sification, or plagiarism of research results.4 However, the editors at the Journal of Cell Biology do not consider the element of “intent” in their inquiries into potential violations of their guidelines. They obtain the original data directly from the authors, since whether an image has been inappropriately manipulated can be determined only by comparing the submitted figures with the original data. Initial inquiries from the journal emphasize that questions are being asked only about the presentation of data, not its integrity, and inquiries are kept strictly confidential between a journal and authors.

The section on image manipulation in the White Paper on Promoting Integrity in Scientific Journal Publications by the Council of Science Editors, which was written by the editors at the Journal of Cell Biology, suggests that “journal editors should attempt to resolve the problem before a case is reported. This is because the vast majority of cases do not turn out to be fraudulent.”5

Since the Journal of Cell Biology adopted its policy, other journals, including the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and Nature, have begun screening images for evidence of inappropriate manipulation (see Table 2-1). Generally, these journals have screened a subset of papers and have made the additional level of scrutiny known to authors in the hope that this will act as a disincentive to manipulation.6 In addition, software is being developed that may automate at least part of the screening process so that more images can be examined with less expense.

Publishers of scientific, engineering, and medical journals continue to grapple with issues related to technological change and ensuring the integrity of published results. Concurrent with the present study, a number of leading journals have held a series of meetings to discuss these issues. One question is whether the additional efforts on the part of journals to screen digital images entail additional responsibilities. For example, suppose a journal screens digital images in a manuscript, finds something suspicious, and after undertaking an inquiry and finding that an image has been fraudulently manipulated rejects the paper. Does the journal have further responsibilities, and if so what are they? According to the White Paper on Promoting Integrity in Scientific Journal Publications by the Council of Science Editors, when a journal “suspects an article contains material that may result in a finding of misconduct, the editor can notify some or all of the following parties: the author who submitted the article, all authors of the article, the institution that employs the author(s), the sponsor of the study, or an agency that would have jurisdiction over an inves-


Office of Science and Technology Policy, Federal Policy on Research Misconduct. Available at


Editorial Policy Committee. 2006. CSE’s White Paper on Promoting Integrity in Scientific Journal Publications. Reston, VA: Council of Science Editors, p. 50.


Unfortunately, the experience of the editors of the Journal of Cell Biology indicates that this is not the case, because the rates at which they see image manipulation have not declined over the past 5 years.

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