A few professors from the National Taiwan University were caught manipulating experimental data in their publications on several prestigious journals this year. They were accused of using the same image in different experiments, and the papers were either retracted by the authors, or removed by the journals.

This kind of plagiarism is not very rare in biology. What are some key points to spot plagiarized scientific pictures?

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    As it stands, your question looks a lot like "let's discuss this issue". This kind of questions is not encouraged here; we prefer well-defined questions with a clear answer. I encourage you to edit it to improve it. Dec 9, 2016 at 14:22
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    "How can we avoid reading scientific publications?" Hmm. I suppose that probably isn't what you meant to say. Click where it says "Edit" and see if you can make your question clearer. Dec 10, 2016 at 0:06
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    I took the liberty of removing the question “How can we avoid reading problematic scientific publications, especially in biology ?”, as it was one question too many (we prefer one question per question) and not really anwerable: If anybody could spot problematic scientific publications without reading them, the world would be a better place. The only thing that we can avoid is reading problematic publications without noticing.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Dec 10, 2016 at 11:34
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    This is impressive editing, @Wrzlprmft. Well done.
    – user65587
    Dec 10, 2016 at 11:36
  • When you write "problematic", do you mean "plagiarized"? If so, please write "plagiarized". If not, then your question is very unclear. Dec 10, 2016 at 18:35

1 Answer 1


i once saw a presentation by a journal editor about what they do to check on modified, altered data.

as you can guess, they ask for the raw data, and check imagies with photoshop.

a very easy way to spot altered pictures is to blow up contrast and brightness, which tends to highlights cropped and modified areas.

obviously people are getting smarter at that too, but if the goal is to deceive, i think at some point it will be difficult to tell what's fake and what's not.

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