Digital Images Are Data: And Should Be Treated as Such

Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 931)

Abstract

The scientific community has become very concerned about inappropriate image manipulation. In journals that check figures after acceptance, 20–25% of the papers contained at least one figure that did not comply with the journal’s instructions to authors. The scientific press continues to report a small, but steady stream of cases of fraudulent image manipulation. Inappropriate image manipulation taints the scientific record, damages trust within science, and degrades science’s reputation with the general public. Scientists can learn from historians and photojournalists, who have provided a number of examples of attempts to alter or misrepresent the historical record. Scientists must remember that digital images are numerically sampled data that represent the state of a specific sample when examined with a specific instrument. These data should be carefully managed. Changes made to the original data need to be tracked like the protocols used for other experimental procedures. To avoid pitfalls, unexpected artifacts, and unintentional misrepresentation of the image data, a number of image processing guidelines are offered.

Key words

Digital image Ethics Manipulation Image processing Microscopy 

References

  1. 1.
    Rossner M, Held MJ, Bozuwa GP et al (1998) Managing editors and digital images: shutter diplomacy. CBE Views 21:187–192Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Rossner M, Yamada KM (2004) What’s in a picture? The temptation of image manipulation. J Cell Biol 166:11–15PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Rossner M (2006) How to guard against image fraud. Scientist 20:24Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Rossner M (2008) A false sense of security. J Cell Biol 183:573–574PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Marris E (2006) Should journals police scientific fraud? Nature 439:520–521PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Marcus A, Oransky I (2011) Stop the picture doctors. Lab Times 4–2011:35Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Editorial Nature Cell Biology (2011) Combating scientific misconduct. Nat Cell Biol 13:1Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Anderson C (1994) Easy-to-alter digital images raise fears of tampering. Science 263:317–318PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Taubes G (1994) Technology for turning seeing into believing. Science 263:318PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    McInnes SJ (2001) Is it real? Zool Anz 240:467–469CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Suvarna SK, Ansary MA (2001) Histopathology and the ‘third great lie’. When is an image not a scientifically authentic image? Histopathology 39:441–446PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Krueger J (2002) Forensic examination of questioned scientific images. Account Res Policies Qual Assur 9:105–125CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Pritt BS, Gibson PC, Cooper K (2003) Digital imaging guidelines for pathology: a proposal for general and academic use. Adv Anat Pathol 10:96–100PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Editorial Nature Cell Biology (2004) Gel slicing and dicing: a recipe for disaster. Nat Cell Biol 6:275CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Editorial Nature Cell Biology (2004) Images to reveal all? Nat Cell Biol 6:909CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Guneri P, Akdeniz BG (2004) Fraudulent management of digital endodontic images. Int Endod J 37:214–220PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Krueger J (2005) Confronting manipulation of digital images in science. Office Res Integr Newslett 13–3:8–9Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Pearson H (2005) Image manipulation: CSI: cell biology. Nature 434:952–953PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Nature Cell Biology Editorial (2006) Beautification and fraud. Nat Cell Biol 8:101–102CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Nature Cell Biology Editorial (2006) Appreciating data: warts, wrinkles and all. Nat Cell Biol 8:203Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Abraham E (2007) Update on the AJRCCM—2007. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 175:207–208CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Nature Cell Biology Editorial (2007) Imagine. Nat Cell Biol 9:355Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Krueger J (2009) Incidences of ORI cases involving falsified images. Office Res Integr Newslett 17–4:2–3Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Cromey DW (2010) Avoiding twisted pixels: ethical guidelines for the appropriate use and manipulation of scientific digital images. Sci Eng Ethics 16:639–667PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Hwang WS, Ryu YJ, Park JH et al (2004) Evidence of a pluripotent human embryonic stem cell line derived from a cloned blastocyst. Science 303:1669–1674PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Department of Health and Human Services (2005) Public Health Service Policies on Research Misconduct; Final Rule, (Public Health Service, Ed.) 42 CFR Parts 50 and 93. http://www.ori.dhhs.gov/documents/42_cfr_parts_50_and_93_2005.pdf. Accessed 16 Sept 2011
  27. 27.
    Office of Research Integrity. Definition of Research Misconduct, http://ori.hhs.gov/misconduct/definition_misconduct.shtml. Accessed 16 Sept 2011
  28. 28.
    National Academies (U.S.). Committee on Science Engineering and Public Policy (2009) On being a scientist: a guide to responsible conduct in research, 3rd edn. National Academies Press, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Young JR (2008) Journals find fakery in many images submitted to support research. Chron Higher Ed, Washington, DC. http://chronicle.com/article/Journals-Find-Fakery-in-Man/846/. Accessed 16 Sept 2011
  30. 30.
    Couzin J (2006) Scientific publishing. Don’t pretty up that picture just yet. Science 314:1866–1868PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Abraham E, Adler KB, Shapiro SD et al (2008) The ATS journals’ policy on image manipulation. Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol 39:499PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Shattil SJ (2007) A digital exam for hematologists. Blood 109:2275CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Caelleigh AS, Miles KD (2011) Biomedical Journals’ Standards for Digital Images in Biomedical Articles (presented at the Council of Science Editors annual meeting). http://scienceimageintegrity.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/CSEPoster-April20-FINAL-AC-Edit1.ppt. Accessed 16 Sept 2011
  34. 34.
    Farid H (2011) Photo tampering throughout history, Fourandsix Technologies. http://www.fourandsix.com/photo-tampering-history/. Accessed 16 Sept 2011
  35. 35.
    King D (2011) The commissar vanishes. The Newseum, Washington, DC. http://www.newseum.org/berlinwall/commissar_vanishes/. Accessed 16 Sept 2011
  36. 36.
    Oberg J (2011) Soviet Space Propaganda: Doctored Cosmonaut Photos, Wired.com, Condé Nast Digital. http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/04/soviet-space-propaganda/?pid=1177. Accessed 16 Sept 2011
  37. 37.
    Mackey R (2011) Newspaper ‘Regrets’ Erasing Hillary Clinton. In: The Lede. New York Times, New York. http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/05/10/newspaper-regrets-erasing-hillary-clinton/. Accessed 16 Sept 2011
  38. 38.
    Orwell G (1949) Nineteen eighty-four, a novel. Secker & Warburg, LondonGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Franklin D (2011) Roosevelt, Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fdr. Accessed 16 Sept 2011
  40. 40.
    Meltzer B (1996) Digital photography: a question of ethics. Lead Learn Technol 23–4:18–21Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Stanleigh S (1995) Where do we re-draw the line?, In: Ryerson Review of Journalism. Ryerson University School of Journalism, Toronto, Canada. http://www.rrj.ca/m3693/. Accessed 16 Sept 2011
  42. 42.
    Carmody D (1994) Time responds to criticism over Simpson cover. New York Times Company, New York. http://www.nytimes.com/1994/06/25/us/time-responds-to-criticism-over-simpson-cover.html. Accessed 16 Sept 2011
  43. 43.
    Glater JD (2005) Martha Stewart Gets New Body in Newsweek. In: New York Times. New York Times Company, New York. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/03/business/media/03mag.html. Accessed 16 Sept 2011
  44. 44.
    National Press Photographer’s Association (2005) NPPA Calls Newsweek’s Martha Stewart Cover “A Major Ethical Breach”. http://www.nppa.org/news_and_events/news/2005/03/newsweek.html. Accessed 16 Sept 2011
  45. 45.
    Nizza M, Lyon PJ (2008) In an Iranian Image, a Missile Too Many. In: New York Times. New York Times Company, New York. http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/07/10/in-an-iranian-image-a-missile-too-many/. Accessed 16 Sept 2011
  46. 46.
    Nature (2007) Cover Image. Nature 448(7153)Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    Sincich L (2007) Cover story may obscure the plane truth. Nature 449:139PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    Russ JC (2004) Seeing the Scientific Image (parts 1–3). Proc R Microsc Soc 39(2):97–114; (113):179–194; (114):267–281Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    Ioannidis JP (2005) Why most published research findings are false. PLoS Med 2:e124PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. 50.
    Hyde DM, Tyler NK, Plopper CG (2007) Morphometry of the respiratory tract: avoiding the sampling, size, orientation, and reference traps. Toxicol Pathol 35:41–48PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    McNamara G (2006) Crusade for Publishing Better Light Micrographs—Light Microscope Publication Guidelines. http://home.earthlink.net/~geomcnamara/CrusadeBetterMicrographs.htm. Accessed 16 Sept 2011
  52. 52.
    North AJ (2006) Seeing is believing? A beginners’ guide to practical pitfalls in image acquisition. J Cell Biol 172:9–18PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    Stack RF, Bayles CJ, Girard AM et al (2011) Quality assurance testing for modern optical imaging systems. Microsc Microanal 17:598–606PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. 54.
    Supported Formats (2011) In: Bio-Formats. Laboratory for Optical and Computational Instrumentation (LOCI), University of Wisconsin-Madison. http://loci.wisc.edu/bio-formats/formats. Accessed 16 Sept 2011
  55. 55.
    Pawley JB (2006) Points, pixels, and gray levels: digitizing image data. In: Pawley JB (ed) Handbook of biological confocal microscopy, 3rd edn. Springer Science + Business Media LLC, New York, NY, pp 59–79CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. 56.
    Spring KR, Parry-Hill MJ, Long JC et al (2006) Spatial resolution in digital images. http://micro.magnet.fsu.edu/primer/java/digitalimaging/processing/spatialresolution/. Accessed 16 Sept 2011
  57. 57.
    Spring KR, Fellers TJ, Davidson MW (2006) Resolution and contrast in confocal microscopy. http://www.olympusconfocal.com/theory/resolutionintro.html. Accessed 16 Sept 2011
  58. 58.
    New York Times written in (1918) Why movie wheels turn backward; an explanation of the illusion and a suggested method for correcting it. In: Sunday (ed) New York Times. New York Times, New York. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9A05E6DA143EE433A25752C2A9619C946996D6CF. Accessed 16 Sept 2011
  59. 59.
    Purves D, Paydarfar JA, Andrews TJ (1996) The wagon wheel illusion in movies and reality. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 93:3693–3697PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. 60.
    Pawley JB (2006) Fundamental limits in confocal microscopy. In: Pawley JB (ed) Handbook of biological confocal microscopy, 3rd edn. Springer Science + Business Media LLC, New York, NY, pp 20–42CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. 61.
    Corporation M (1997) The Microsoft Press® computer dictionary, 3rd edn. Microsoft Press®, Redmond, WAGoogle Scholar
  62. 62.
    Burger W, Burge MJ (2008) Histograms. In: Texts in Computer Science: Digital image processing. Springer, London, pp 37–52Google Scholar
  63. 63.
    National Science Foundation (2011) Chapter II—Proposal Preparation Instructions: Data Management Plan. http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/policydocs/pappguide/nsf11001/gpg_2.jsp#dmp. Accessed 16 Sep 2011
  64. 64.
    National Science Foundation (2011) Dissemination and sharing of research results. http://www.nsf.gov/bfa/dias/policy/dmp.jsp. Accessed 16 Sept 2011
  65. 65.
    Center for Bio-Image Informatics (2011) University of California—Santa Barbara. Bisque Database. http://www.bioimage.ucsb.edu/bisque. Accessed 16 Sept 2011
  66. 66.
    Open Microscopy Environment (2011) http://www.openmicroscopy.org/site. Accessed 16 Sept 2011
  67. 67.
    Blau J (2006) Do burned CDs have a short life span?, PC Magazine. http://www.pcworld.com/article/124312/do_burned_cds_have_a_short_life_span.html. Accessed 16 Sept 2011
  68. 68.
    Searls DB (2005) Data integration: challenges for drug discovery. Nat Rev Drug Discov 4:45–58PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. 69.
    Alberts B (2010) Promoting scientific standards. Science 327:12PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. 70.
    Melino G (2010) Policy and procedures on scientific misconduct. Cell Death Differ 17:1805–1806PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. 71.
    Committee on Ensuring the Utility and Integrity of Research Data in a Digital Age, National Academiy of Sciences (2009) Ensuring the integrity, accessibility, and stewardship of research data in the digital age. National Academies Press, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  72. 72.
    Tengowski MW (2004) Image compression in morphometry studies requiring 21 CFR Part 11 compliance: procedure is key with TIFFs and various JPEG compression strengths. Toxicol Pathol 32:258–263PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. 73.
    Food and Drug Administration (2010) CFR—Code of Federal Regulations Title 21, Food and Drug Administration. http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/cfrsearch.cfm?cfrpart=11. Accessed 16 Sept 2011
  74. 74.
    Wikipedia (2011) Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_Insurance_Portability_and_Accountability_Act. Accessed 16 Sept 2011
  75. 75.
    Scientific Working Group Imaging Technology (2004) Best Practices for Documenting Image Enhancement, section 11 (Version 1.2 2004.03.04)Google Scholar
  76. 76.
    Scientific Working Group Imaging Technology (2010) Best Practices for Documenting Image Enhancement, section 11 (Version 1.3 2010.01.15). http://www.theiai.org/guidelines/swgit/guidelines/section_11_v1-3.pdf. Accessed 16 Sept 2011
  77. 77.
    Open Microscopy Environment (2011) OME-TIFF Overview and Rationale. http://www.ome-xml.org/wiki/OmeTiff. Accessed 16 Sept 2011
  78. 78.
    MacKenzie JM, Burke MG, Carvalho T, Eades A (2006) Ethics and digital imaging. Microsc Today 14–1:40–41Google Scholar
  79. 79.
    Wikipedia (2011) Tagged Image File Format. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tagged_Image_File_Format. Accessed 16 Sept 2011
  80. 80.
    Guo H (2007) Retraction: Guo H. Complication of central venous catheterization. N Engl J Med 2007; 356: e2. N Engl J Med 356:1075PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. 81.
    Le HQ, Chua SJ, Koh YW et al (2010) Growth of single crystal ZnO nanorods on GaN using an aqueous solution method (Retraction of vol 87, 101908, 2005). Appl Phys Lett 97:239903CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. 82.
    (2011) Retraction: Jiang S, Alberich-Jorda M, Zagozdzon R, Parmar K, Fu Y, Mauch P, Banu N, Makriyannis A, Tenen DG, Avraham S, Groopman JE, Avraham HK. Cannabinoid receptor 2 and its agonists mediate hematopoiesis and hematopoietic stem and progenitor cell mobilization. Blood 2011;117(3):827–838, Blood. doi:10.1182/blood-2011-06-363325 Google Scholar
  83. 83.
    Miano JM (2010) What is truth? Standards of scientific integrity in American Heart Association Journals. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol 30:1–4PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. 84.
    Editorial N (2006) Not picture-perfect. Nature 439:891–892Google Scholar
  85. 85.
    Kaiser J (2009) Scientific publishing. Data integrity report sends journals back to the drawing board. Science 325:381PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. 86.
    Cromey DW (2001) Digital Imaging: Ethics. http://swehsc.pharmacy.arizona.edu/exppath/micro/digimage_ethics.php. Accessed 16 Sept 2011
  87. 87.
    Vollmer SH (2008) Online Learning Tool for Research Integrity and Image Processing. http://www.uab.edu/researchintegrityandimages/. Accessed 16 Sept 2011
  88. 88.
    Miles KD (2011) Integrity of Science Image Data Issues and emerging standards—Audit Tutorial, PI Outcomes. http://scienceimageintegrity.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/Audit_Tutorial.pptx. Accessed 16 Sept 2011
  89. 89.
    Microscopy Society of America (2003) Position on ethical digital imaging. Microsc Today 116:61Google Scholar
  90. 90.
    Journal of Cell Biology (2011) Instructions for Authors. http://jcb.rupress.org/site/misc/ifora.xhtml. Accessed 16 Sept 2011
  91. 91.
    Nature (2009) Editorial Policy: Image integrity and standards. http://www.nature.com/authors/policies/image.html. Accessed 16 Sept 2011
  92. 92.
    Hall PA, Wixon J, Poulsom R (2011) The Journal of Pathology’s approach to publication ethics and misconduct. J Pathol 223:447–449PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  93. 93.
    Cromey DW (2002) Potentially the most dangerous dialog box in Adobe Photoshop™. http://swehsc.pharmacy.arizona.edu/exppath/resources/pdf/Photoshop_Image_Size_dialog_box.pdf. Accessed 16 Sept 2011
  94. 94.
    Bell AA, Brauers J, Kaftan JN et al (2009) High dynamic range microscopy for cytopathological cancer diagnosis. Sel Top Signal Process J IEEE 3:170–184CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  95. 95.
    Valdecasas AG, Marshall D, Becerra JM, Terrero JJ (2001) On the extended depth of focus algorithms for bright field microscopy. Micron 32:559–569PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  96. 96.
    Russ JC (1998) The image processing handbook, 3rd edn. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FLGoogle Scholar
  97. 97.
    Zwier JM, Van Rooij GJ, Hofstraat JW, Brakenhoff GJ (2004) Image calibration in fluorescence microscopy. J Microsc 216:15–24PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  98. 98.
    Pawley JB (2000) The 39 steps: a cautionary tale of quantitative 3-D fluorescence microscopy. Biotechniques 28(884–886):888Google Scholar
  99. 99.
    Bolte S, Cordelières FP (2006) A guided tour into subcellular colocalization analysis in light microscopy. J Microsc 224:213–232PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  100. 100.
    Taylor CR, Levenson RM (2006) Quantification of immunohistochemistry—issues concerning methods, utility and semiquantitative assessment II. Histopathology 49:411–424PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  101. 101.
    Bernardo V, Lourenco SQ, Cruz R et al (2009) Reproducibility of immunostaining quantification and description of a new digital image processing procedure for quantitative evaluation of immunohistochemistry in pathology. Microsc Microanal 15:353–365PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  102. 102.
    (2011) PNG (Portable Network Graphics) Specification, Version 1.2–12. Appendix: Rationale. http://www.libpng.org/pub/png/spec/1.2/PNG-Credits.html. Accessed 16 Sept 2011
  103. 103.
    Rossner M, O’Donnell R (2004) The JCB will let your data shine in RGB. J Cell Biol 164:11–13PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  104. 104.
    Waters JC (2009) Accuracy and precision in quantitative fluorescence microscopy. J Cell Biol 185:1135–1148PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  105. 105.
    Cidlowski JA, Haworth M (2008) Digital image integrity and RIGOUR. Mol Endocrinol 22:225PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  106. 106.
    Pearson H (2006) Forensic software traces tweaks to images. Nature 439:520–521PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  107. 107.
    Powell K (2006) Your own desktop crime lab. Nat Med 12:493PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  108. 108.
    Schoenwolf GC (2005) Lost in (color) space? Dev Dyn 234:243PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  109. 109.
    Pesanelli EJ (2005) Processing color figures: that was then, this is now. Physiol Genomics 22:127CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  110. 110.
    Neill US (2006) Stop misbehaving! J Clin Invest 116:1740–1741PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  111. 111.
    Editorial Nature Cell Biology (2009) Accurately reporting research. Nat Cell Biol 11:1045CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  112. 112.
    Franklin D (2011) Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum. Roosevelt Facts and Figures. http://www.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/facts.html. Accessed 16 Sept 2011
  113. 113.
    (2010) Photoshop gone wrong: famous examples of doctored images. The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/gallery/2010/09/22/GA2010092202105.html. Accessed 16 Sept 2011
  114. 114.
    Interpolate (2011) Merriam Webster.com. http://www.merriam-webster.com/help/citing.htm. Accessed 16 Sept 2011
  115. 115.
    Rasband WS (1997–2011) ImageJ, U. S. National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USAGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center, Arizona Research Labs - Division of Biotechnology, Arizona Cancer CenterUniversity of Arizona College of MedicineTusconUSA

Personalised recommendations