A biology society is hiring three editors to screen images in submissions to its journal, Journal of Biological Chemistry — which we think is a great idea.
We don’t typically mention job ads on our site, except when they become relevant to cleaning up the literature — and with the latest job ad, the JBC joins the ranks of other journals that have taken a proactive stance against image problems, including manipulation. The publisher, American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB), plans to hire three “Technical Image Editors,” which will screen the images contained within the thousands of papers the journal publishes each year, many of which contain multiple panels and supplemental data.
Kaoru Sakabe, Data Integrity Manager at ASBMB, told us:
We hope that by screening images during pre-publication, we can catch these errors and help authors correct them. We believe that this pre-publication step will also improve the overall quality of the figures because the Technical Image Editors will help authors prepare their figures for print (i.e., correct resolution, size, etc).
This is one in a series of initiatives we’ve undertaken to educate our authors and the community (the Due Diligence column in ASBMB Today and our workshops on publishing reproducible research are other examples).
Here’s the job description:
The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology is seeking a Technical Image Editor to oversee screening images submitted to a fast-paced scientific journal. The Image Editor will screen art for adherence to journal policies, work with authors to obtain high-quality figures suitable for publication, document/track issues with manuscripts, and other administrative duties. The Image Editor will also examine images to detect alteration or manipulation.
Initially, the editors will focus on submissions to JBC, but ASBMB plans to expand the role to include its other journals, Molecular & Cellular Proteomics and the Journal of Lipid Research.
We have given the ASBMB kudos in the past for hiring someone focused on publication ethics, and increasing the amount of information they provide about individual retractions.
Sakabe cited data from the Journal of Cell Biology, an early adopter of image-screening policies, which has found that approximately 1 in 4 accepted papers contained some time of image change that violated the journal’s policies. Approximately 1% included manipulated images that had an impact on the paper’s findings.
As other publishers who screen images may tell you, this will likely put a small delay in the process, but we believe this will drastically reduce the number of Additions and Corrections we publish.
The publisher has already received applications, she added:
…we will keep the positions open until they are filled. There will be some lag time between hiring and screening as it will take up to 6 months for training.
Like Retraction Watch? Consider making a tax-deductible contribution to support our growth. You can also follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, add us to your RSS reader, sign up on our homepage for an email every time there’s a new post, or subscribe to our daily digest. Click here to review our Comments Policy. For a sneak peek at what we’re working on, click here.