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Changes to the Lancet's Process

The Lancet has made changes to its peer-review process in the wake of its high-profile retraction of a COVID-19-related paper, Science reports.

In June, the Lancet retracted a paper that purported to show antimalarial drugs increase the risk of death among COVID-19 patients. But concerns were soon raised about the data source that it and another now-retracted paper in the New England Journal of Medicine relied upon. The papers both used a database run by Surgisphere, but the Guardian reported at the time that some experts noted discrepancies between its data and data from other sources. The papers were then retracted when Surgisphere declined to make its data available to independent auditors.

Science reports that the Lancet has now updated its peer-review process. In an editorial, the journal says it will now require that more than one author certifies that he or she had access to and verified the primary data and that in academic-commercial collaborations, one of those authors must be from the academic institution. In addition, the Lancet says it will also require additional peer review for papers relying on large, real-world datasets.

"As trusted sources of information, the Lancet journals are committed to ensuring that our editorial processes will continue to be as robust as possible," the Lancet editors write.

However, Science notes that some researchers say these changes aren't enough.