Three months ago, the prestigious medical journal The Lancet published, and then later retracted, a study on the use of hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19. The retraction was prompted by questions that were subsequently raised about the integrity of the data used for analysis from a database called Surgisphere, especially when it turned out that none of the co-authors had actually seen the Surgisphere data themselves. Now, more than ever, solid science is needed to help move through this pandemic. The Lancet’s newly-published policies are welcome, although the fact that these review mechanisms were not already in place is still surprising and disappointing.
From the Lancet’s new editorial policy:
“Editors will ensure that at least one peer reviewer is knowledgable about the details of the dataset being reported and can understand and comment on its strengths and limitations in relation to the research question being addressed. For studies that use very large datasets, editors will ensure that in addition to statistical peer review, a review from an expert in data science is obtained. Finally, we will explicitly ask reviewers if they have concerns about research integrity or publication ethics regarding the manuscript they are reviewing.”