By Adam Blackwell , Product Manager Lead, ProQuest
What We Talk About When We Talk About COVID-19 is a new animated video series created by ProQuest. Our objective was to help laypeople (like many of us!) understand some of the key issues relating to the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. The five videos have a combined running time of 33 minutes, and we encourage you to share them with your faculty, patrons, students or anyone you’d like. The videos are licensed so that you can link to or embed them without notifying or requesting permission from ProQuest.
In the first four videos, we provide the basics on what viruses are, how they replicate, and why anyone should care; explain what has made the COVID-19 virus unusual and why it has proved so disruptive; and make sense of zoonosis, asymptomatic transmission, flattening the curve and all those other concepts you keep hearing about but may not totally understand.
In the fifth and final video, we move to providing some guidance on how you can judge the credibility of information on COVID-19. Ironically, it was this video – which deals with issues that we, as a company, think about all the time – that proved the most challenging. More than a month passed between the day I sat down to write the first draft and the day we finalized the script. Part of this delay stemmed from my working so closely with a colleague, Rachel Ligairi, who is the world’s most punishingly and unforgivingly thorough editor. But it also stemmed quite simply from the inherent difficulty of evaluating information about COVID-19.
Most of the topics ProQuest creates resources for are understood exhaustively. We may not understand all the details, but there are people out there who do. That’s not true of COVID-19. There are questions, including some hugely important ones, that literally no one on earth currently has answers to.
In the fifth video we make the point that when it comes to evaluating sources of information about COVID-19, all the usual rules apply. But, because so much remains unknown, we also suggest it’s important to accept that, at least for now, there is a limit to what even the most authoritative sources can tell us. As such, we encourage viewers to tolerate uncertainty and to get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable.
There are a couple of big reasons that developing skills like these is important. First, a relative comfort with uncertainty will make it easier to accept that changing recommendations from public health scientists aren’t evidence they’re “making stuff up” – but, on the contrary, are evidence that their recommendations are being driven by new data and greater knowledge of how the virus spreads. Second, the more people can accept there are facts about COVID-19 that are simply not known, the better equipped they will likely be to resist the simplistic answers offered by conspiracy theories, several of which we consider in this last video.
View all five videos on the ProQuest YouTube channel. We’d welcome your feedback on any of them and, if you found them helpful, we’d ask you to consider sharing them.
ProQuest is working in collaboration with partners around the world to help our customers bridge gaps created by the changing research, teaching and learning environment. You can stay up to date on programs and resources by visiting www.proquest.com. Let us know how we can help you and users by contacting your account team or visiting https://support.proquest.com.