OPERAS launches “Beyond Covid-19”: Call for participation

Beyond Covid-19
Credits: “St. Louis Red Cross Motor Corps on duty Oct. 1918 Influenza epidemic.” https://www.loc.gov/item/2011661525/

About Beyond Covid-19

Beyond Covid-19 is an open access reference library of humanities and social sciences research to support the better understanding of the major changes that societies around the world are experiencing as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Beyond Covid-19 accumulates reading notes which summarize in an accessible way the content of selected publications and further establish their relevance in the current context. The open access reference library is complemented by a Zotero library where bibliographic references of selected publications are stored.

The open access reference library is open to contributions from the entire social sciences and humanities research community and is managed by the OPERAS coordination team and volunteers.

Why Beyond Covid-19?

The pandemic currently affecting European societies and those around the world is being dealt with primarily from a health perspective. But we know that a health crisis at this scale is accompanied by difficulties and major challenges of all kinds: economical, political, social and cultural, that will lead to changes in our society itself..

In this context, research in the humanities and social sciences can help societies to better understand the transformations they are undergoing, to cope with them and to prepare for the future. However, the results of such research must be accessible in all senses of the word. The results should be open access, but they must also be selected, contextualized, explained and brought to the attention of those who are likely to use them: journalists, teachers, social workers, decision makers of all kinds and all citizens wishing to engage.

We, therefore, propose to build together an open and annotated library of human and social science publications in open access. The first step is to select validated publications that can help us better understand the current situation. By “validated publications” we mean first of all books and journal articles that have undergone a peer review process. Exceptionally, this scope may be extended to academic research notebooks, provided they are based on research work and are not opinion forums. On this basis, we propose to feed a library that gathers these references and to highlight each of these references with a reading note published on a dedicated research notebook on the Hypotheses platform. 

Our objective is, therefore, not to select publications that deal directly with the COVID-19 pandemic, but to choose those that can help us understand the situation, because they deal either with similar cases (such as past epidemics), or with themes important to the situation (such as states of exception, economic depressions, the virtualization of social and professional relations, the recent evolution of health systems and the resilience of societies in times of crisis). This selection would be accompanied by a note explaining the importance of those publications to a wider audience.

How you can participate in Beyond Covid-19

We have sought to implement a very simple and straightforward process that does not involve multiple validation steps. You can proceed as follows:

1.     Select a publication

Select a publication you want to submit to the library. This publication will have to meet three criteria:

  • involve humanities or social sciences (in the broadest sense)
  • be peer-reviewed (exceptions possible for research notebooks)
  • be likely to shed light on the current situation.

We prefer to highlight publications that are available online and in open access, but we also accept other publications. In the latter case, we will alert publishers to those publications that we feel are important to make available for the common good.

We accept publications in all languages. The library we want to build will be decidedly multilingual! On the other hand, we do not accept forums, opinion pieces, and other blog posts on the COVID-19 epidemic, even written by recognized researchers, because that is not the purpose of this library.

2.     Add the publication to our Zotero Library

Use your Zotero account to suggest it for inclusion in the library. If you are not using Zotero, we will explain how to do this below.

  • Join the Beyond COVID-19 Zotero group
  • Add your reference in the ‘New’ folder.
  • Make sure that the bibliographical references are complete.
  • In particular, fill in the ‘language’ field and add keywords

3.     Write your note

Write your reading note. This note must include three parts answering three questions:

  • What is the content of the publication (abstract)?
  • What is the context of the publication (who is the author, what is the particularity of the approach used)
  • How is this publication likely to shed light on the current situation?

We accept reading notes in all languages because our research notebook will be also multilingual and it will be possible to sort the notes by language. They do not necessarily have to be in the same language as the publications they present. In any case, remember that these notes are intended to be read by a wide audience!

You can write your note directly in Zotero. In that case, add your reading note to the “Notes” field of the bibliographic reference in Zotero and transfer the reference to the “Notes” folder in the Zotero group.

You can also write it in a file (txt, html, doc, docx, odt, rtf accepted).

4.     Send you note

To send your note, you can either:

  • Use our online form
  • Send us a message at: covid19[a]operas-eu.org. Please specify in your message, your name, your affiliation if you have one, and a link to your online profile (personal website, profile web page on your institution’s website, ORCID profile, Academia, Linkedin, etc.), if you have one.

Our editorial team will then proofread your note, edit it if necessary and publish it with your signature and a Creative Commons CC-BY license by default, unless otherwise specified.

5.     Other possibilities

If you do not use Zotero, no problem! Just send us the reference (link), your note and your biographical information by email. We will process it.You can also suggest publications without writing notes, or write notes for references without notes. You can propose translations of notes written (send it directly to us by email) or suggest initiatives from the social sciences and humanities community (we will highlight them on the notebook). Finally, you can offer your help in managing the editing process or make any other proposal.

Write to us and contribute! covid19[a]operas-eu.org.


Judith Schulte

Digital Humanities Officer at Max Weber Stiftung (MWS) and Communication Officer for OPERAS

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