Scientific Journals Battle Doctored Images

Publications see fraud in submissions; screening on the rise
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted May 30, 2008 4:40 PM CDT
Six nails are seen embedded in the skull of construction worker Isidro Mejia. Not a fake.   (AP Photo/Providence Holy Cross Medical Center)
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(Newser) – Scientific journals' status as bastions of objectivity and truth has come under fire in the past 10 years because of "image fraud," the Chronicle of Higher Education reports. Researchers alter representations of scientific data for inclusion in journal articles for various reasons, and not all have evil intentions. One admitted doctorer said she “was trying to present” the data “even better.”

An agency concerned with truth and accuracy in government-funded research reports that 10 years ago, 6% of its cases were related to image fraud. Today, the proportion is closer to half. And journals aren’t sitting idle; some have instituted automated software detection systems designed to root out doctored images that, though born of benign intentions, could derail important research.