Once data-images were produced on film and processed in labs with protocol and certified staff. Now lab directors each have their own non-standardized practices and policies, with only the potential for institutional oversight and editorial and peer review to help them identify opportunities for error and research misconduct. Very few societies have adopted policies or practices, and those differ in content and detail.
Without national or international data-image management standards, it is up to each individual lab to decide upon protocol and best practices, with very little guidance if questions arise.
The case of Cardiff University’s investigations of publications produced by Dean Morgan’s lab was brought to our attention recently by a pseudonymous whistle-blower, Clare Francis, and we wonder whether such cases of mega-misconduct would be so frequently seen, if labs could turn to a set of standards which PIs, researchers and students could turn to.