Retraction Watch readers are likely familiar with the varied — and often unsatisfying — responses of journals to scientific sleuthing that uncovers potential problems with published images. Some editors take the issues seriously, even hiring staff to respond to allegations and vet manuscripts before publication. Some, however, take years to handle the allegations, or ignore them altogether.
The release of this fantastic resource document is a great move in the battle against image manipulation. It is an active step in a space that is often woefully reactive and unsatisfactory. Journals, research funding bodies and institutions should adopt it to inform their practice.
outline a structured approach to support editors and others applying image integrity screening as part of pre-publication quality control checks or post publication investigation of image and data integrity issues at scholarly journals, books, preprint servers, or data repositories. It provides principles and a three-tier classification for different types of image and data aberrations commonly detected in image integrity screens of figures in research papers and for a consideration of impact on the scholarly study; it also recommends actions journal editors may take to protect the scholarly record. The guidance covers data as rendered in figures in research papers or preprints including source data underlying these figures, where available. It does not include the reanalysis or forensic screening of raw data and large datasets (for example for statistical reporting).