The Lancet is one of the oldest peer-reviewed medical journals in the world, published weekly by Elsevier, part of Reed Elsevier. It was founded in 1823 by Thomas Wakley, who named it after the surgical instrument called a lancet, as well as an arched window ("to let in light").
The present editor-in-chief is Richard Horton. The Lancet takes a stand on several important medical issues - recent examples include criticism of the World Health Organization, rejecting the efficacy of homeopathy as a therapeutic option and its disapproval of Reed Elsevier's links with the arms industry.
The Lancet has a significant readership throughout the world with a high impact factor. It publishes original research articles, review articles ("seminars" and "reviews"), editorials, book reviews, correspondences, amidst other regulars such as news features and case reports. The Lancet is considered to be one of the "core" general medical journals, the others being the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of the American Medical Association, and the British Medical Journal. The Lancet's impact factor is currently ranked #2 among general medical journals (click here for impact factor rankings).
The Lancet has now given birth to a few sub-speciality journals, all bearing the parent title - The Lancet Neurology (neurology), The Lancet Oncology (oncology) and The Lancet Infectious Diseases (infectious diseases). All of them have established significant reputations as medical journals, though most started out publishing only review articles.
Prior to 1990, Lancet had volume numbering that reset every year. Issues in January to June were in volume i, with the rest in volume ii. In 1990, Lancet moved to a sequential volume numbering scheme, with two volumes per year. Volumes were retro-actively assigned to the years prior to 1990, with the first issue of 1990 being assigned volume 335, and the last issue of 1989 assigned volume 334. The table of contents listing on Science Direct uses this new numbering scheme.
The Lancet was severely criticized after it published a paper in 1998, in which the authors linked the MMR vaccine with autism. In February 2004 The Lancet published a partial retraction of the paper (Lancet 2004;363:750). Dr Horton went on the record to say the paper had "fatal conflicts of interest" because one of the authors had a serious conflict of interest that he had not declared to The Lancet .
The Lancet published a controversial estimate of the Iraq war's Iraqi death toll--around one hundred thousand--in 2004. In 2006 a followup study by the same team suggested that the violent death rate in Iraq was not only consistent with the earlier estimate, but had increased considerably in the intervening period (Lancet surveys of mortality before and after the 2003 invasion of Iraq). The second survey estimated that there had been 654,965 excess Iraqi deaths as a consequence of the war. The 95% confidence interval was 392,979 to 942,636. 1849 households that contained 12,801 people were surveyed.
In January 2006, it was revealed that data had been fabricated in an article by the Norwegian cancer researcher Jon Sudbø and 13 co-authors published in The Lancet in October 2005 . The fabricated article was entitled "Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and the risk of oral cancer: a nested case-control study". . Within a week after this scandal surfaced in the news, the high-impact New England Journal of Medicine published an expression of editorial concern regarding another research paper published on a similar topic in the journal.
- New England Journal of Medicine
- Journal of the American Medical Association
- British Medical Journal
- Annals of Internal Medicine
- The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics
- Canadian Medical Association Journal
- List of medical journals
- The Lancet
- 2007 Impact factors of top medical journals, The Lancet's impact factor ranked #3 in General Medicine
- briandeer.com - 'Brian Deer: The Lancet scandal' (MMR)