesses when faced with a global crisis. Author: Thain Yates Hagan, Northcentral University.
  • How Healthcare Administrators in South Carolina Conceive of and Plan to Maintain Productive Operations during a Pandemic This qualitative study explored how healthcare administrators and professionals conceive of productive operations and how their management styles and decisions affected the organization during a pandemic. Author: Constance Renee Lorick-Walker, Northcentral University.
  • Perceptions of High School Students Adaptability Challenges to Online Learning Due to Unforeseeable Circumstances Considering online learning is at its nascent stages especially in rural schools, it is not clear the various adaptability challenges that high school students face while transitioning from face-to-face learning to online learning due to the unforeseen emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic. The purpose of this narrative study was to explore through stories the adaptability challenges that 12th grade students face while transitioning from face-to-face learning to online learning in rural Mississippi. Author: Justin Watkins, Northcentral University.
  • A Qualitative Case Study of the Evolution of Community College Faculty during a Rapid Transition from Direct to eLearning Instruction during a Pandemic The purpose of this qualitative, descriptive single-case study was to explore community college faculty experiences with transition from direct to eLearning instruction and uses of a learning management system in the context of the rapid change process before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Author: Charlotte M. Applewhite, Northcentral University.
  • Strategies to Translate Curriculum from Face-to-Face Instruction to Online Learning: A Multiple-Case Study This study provided rich, detailed information regarding the perceptions of elementary teachers’ in a northern urban school district in Illinois converting the F2F curriculum to the online format during the COVID-19 pandemic. Author: Dolores Merriweather, Northcentral University.
  • Stress Levels and Work Performance among Employees during the COVID-19 Pandemic The purpose of the study was to explore the stress levels and work performance (motivation) from the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic among employees. A qualitative single case study research design was selected for this study. There were two phases for examining employees in this study, including an open-ended survey and a focus group interview. Author: Crystal Annette McGlover, Northcentral University.
  • Teachers’ Thriving, Job Satisfaction, and Burnout: A Polynomial Regression with Response Surface Analysis The purpose of this quantitative correlational research study was to determine how various combinations of the two components of thriving at work related to job satisfaction and burnout in teachers during the COVID–19 pandemic. Author: Joni Skiles Keith, Northcentral University.
  • The Technological, Pedagogical and Content Knowledge of Saudi English as a Foreign Language University Instructors and Their Perceptions of Online Teaching during COVID-19 The present mixed-method triangulation design study examined instructor perceptions of the effectiveness of the implementation of English as a foreign language online teaching in a higher education institution in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during COVID-19. Author: Fatima Mahmoud Basaffar, Northcentral University.
  • Technology Influences and Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Religious Practices: An Exploratory Case Study The problem addressed by the study was the ambiguity of understanding how intergenerational congregation members of a Baptist church with predominantly African American members perceived the influence of technology and the COVID-19 pandemic on religious practices. Author: Frances Charmaine English, Northcentral University.
  • Telehealth Services: The Effect that Pandemic Events Have on the Quality and Efficiency throughout the Healthcare Industry This study implied that the extended duration of the COVID-19 pandemic created an increased comfort level using telehealth that causes an increased use of telehealth after the COVID-19 pandemic ends. Author: Keith Joseph Pelletier, Northcentral University.
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  • Last Updated: Oct 31, 2023 7:56 PM
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Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19): A literature review


  • 1 Medical Research Unit, School of Medicine, Universitas Syiah Kuala, Banda Aceh, Indonesia; Tropical Disease Centre, School of Medicine, Universitas Syiah Kuala, Banda Aceh, Indonesia; Department of Microbiology, School of Medicine, Universitas Syiah Kuala, Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Electronic address: [email protected].
  • 2 Division of Infectious Diseases, AichiCancer Center Hospital, Chikusa-ku Nagoya, Japan. Electronic address: [email protected].
  • 3 Department of Family Medicine, School of Medicine, Universitas Syiah Kuala, Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Electronic address: [email protected].
  • 4 Department of Pulmonology and Respiratory Medicine, School of Medicine, Universitas Syiah Kuala, Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Electronic address: [email protected].
  • 5 School of Medicine, The University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia. Electronic address: [email protected].
  • 6 Siem Reap Provincial Health Department, Ministry of Health, Siem Reap, Cambodia. Electronic address: [email protected].
  • 7 Department of Microbiology and Parasitology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Warmadewa University, Denpasar, Indonesia; Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, University of California, Davis, CA, USA. Electronic address: [email protected].
  • 8 Medical Research Unit, School of Medicine, Universitas Syiah Kuala, Banda Aceh, Indonesia; Tropical Disease Centre, School of Medicine, Universitas Syiah Kuala, Banda Aceh, Indonesia; Department of Microbiology, School of Medicine, Universitas Syiah Kuala, Banda Aceh, Indonesia; Department of Clinical Microbiology, School of Medicine, Universitas Syiah Kuala, Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Electronic address: [email protected].
  • 9 Department of Epidemiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, MI 48109, USA. Electronic address: [email protected].
  • 10 Medical Research Unit, School of Medicine, Universitas Syiah Kuala, Banda Aceh, Indonesia; Tropical Disease Centre, School of Medicine, Universitas Syiah Kuala, Banda Aceh, Indonesia; Department of Microbiology, School of Medicine, Universitas Syiah Kuala, Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Electronic address: [email protected].
  • PMID: 32340833
  • PMCID: PMC7142680
  • DOI: 10.1016/j.jiph.2020.03.019

In early December 2019, an outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by a novel severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), occurred in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. On January 30, 2020 the World Health Organization declared the outbreak as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. As of February 14, 2020, 49,053 laboratory-confirmed and 1,381 deaths have been reported globally. Perceived risk of acquiring disease has led many governments to institute a variety of control measures. We conducted a literature review of publicly available information to summarize knowledge about the pathogen and the current epidemic. In this literature review, the causative agent, pathogenesis and immune responses, epidemiology, diagnosis, treatment and management of the disease, control and preventions strategies are all reviewed.

Keywords: 2019-nCoV; COVID-19; Novel coronavirus; Outbreak; SARS-CoV-2.

Copyright © 2020 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.

Publication types

  • Betacoronavirus
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Coronavirus Infections* / epidemiology
  • Coronavirus Infections* / immunology
  • Coronavirus Infections* / therapy
  • Coronavirus Infections* / virology
  • Disease Outbreaks* / prevention & control
  • Pneumonia, Viral* / epidemiology
  • Pneumonia, Viral* / immunology
  • Pneumonia, Viral* / therapy
  • Pneumonia, Viral* / virology

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COVID-19 research and writing

From the department of international relations, read the contributions from our faculty and students.

The non-discriminate nature of COVID-19, like any biological organism, underscores that the legal boundaries which demarcate states are social constructs that cannot compete against the forces of nature

Marnie Howlett

  • Associate Professor Dr Ulrich Sedelmeier co-authored an article on ‘ Issue framing, political identities, and public support for multilateral vaccine cooperation during Covid-19 ’ in the  European Journal of Political Research .
  • PhD candidate Asha Herten-Crabb , together with Dr Clare Wenham , has published a paper on women’s experiences in the UK during the first two waves of COVID. Read “I Was Facilitating Everybody Else’s Life. And Mine Had Just Ground to a Halt”: The COVID-19 Pandemic and its Impact on Women in the United Kingdom in Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State & Society .
  • PhD candidate  Asha Herten-Crabb  has co-authored an article which argues that Canada is well placed to take a leadership role in addressing the disproportionate and intersecting impacts of COVID-19 on women, gender diverse individuals and priority populations. Read  COVID-19 & feminist foreign policy: Canada’s comparative advantage  in  Canadian Foreign Policy Journal . 
  • PhD candidates  Irene Morlino  and  Katharina Kuhn  published a research note in  Swiss Political Science Review  comparing Germany's and Italy's COVID crisis responses. Read " Decentralisation in Times of Crisis: Asset Or Liability? The Case of Germany and Italy During COVID-19 ".
  • Yuna Han ,  Katharine M. Millar  and   Martin J. Bayly  have authored an article which argues that focusing on the individual and collective experiences of death, loss, and grief is key to understanding the politics arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. Read  COVID-19 as a Mass Death Event . 
  • PhD candidate  Frega F Wenas Inkiriwang  recently published an article in  The National Bureau of Asian Research  as part of the new normal series, about Indonesia's and ASEAN's defence diplomacy in adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic. Read  Recalibrating Indonesia’s Defense Diplomacy for the New Normal .
  • PhD candidate  Vuk Vuksanovic   contributed to an article on vaccine diplomacy with a focus on Serbia in particular in  PBS Online .
  • PhD candidate  Asha Herten-Crabb  co-authored  an article  in  LSE Public Policy Review  making the case for a gender adviser on the UK government’s COVID-19 Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (SAGE). This article was also cited in  The Guardian . She also co-authored an article on discussions around gender and leadership during COVID-19. Read  It's a distraction to focus on the success of individual women leaders during COVID .
  • PhD candidate  Vuk Vuksanovic  was cited in a VOA News article, speaking about China's vaccine diplomacy. Read  China’s Vaccine Sent to Developing Nations May Find Wary Reception . 
  • Professor  Jeffrey Chwieroth   has been awarded an LSE Support Fund for his research project 'What shapes public support for COVID-related economic policy interventions? An experimental approach' which will be led in collaboration with academic colleagues from the University of Essex and the University of Melbourne.
  • Dr  Tristen Naylor  reflects on the impact of moving the 2020 summit of the G20 online, and the future of digital diplomacy and international summits. Read  Diplomacy at a distance: COVID-19's impact on global statecraft .
  • Dr Ellen Holtmaat   has written  a blog post  on how public goodwill harnessed during the pandemic be leveraged to tackle the climate emergency.  
  • PhD candidate Asha Herten-Crabb has contributed to an article in  The Lancet  in December 2020 about COVID-19 vaccines and women's security .
  • PhD candidate Marnie Howlett has published a journal article which explores methodological and epistemological questions around conducting fieldwork remotely through reflections on conducting online research during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read  Looking at the ‘field’ through a Zoom lens: Methodological reflections on conducting online research during a global pandemic . 
  • PhD candidate, Frega Wenas Inkiriwang , was one of the key speakers in an online webinar organised by the Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) NTU, Singapore on the subject of "Assessing the Role of TNI in Combating Covid-19 in Indonesia".
  • Dr Sophie Rosenberg, LSE Fellow, recaps what Covid-19 means for human rights and the rule of law in the United States with a special focus on the unequal effects on minorities and women. Published as a chapter in the latest Bonavero Institute of Human Rights report on COVID-19. Read it here (Chapter 29) .
  • Dr Tristen Naylor has published a new paper in The Hague Journal of Diplomacy  examining the implications of summit diplomacy moving online in the COVID era. Read ' All That's Lost: The Hollowing of Summit Diplomacy in a Socially Distanced World '.
  • Marnie Howlett , PhD candidate, has co-authored a blog article in  Routed,  the migration and (im)mobility magazine. Read ' Why did/n’t they leave?: Understanding international postgraduate students’ (im)mobility during the COVID-19 pandemic '
  • Dr Martin J Bayly has written for the LSE COVID-19 blog on ' Fatalism and an absence of public grief: the 1918-19 flu pandemic '. In it he explains how British society attempted to deal with the pandemic, which went uncommemorated even though it killed almost a quarter of a million Britons - many young.
  • Dr Katharine M Millar , Dr Yuna Han , Dr Martin J Bayly , Katharina Kuhn and Irene Morlino , from our department, have published a report on the political implications of COVID-19 grief and mourning for social order. Their research reveals that the way COVID-19 is officially commemorated will shape our ability to respond to a second wave.   Read more about it here . Read the blog post Read the full report on ' Confronting the COVID-19 pandemic: grief, loss and social order '.
  • Dr Jostein Hauge , along with Goitom Gebreluel and Michael Woldemariam, has co-authored a research report on ' COVID-19 in the Horn of Africa: Political and Economic Impacts '. Read more here .
  • Dr  Katharine Millar 's new project: "The Challenge of Mass Deaths for Transnational Social Order: Experiencing COVID19" has been awarded a British Academy Small Research Grant.
  • Professor Peter Trubowitz wrote in an article for the LSE US Centre Blog arguing that as the extra $600 per week afforded by the CARE Act comes to an end, Trump’s poor rating on his COVID-19 response means he can't afford for Congress not to make a deal. Find out more:  Why Trump needs Congress to make a deal on the next COVID-19 stimulus package
  • PhD candidate Asha Herten-Crabb has co-authored " Women are most affected by pandemics — lessons from past outbreaks " for Nature . This commentary presents data showing the social and economic impacts of COVID-19 fall harder on women than on men. It argues that governments need to gather data and target policy to keep all citizens equally safe, sheltered and secure. 
  • MSc IR student Sarah Coolican has written an article for the department blog which asks if Norway’s ethical investing and political focus on public health and human security may reap rewards in the post-coronavirus world: " Is Norway a beacon of hope for the post-COVID-19 world order? "
  • Professor Chris Alden has co-authored an article on how new South African legislation on animal consumption could inadvertently increase the risk of COVID-19-like diseases and lead to an open season on endangered wildlife. Read the article in The Conversation .
  • PhD candidate Frega F Wenas Inkiriwang took part in a webinar on " Talking ASEAN - Regional Defence Cooperation amidst COVID-19: Challenges and Opportunities " organised by the Habibie Center. He also published an article in the Jakarta Post on COVID-19 and the Disruption of Defence Diplomacy .
  • Dr Theresa Squatrito  published " Could COVID-19 herald the renewal of international cooperation? " in the LSE COVID-19 blog.  
  • Dr Tristen Naylo r and Dr Katharine M Millar contributed to a report for the Parliament Office of Science and Technology on " International affairs and COVID-19: What are experts concerned about? ".
  • PhD candidate Marnie Howlett  wrote an article on the intersection between COVID-19, geo-politics, and nationalism. Read " States alone cannot compete against the forces of nature " on the LSE COVID-19 blog.
  • Atharva Deshmukh (MSc International Political Economy) contributed an article which discusses the impact of COVID-19 on energy transition in India, to Global Risk Insights . Read " India: Impact of COVID-19 on adoption of BS-VI norms ". 
  • Charles Dunst (MSc International Relations) published " How the coronavirus pandemic will push developing countries to delink their economies from China " in the South China Morning Post . 
  • PhD candidate Asha Herten-Crabb , along with other researchers from LSE and around the world, is taking part in the Gender and COVID-19 Research Project , which conducts real time gender analysis on impacts of the outbreak and response, identifies gender gaps, and provides guidance to decisionmakers.
  • Professor William A Callahan published " You can see China from here: the evolution of a border " in  The Diplomat .
  • Dr Mathias Koenig-Archibugi published " The social network of international aid " in  Social Science and Medicine .
  • Dr Mathias Koenig-Archibugi published " Complexity and Institutional Diversity in Global Health Governance: Implications for Asia '" (chapter in compliation).
  • Professor Chris Alden and Charles Dunst published a review of COVID-19 and the Global South: responses of regional organisations to this transnational challenge  on the Global South Unit website.
  • Dr Katharine Millar , Dr Yuna Han and Dr Martin Bayly 's project "The Challenge of mass deaths for social order" has been awarded LSE COVID-19 rapid response funding , which supports research to address global challenges caused by the pandemic.
  • Professor John Sidel published " What are the challenges faced by urban transport in the Global South ?" on the LSE COVID-19 blog.
  • PhD candidate Asha Herten-Crabb 's article " Travel restrictions and infectious disease outbreaks " was published and made 'editor's choice' in the Journal of Travel Medicine .
  • Dr Milli Lake co-authored " We must work hard to resist a fear of other people’s bodies " for the COVID-19 blog, which reminds us why it is important to remember the importance of physical touch, intimacy and connection to build community, practise resistance, heal from trauma and escape oppression.
  • PhD candidate David Han 's article " China-ASEAN Relations in the COVID-19 Pandemic: A cautionary tale for ASEAN centrality " was published in The Politburo.
  • Professor Mick Cox , along with Peter Watkins and Linda Yueh from LSE IDEAS wrote " Does globalisation face an existential threat? " in the LSE COVID-19 blog.

You can find a full llst of publications on COVID-19 from throughout LSE at the COVID-19 Resource Centre .

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Collecting Dissertation Data during COVID 19

  • Matthew J. Sroka Ed.D. Student at Salisbury University

This essay describes my personal experience as a doctoral candidate collecting data for my dissertation during the COVID-19 pandemic. After providing the context for my own study, I lay out three main ideas that emerged while collecting data. These main ideas involve including participants in the decision-making process, sharing one another’s challenging contexts to understand and connect, and the importance of teacher learning communities in times of isolation. My essay highlights some of the challenges and opportunities of collecting data during difficult circumstances and discusses the importance of professional learning communities to assist teachers with long-term coping within an unexpected context.

Author Biography

Matthew j. sroka, ed.d. student at salisbury university.

Matthew Sroka teaches English at Queen Anne’s County High School in Centreville, Maryland. He is currently pursuing a doctorate of education at Salisbury University. The focus of his research is on the reading lives of secondary English teachers.

Herr, K., & Anderson, G. L. (2015). The action research dissertation. Sage.

Kerkhoff, S., Broere, M., & Premont, D. (2020). Average and avid: Preservice English teachers' reading identities. English Teaching: Practice & Critique, 19, 197-215.

Rubin, J.C. & Land, C.L. (2017), “This is English class”: Evolving identities and a literacy teacher’s shifts in practice across figured worlds. Teaching and Teacher Education, 68, 190-199.

Scholes, R. E. (1998). The rise and fall of English: Reconstructing English as a discipline. Yale University Press.

Trust, T., Krutka, D. G., & Carpenter, J. P. (2016). “Together we are better”: Professional learning networks for teachers. Computers & Education, 102, 15-34.

Trust, T., Carpenter, J. P., Krutka, D. G., & Kimmons, R. (2020). #RemoteTeaching & #RemoteLearning: educator tweeting during the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 28(2), 151-159.

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dissertation topics on covid 19

How to Write About Coronavirus in a College Essay

Students can share how they navigated life during the coronavirus pandemic in a full-length essay or an optional supplement.

Writing About COVID-19 in College Essays

Serious disabled woman concentrating on her work she sitting at her workplace and working on computer at office

Experts say students should be honest and not limit themselves to merely their experiences with the pandemic. (Getty Images)

The global impact of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, means colleges and prospective students alike are in for an admissions cycle like no other. Both face unprecedented challenges and questions as they grapple with their respective futures amid the ongoing fallout of the pandemic.

Colleges must examine applicants without the aid of standardized test scores for many – a factor that prompted many schools to go test-optional for now . Even grades, a significant component of a college application, may be hard to interpret with some high schools adopting pass-fail classes last spring due to the pandemic. Major college admissions factors are suddenly skewed.

"I can't help but think other (admissions) factors are going to matter more," says Ethan Sawyer, founder of the College Essay Guy, a website that offers free and paid essay-writing resources.

College essays and letters of recommendation , Sawyer says, are likely to carry more weight than ever in this admissions cycle. And many essays will likely focus on how the pandemic shaped students' lives throughout an often tumultuous 2020.

But before writing a college essay focused on the coronavirus, students should explore whether it's the best topic for them.

Writing About COVID-19 for a College Application

Much of daily life has been colored by the coronavirus. Virtual learning is the norm at many colleges and high schools, many extracurriculars have vanished and social lives have stalled for students complying with measures to stop the spread of COVID-19.

"For some young people, the pandemic took away what they envisioned as their senior year," says Robert Alexander, dean of admissions, financial aid and enrollment management at the University of Rochester in New York. "Maybe that's a spot on a varsity athletic team or the lead role in the fall play. And it's OK for them to mourn what should have been and what they feel like they lost, but more important is how are they making the most of the opportunities they do have?"

That question, Alexander says, is what colleges want answered if students choose to address COVID-19 in their college essay.

But the question of whether a student should write about the coronavirus is tricky. The answer depends largely on the student.

"In general, I don't think students should write about COVID-19 in their main personal statement for their application," Robin Miller, master college admissions counselor at IvyWise, a college counseling company, wrote in an email.

"Certainly, there may be exceptions to this based on a student's individual experience, but since the personal essay is the main place in the application where the student can really allow their voice to be heard and share insight into who they are as an individual, there are likely many other topics they can choose to write about that are more distinctive and unique than COVID-19," Miller says.

Opinions among admissions experts vary on whether to write about the likely popular topic of the pandemic.

"If your essay communicates something positive, unique, and compelling about you in an interesting and eloquent way, go for it," Carolyn Pippen, principal college admissions counselor at IvyWise, wrote in an email. She adds that students shouldn't be dissuaded from writing about a topic merely because it's common, noting that "topics are bound to repeat, no matter how hard we try to avoid it."

Above all, she urges honesty.

"If your experience within the context of the pandemic has been truly unique, then write about that experience, and the standing out will take care of itself," Pippen says. "If your experience has been generally the same as most other students in your context, then trying to find a unique angle can easily cross the line into exploiting a tragedy, or at least appearing as though you have."

But focusing entirely on the pandemic can limit a student to a single story and narrow who they are in an application, Sawyer says. "There are so many wonderful possibilities for what you can say about yourself outside of your experience within the pandemic."

He notes that passions, strengths, career interests and personal identity are among the multitude of essay topic options available to applicants and encourages them to probe their values to help determine the topic that matters most to them – and write about it.

That doesn't mean the pandemic experience has to be ignored if applicants feel the need to write about it.

Writing About Coronavirus in Main and Supplemental Essays

Students can choose to write a full-length college essay on the coronavirus or summarize their experience in a shorter form.

To help students explain how the pandemic affected them, The Common App has added an optional section to address this topic. Applicants have 250 words to describe their pandemic experience and the personal and academic impact of COVID-19.

"That's not a trick question, and there's no right or wrong answer," Alexander says. Colleges want to know, he adds, how students navigated the pandemic, how they prioritized their time, what responsibilities they took on and what they learned along the way.

If students can distill all of the above information into 250 words, there's likely no need to write about it in a full-length college essay, experts say. And applicants whose lives were not heavily altered by the pandemic may even choose to skip the optional COVID-19 question.

"This space is best used to discuss hardship and/or significant challenges that the student and/or the student's family experienced as a result of COVID-19 and how they have responded to those difficulties," Miller notes. Using the section to acknowledge a lack of impact, she adds, "could be perceived as trite and lacking insight, despite the good intentions of the applicant."

To guard against this lack of awareness, Sawyer encourages students to tap someone they trust to review their writing , whether it's the 250-word Common App response or the full-length essay.

Experts tend to agree that the short-form approach to this as an essay topic works better, but there are exceptions. And if a student does have a coronavirus story that he or she feels must be told, Alexander encourages the writer to be authentic in the essay.

"My advice for an essay about COVID-19 is the same as my advice about an essay for any topic – and that is, don't write what you think we want to read or hear," Alexander says. "Write what really changed you and that story that now is yours and yours alone to tell."

Sawyer urges students to ask themselves, "What's the sentence that only I can write?" He also encourages students to remember that the pandemic is only a chapter of their lives and not the whole book.

Miller, who cautions against writing a full-length essay on the coronavirus, says that if students choose to do so they should have a conversation with their high school counselor about whether that's the right move. And if students choose to proceed with COVID-19 as a topic, she says they need to be clear, detailed and insightful about what they learned and how they adapted along the way.

"Approaching the essay in this manner will provide important balance while demonstrating personal growth and vulnerability," Miller says.

Pippen encourages students to remember that they are in an unprecedented time for college admissions.

"It is important to keep in mind with all of these (admission) factors that no colleges have ever had to consider them this way in the selection process, if at all," Pippen says. "They have had very little time to calibrate their evaluations of different application components within their offices, let alone across institutions. This means that colleges will all be handling the admissions process a little bit differently, and their approaches may even evolve over the course of the admissions cycle."

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dissertation topics on covid 19

  • Dissertation Topics


The COVID-19 Coronavirus emerged as one of the deadliest events of the present age. This lethal pandemic has altered the way people socialize, conduct business, education, politics, and more. The world has changed with the coronavirus pandemic, which has now become a norm in our society. After the outburst of the coronavirus, healthcare systems collapsed at a time when countries around the world, including the United Kingdom, initiated lockdowns. Thus, students have exciting opportunities to conduct research on COVID-19 by selecting appealing and meaningful COVID-19 Coronavirus Dissertation Topics .

Are you looking for quality Coronavirus Dissertation Topics?

For the ease of students who are looking for well-thought-out dissertation topics in COVID-19, expert writers at Premier Dissertations have developed a list of 25+ exciting research topics and examples in coronavirus to get started on their dissertation journey with flying colours.

If you would like to choose any topic from the given list, simply drop us a  WhatsApp Message  or an  Email , and we will be readily available for your assistance.

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  • Mental Health Dissertation Topics | Health and Safety Dissertation Topics
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dissertation topics on covid 19

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dissertation topics on covid 19

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List of covid-19 coronavirus dissertation topics 2023, how does it work.

Our team will;

- Propose New Covid-19 Dissertation Topics - Dissertation Proposal (for approval and feedback) - 1st half Dissertation (Chapters 1 to 3) - Final Dissertation (Chapters 1 to 5)

How does it work?

What is Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by the newly discovered coronavirus that wreaked havoc worldwide. It first emerged in Wuhan, China, before becoming the global pandemic.

  • The virus is mainly transmitted through droplets created when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or exhales.
  • People can become infected by breathing in the virus if in close proximity to someone or by touching contaminated surfaces and then your nose, mouth, and eyes.

Review the latest insights on coronavirus (COVID-19) within the UK.

How Can We Help?

1 - Share new nursing dissertation topics with you to choose from 2 - Draft an outline on your selected topic 3 - Complete the dissertation proposal 4 - Complete any amendments you need 5 - Complete the full dissertation after the proposal has been approved

dissertation topics on covid 19

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Research Topics for Students in 2023

For many researchers, it has become imperative that research be conducted under pandemic conditions to better understand our present and prepare for our future. The effects of COVID-19 have been tough, especially with millions of casualties worldwide.

Researchers now have the opportunity to conduct studies in real-time using modern experimental techniques and methods. Modernised research equipment provides researchers with opportunities to collect data more efficiently to increase precision and accuracy.

To help students with incorporating these real-world problems into their dissertation topics, our expert writers have developed a list of covid-19 pandemic dissertation topics.

  • The list includes the assessment of the pandemic through various academic interests, such as research topics related to covid-19 in healthcare and covid-19 thesis topics in political science.
  • The list created can be used by master’s and PhD students to develop ideas for their dissertation topics.

We hope all these aspects will help in getting your dissertation topic title approved!

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Writing a dissertation during the pandemic

Polish student weronika denes shares some tips for other students studying remotely on how she wrote her dissertation during the pandemic.

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Weronika Denes

How to choose a topic for your dissertation

Being in lockdown has been a difficult situation for everyone, however I have found it additionally difficult because I have also had to complete a dissertation project. Like many other students, I found myself in a new place where I needed to handle both the Covid-19 pandemic and university stress.

This is why it is vital to talk about the well-being of students, especially those in their final year who are writing up their dissertation.

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Writing a dissertation is a challenging task, whether there is a pandemic or not. It requires a lot of time and precision.

Therefore, it is important to continue to ask for help from university staff any time you get stuck during the process. They will be able to help you talk through your ideas and provide guidance on writing your dissertation. Make use of office hours and book in regular meetings with your dissertation supervisor to ensure you stay connected. 

Create a study plan with your supervisors for how you will structure your working hours. Take some time each week to map out when you will write and when you will do research. Having a clear plan, with small steps and tasks to complete each day, will make your dissertation feel less daunting. Ensure that you schedule regular breaks too. 

If you are struggling with your physical or mental well-being, it is  important to remember that your university will have well-being advisors you can get in touch with. You do not have to feel alone through this and a call or email to a specialist will help you manage the process.

Producing a dissertation requires a lot of energy so it also important to include some healthy habits in your routine to help you stay positive and motivated. For me, journalling has been an excellent way of relaxing. You can write down your everyday small goals or things you are grateful for. Or you can write down your feelings and frustrations as a way to process them. 

Other ways to manage stress include talking to friends, going for walks and spending some time on hobbies you enjoy. Don’t forget that Rome wasn’t built in a day so take your time when writing your dissertation. 

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How to choose a topic for your dissertation

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  1. Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Global Economy Dissertation Topics

    Topic 1: COVID-19 and Disruptive Innovation in Global Supply Chains: A Study to Find Innovations in Supply Chain Processes due to COVID-19. Research Aim: This research aims to find the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on disruptive innovations in global supply chains. It will analyze the changes in the supply chain process across the globe.

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    'I was thinking of writing my dissertation on COVID-19' Below are 10 suggested questions with suggested literature and methods, covering institutions, security, race, policy, vaccines, gender, aesthetics, expertise, knowledge. These by no means cover everything and by no means prescribe how I think a dissertation on that topic should be ...

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    COVID-19 Topics; Featured Topics . Treatments . The latest on treatments and other therapies for COVID-19. Vaccines. ... Search NIH COVID-19 Articles and Resources Scroll down the page to view all COVID-19 articles, stories, and resources from across NIH. You can also select a topic from the list to view resources on that topic.

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    The COVID-19 pandemic has caused widespread infection, school closures, and high rates of job loss. Much of the current research has focused on the clinical features of COVID-19 infection, but the family well-being consequences of COVID-19 are less well documented. The goal of the current study is to describe parent and child well-being

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    The spread of the "Severe Acute Respiratory Coronavirus 2" (SARS-CoV-2), the causal agent of COVID-19, was characterized as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) in March 2020 and has triggered an international public health emergency [].The numbers of confirmed cases and deaths due to COVID-19 are rapidly escalating, counting in millions [], causing massive economic strain ...

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    Associate Professor Dr Ulrich Sedelmeier co-authored an article on 'Issue framing, political identities, and public support for multilateral vaccine cooperation during Covid-19' in the European Journal of Political Research.; PhD candidate Asha Herten-Crabb, together with Dr Clare Wenham, has published a paper on women's experiences in the UK during the first two waves of COVID.

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