Figures are no longer your data!

On March 16, 2009, Katrina Kelner, editor of Science Translational Medicine, Managing Editor, Research Journals, Science Magazine gave a talk at NIH which was titled “Publishing in Journals” (sponsored by the NIH Office of Intramural Training & Education). About 7 min into the talk she made a really important point regarding the use of figures: She emphasized that in the past the “printed figure was your data.” However, this was only true in the print publishing-only world. Now, with the advent of digital publishing, the figures in the paper serve only as examples or as an interpretation of the data because there is now the capacity to provide the actual data online for everybody to download and rerun the analysis. She also talks about image manipulations using Adobe Photoshop and explains what is allowed and what is not allowed. Dr. Kelner shows various examples of gel images/micrographs and what was done to them. Her description includes what are appropriate and what are inappropriate manipulations and what needs to be explicitly declared. Listen to the enhanced video podcast (mp4, 1:32) or see the overview information about the podcast.