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Images and figures make up an integral part of scientific papers. They are surprisingly the most overlooked. Writers must remember that figures are the first thing seen by the reader and have an impact on the reader’s decision of whether to read or not the paper.

Figure and images carry a lot of weight and because of that, their inclusion in the papers is a crucial decision in the hands of the editors. They are scrutinized very carefully to be very sure that in no way they are playing around with the data, manipulating it or falsifying it. All the leading journals have a stringent process for evaluating and assessing the submitted figures to make sure they are not tampering with data in any which way.

Though, rarely can we find writers playing fraud with the figures, the changes they make in the figures, even if they be harmless, should be very carefully manipulated so that they stay within the acceptable limits of the targeted journal.

  1. Whenever giving figures, make sure that if the journal require, always give the original file and if at all you make any alterations in the image, be able to justify it to satisfaction and also specifying the tools used for the same, very precisely.
  2. If you take help from an expert for alteration of images or figures. Choose one who has the knowledge about the acceptable changes in the academic field.
  3. For most of the journals, they accept adjustment that is purely aesthetic in nature and related to brightness, contrast, balance, clarity. But ensure that these changes are done uniformly and accurately throughout the image or the figure.
  4. All the features that are visible in the original image must be visible in the altered one also. In case of multiple images also, it is necessary to be sure that brightness and contrast is same fir both. As changes in one but no in another can have impact that can be surprisingly misleading.
  5. If the background of the image in hazy, it is ok to remove that haziness but do not make it so plain or clear that the reviewer may feel that you have disappeared some important components.
  6. Do not bring in many images into one field. There should always be a clear demarcation when clubbing of images is done.

Always know that knowing about the acceptable in the industry would always help to stay at bay from trouble.

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