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Surgisphere scandal results in change in editorial practices at The Lancet

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Readers may remember the Surgisphere scandal back in June/July when, among other things, an anti-hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) editorial was retracted and replaced after the paper it supported was retracted. Not a good week at The Lancet. The paper deprecating HCQ was not only full of errors and problems but demonstrably so; thus, the big question was, how did it ever get published?

Not everyone’s sure the new disclosure policies are enough:

James Watson, a senior scientist at the Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit (MORU) in Thailand who in May organized an open letter listing concerns about the hydroxychloroquine study, tells The Scientist in an email that the new data-sharing statements in particular are an important change, “although Lancet are pretty late to the game,” as many other publishers already require such statements.

He adds that “making it clear that the data sharing statement will be used by the editors to evaluate a new submission is a great incentive for people to think hard about data sharing and find clever ways of doing it.” MORU’s own study of hydroxychloroquine as COVID-19 prevention in healthcare workers was suspended following The Lancet paper’s publication, although it has since been reinstated.

Like Malički, Watson and other researchers note that the changes don’t address larger, more general issues highlighted by Surgisphere’s papers, including journals’ reluctance to push authors to share data and code for published studies, and an overall lack of transparency in how papers are reviewed before and after publication.

Catherine Offord, “The Lancet Alters Editorial Practices After Surgisphere Scandal” at The Scientist

Why do some of us think that those larger, more general issues are not addressed, “Surgisphere” will happen again?

See also: The Big COVID-19 retraction: Top people didn’t notice the smell?


Why not to trust science just now: COVID-19 edition: The appalling Surgisphere story shows how shallow the rhetoric is.

3 Replies to “Surgisphere scandal results in change in editorial practices at The Lancet

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    Like plagiarism, sharing data is a fake issue. Journals will continue to publish current fashion and reject unfashionable papers. It doesn’t matter if the bad info is “retracted” after it’s been published.

    In science as in regular media, the only thing that matters is which side comes out FIRST. Regular media often publish “retractions” in the fine print several months after the original bad info has made a giant impact on public opinion and justified murderous tyranny.

  2. 2
    martin_r says:

    “i trust science”… everytime i debate an evolutionist, i always hear the same “i trust science and scientists” …

    here you go …

  3. 3
    jerry says:

    One of the still remaining effects of the Lancet debacle is the inability to recruit people for studies. Volunteers for studies involving HCQ dropped off dramatically after the Surgisphere inspired Lancet study.

    Another bogus study, the Recovery Study, at Oxford put a lid on the coffin of meaningful HCQ studies. They introduced lethal quantities of HCQ to already very sick patients and they died at higher rates. Amazing incompetence. Or deliberate?

    So HCQ has to fight not only the bad studies but the press, big Pharma, and the medical establishment which lies about it and the politics of immorality that doesn’t care if people die as long as they win elections.

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