Coronavirus (996) Lancet editorial: COVID-19: a stress test for trust in science

26 September, 2020

10 days ago on HIFA we asked: What (if anything) will be the impact of COVID-19 and misinformation on open access and other initiatives to increase access to health research information?

This editorial in The Lancet does not specifically answer this question, but looks more broadly at the impact of COVID on health research and publishing. It concludes: 'This pandemic has had an enormous effect on collaborative, adaptive, and rapid research, rapid publication of important findings and scientific ideas, and public interest in and scrutiny of research and science.' The bottom line is building trust: trust in publishing, and trust in science. 'Trust in research and its role in political decision making and policy changes have never been more at the forefront of public discussion and scrutiny than during the current public health crisis.'

Below are extracts. Full text here: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)31954-1/fulltext

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CITATION: Editorial| volume 396, issue 10254, p799, september 19, 2020

COVID-19: a stress test for trust in science

The Lancet. Published: September 19, 2020 DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)31954-1

Peer Review Week is the annual celebration of the importance of peer review, running Sept 21–25. The theme this year is trust in peer review, a particularly appropriate focus during the COVID-19 pandemic... Trust in research and its role in political decision making and policy changes have never been more at the forefront of public discussion and scrutiny than during the current public health crisis...

Equally our editors, many of whom are women, have been coordinating our 21 journals under difficult circumstances while largely working from home for more than 6 months. In some cases, we have had five times as many submissions as usual, and have had to rapidly publish important work without compromising our usual quality checks or publication processes...

Therefore, to coincide with Peer Review Week 2020, we have created a new online resource for a broad audience to explain our editorial processes and policies. Additionally, we have illustrated the journey of a paper through our system as an infographic, outlining our different types of papers, such as Comments, Editorials, news items, and letters, and what can be concluded from them.

Preprints have been subject to particularly polarised discussion during the COVID-19 pandemic, with both positive and negative aspects brought to light...

This pandemic has had an enormous effect on collaborative, adaptive, and rapid research, rapid publication of important findings and scientific ideas, and public interest in and scrutiny of research and science. If we can continue to work together to strengthen research and trust in science with the ultimate goal of using the best science for better lives, then the pandemic could have an unexpected positive side-effect.

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Best wishes, Neil

Let's build a future where people are no longer dying for lack of healthcare information - Join HIFA: www.hifa.org

HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - www.hifa.org ), a global community with more than 19,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages in collaboration with WHO. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: facebook.com/HIFAdotORG neil@hifa.org