The Covid infodemic: Competition and the hyping of virus research

Ken Hyland, Feng Kevin Jiang

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The COVID-19 pandemic is a global health crisis unlike any in the past 100 years, spreading suffering, crippling economies, and upending people’s lives. It also represents an unprecedented challenge to scientific and medical research as scientists urgently search for understanding. In this feverish atmosphere of intense, high-stakes competition, researchers may be tempted to ‘sell’ or ‘hype’ aspects of their studies. We explore this issue by examining a corpus of the 200 most highly cited articles discussing the virus from the Web of Science and published in SCI-indexed journals between January to July 2020. We study authors use of hyperbolic language to glamorise, promote or embellish their research to determine the extent they hype their research, the forms they use to do so, the aspects of research they target and whether this has changed over time. Our findings contribute to the work on academic persuasion and the relationship between social anxiety and research communication.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Corpus Linguistics
Early online date25 Feb 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Feb 2021


  • Covid-19
  • hype
  • boosters
  • attitude markers
  • science research articles

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