Biomedical Journals' Standards for Digital Images in Biomedical Articles

Author:Caelleigh, Addeane, School of Medicine, CurriculumUniversity of Virginia

Standards for appropriate manipulation of digital data have developed more slowly than has the software for manipulating the images. Half of all cases now investigated by the federal Office of Research Integrity involve questions about digital images.

The authors examined the instructions to authors and related material for 446 biomedical journals to identify their guidelines and/or requirements for digital data images. Half (50%) of the journals had no guidelines or only referred to 'art' (printed illustrations). The other half (223 journals) had at least minimal guidelines, and 10% (44 journals) gave detailed information about their expectations.

Since 2003, when the Journal of Cell Biologybecame the first major journal to set guidelines for digital images and to screen submitted images, some journals had adopted at least minimal guidelines. Some, like 10% of our sample, adopted detailed guidelines. Many of those with detailed guidelines are among the most prominent journals in bioscience. For example, Science, Blood, and all 34 Nature Group journals now have detailed, explicit guidelines. Further, all Elsevier journals now have basic guidelines as well as strictures against inappropriate image manipulation.

(The poster presentation was presented at the Academy of Distinguished Educators, March 2011, and later at the Council of Science Editors Annual Meeting (Baltimore, MD), May 2011.)

digital images, research integrity, research misconduct, peer-reviewed journals
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Source Citation:

Caelleigh, Addeane. "Biomedical Journals' Standards for Digital Images in Biomedical Articles." Science Editor v34 (2011).

Council of Science Editors
Published Date:

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