The Covid infodemic: Competition and the hyping of virus research

Ken Hyland, Feng Kevin Jiang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)
103 Downloads (Pure)


Covid-19, the greatest global health crisis for a century, brought a new immediacy and urgency to international bio-medical research. The pandemic generated intense competition to produce a vaccine and contain the virus, creating what the World Health Organization referred to as an ‘infodemic’ of published output. In this frantic atmosphere, researchers were keen to get their research noticed. In this paper, we explore whether this enthusiasm influenced the rhetorical presentation of research and encouraged scientists to “sell” their studies. Examining a corpus of the most highly cited SCI articles on the virus published in the first seven months of 2020, we explore authors’ use of hyperbolic and promotional language to boost aspects of their research. Our results show a significant increase in hype to stress certainty, contribution, novelty and potential, especially regarding research methods, outcomes and primacy. Our study sheds light on scientific persuasion at a time of intense social anxiety.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)444-468
Number of pages25
JournalInternational Journal of Corpus Linguistics
Issue number4
Early online date25 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 10 Nov 2021


  • Covid-19
  • hype
  • boosters
  • attitude markers
  • science research articles
  • Academic persuasion
  • Hype
  • Scientific writing
  • Covid research

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