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remember the Surgisphere scandal back in June/July when, among other things, an anti-hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) editorial was retracted and replaced after the paper it supported was retracted.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.