All digital images in manuscripts will be scrutinized for any indication of manipulation that is inconsistent with the following guidelines. Any proved manipulation may result in withdrawal of a manuscript, rejection, or retraction of a published article.
- No specific feature within an image may be enhanced, obscured, moved, removed, or introduced.
- The grouping of images from different parts of the same gel, or from different gels, fields, or exposures, must be made explicit by the arrangement of the figure (i.e. using dividing lines) and in the text of the figure legend.
- Adjustments of brightness, contrast, or color balance are acceptable if they are applied to every pixel in the image and as long as they do not obscure, eliminate, or misrepresent any information present in the original, including the background. Non-linear adjustments (e.g. changes to gamma settings) must be disclosed in the figure legend.
The corresponding author must reply to any question raised during or after the peer review process and they are committed to send original data immediately upon request. Cases of suspected misconduct will be reported to the author(s)’ institution(s).
COPE flowchart about Image Manipulation
The image manipulation flowchart offers guidance in steps to take when there is a suspicion of image manipulation, including who to contact and when to consider a retraction or correction.
note: This guideline is written partly from a similar guideline from BMC.