Why you should check image integrity
Scientific writing is increasingly done online to enable collaboration between researchers and universities across the world. While collaboration is key to development in a range of scientific fields, it does make it easier for unintentional image duplication to occur. Disorganised file storage or file names can cause confusion about which images have been included in a paper, leading to duplication of the whole image or a partial duplication. Some files, such as western-blot bands images, can look very similar by eye, so it can be challenging to quickly tell if a specific image has already been included, especially if it has been rotated or resized.
If researchers submit a paper that includes duplicated images and it is published, they risk the papers being reported for misleading information. This can lead to a costly investigation and a possible retraction of the paper, damaging their reputation. Lengthy investigations also create large costs to the publisher who are expected to finance the investigation and the researcher have a challenge to publish any new research for a number of years.
Proactively checking for image duplication
Integrating image checking before submission for peer review can simplify the process to publishing. Without clear quality testing of image integrity researchers cannot check for simple reasons a paper might be rejected by a publisher, avoiding the unknown reason for rejection further down the line.
To avoid time consuming and damaging investigations, researchers can use advances in image checking technology to automatically review image integrity. Over the last few years, the development in artificial intelligence technology has allowed researchers and publishers to carry out image checking quickly and more effectively, compared to manual methods or on a computer. As a result, image checking software like Proofig, produces more accurate findings in minutes, providing reports that researchers can use to avoid publishing duplications .
Image checking software can also be used as an educational tool by senior researchers to help educate students contributing to current research and collating the paper. If image duplication occurs, from something such as accidently duplicating part of a cropped image, the software will pick this issue up. Researchers can use this information as a learning point for the students to learn how to organize their data better and to ensure all future work the students do is compliant with publishing standards and is factually accurate.
With only small portion of manuscript been publishing in the leading journals, any small issue with the manuscript can cause it to be rejected, without additional reason.
Using image checking software allows researchers to fill in their knowledge gaps about why their papers are being rejected by publishers and have the peace of mind that their images do not have any unintentional duplication or integrity issues before publishing.