Most of the time, it takes an expert to detect and confirm a case of image manipulation in a scholarly article. We found an exception, an apparent case that anyone could detect. Here’s the story: We received an inquiry about the publisher Intermedcentral, which is based in Hong Kong. The publisher has two journals:
In analyzing the two journals, I looked at the article “Eponymous cutaneous signs of retroperitoneal hemorrhage：A revisit” by Sajad Ahmad Salati of the Qassim College of Medicine in Saudi Arabia. The article appears in volume 2, number 1 (2013) of the Journal of Symptoms and Signs. This 2½ page article contains one figure, which consists of a panel of four pictures. It appears that there is some sort of strange image manipulation going on with the pictures, and it’s not explained in the article. We don’t understand what’s going on. Did the author use Photoshop to try and illustrate a medical condition, painting brick-colored blobs on the patient? The author does not explain the Photoshop additions to the pictures. Instead, he says the pictures show eccymoses (bruises).
Sadly, this paper also appears to contain unattributed text that originally appeared in an earlier publication. The passage begins at the end of page 58 and continues to the next page:
This text appeared earlier in a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine:
Publishers should check submitted articles for plagiarism before sending them through peer review. I have added the publisher Intermedcentral to my list of questionable publishers.