Instructions to Authors—a Front-line Defense for image integrity

Journals’ Instructions to Authors give vital rules and guidelines, but unfortunately they seldom communicate expectations for ethical handling of data-images.  At the 2011 Council of Science Editors (CSE) annual conference, we presented a poster on identifying how many journals (in a sample of 446) gave specific instructions for handling data-images and how many treated images as illustrations.  CSE Poster link  Only 50% of journals had specific instructions on data-images. At the upcoming 2012 CSE conference (May 18-21), two sessions will cover data-images as part of research ethics.  Mary Sheetz, Research Consultant for Research Integrity Consulting (and former officer at the Office of Research Integrity), and Patty Baskin, Executive Editor of Neurology, will include data-image handling as one of several topics in the Sunday panel discussion “Demystifying Scientific Misconduct Issues through Instructions to Authors”, and Christina Bennett, PhD  ,Publications Ethics Manager, American Physiological Society, will include a section on the integrity of data-images in Saturday’s full-day course on Publication Ethics. It is encouraging to see these issues covered at a national meeting of editors and publishers.

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