In any field, it is difficult to reach consensus about best practices. For issues involving digital data-images, consensus is even harder to reach because of the varied disciplines that use data-images and the many ways the images may be used. Even within a single discipline, agreeing on best practices can be frustrating. One of the few societies in biomedical sciences to tackle these difficulties is the Microscopy Society of America (MSA), which has had an official policy on digital-image processing since 2003 .
Developing consensus on best practices for appropriate capture and post-processing of data-images faces familiar obstacles: limited time in busy professional lives; inertia; and general resistance to change. In the search for guiding principles—much less practices—for the capture, processing, and archiving of data-images, it is important not to underestimate the effort involved. John Mackenzie of North Carolina State University makes a case for “standardization in scientific digital imaging in order to ensure proper ethical manipulation” in the description of the short course—and, we hope, in the course itself—that he will teach later this year. (MSA’s Microscopy and Microanalysis Conference, July 20-August 2, 2012 )