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How damaging can an image be?

We all know the phrase ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’. Well, in scientific paper publication, a single image is worth your entire reputation.

Here we explain why researchers should focus on image integrity as much as content quality to streamline the publication process and protect their reputation.

microscope image

While the scientific research community is aware that there can be issues with image manipulation and duplication, few researchers understand how frequently these issues can occur. According to research, one in four life sciences papers published have some form of image duplication or manipulation, either unintentionally or intentionally — so if researchers have published multiple papers with multiple images, it is likely that some of is published papers, contains some form of image issues.

Image integrity issues can go unnoticed because it is difficult to manually review all the images in an article. The consequences of not detecting these issues, however, can be detrimental to a researcher’s reputation severely.


If someone detects an issue post-publication and reports it in web blogs, the publisher must open an investigation to determine if the allegation is true and if so, how the issue occurred. Investigations can take up to two years, putting pressure on the researcher and significantly reducing their chances of winning funding, conducting research or publishing elsewhere, meaning that no matter the outcome of the investigation, researchers must work hard to rebuild their reputation.

This is why we at Proofig try to set your mind at ease

Proofig automated image proofing software uses artificial intelligence (AI) to automatically scan every image in a research paper and detect the images that appear to be duplicated or manipulated, checking an entire paper in one to two minutes. Each image is checked against itself and against the rest of the images, to detect any anomalies that researchers should amend before publication.

You can learn more about Proofig here

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