Image Manipulation: World’s Strangest Case Ever Discovered?

Something's not right.

Something’s not right.

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:

Copied text.

Copied text.

This text appeared earlier in a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine:

The original text.

The original text.

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.

8 Responses to Image Manipulation: World’s Strangest Case Ever Discovered?

  1. emperor says:

    Photoshop? Microsoft paint. From Windows 95, or maybe newer.

  2. Susan Ariew says:

    Jeff, I never fail to be both appalled and amused by what you uncover each day and share with us on this blog.

  3. Schmuck says:

    The figure ligand states very clearly “Schematic diagram of eponymous cutaneous signs of retroperitoneal hemorrhage”.
    From Wikipedia and other dictionaries, schematic diagram means “represents the elements of a system using abstract, graphic symbols rather than realistic pictures”.
    I do not think they are trying to mislead us and I do not see any real problem with these images. Yes, we may dislike the Journal, but we also have to be honest brokers, otherwise we turn into vigilantes.

    • Schmuck says:

      But, the plagiarism part is bad enough

    • emperor says:

      Fair point. But clue for the more severe issue (plagiarism) remains unchanged.
      “Sajad Ahmad Salati” can hardly be the new name of “Afshin Farzaneh-Far”. With years of difference and lack of apparent connection between the authors it is quite likely that this is the result of plagiarism. And more often than not, if there’s one piece of plagiarism, there is also another.

      • Respected Jeffry Bell .. I am amused by your allegations .. Please be very kind to read the caption under the figure ..It is very clearly mentioned that it is a DIAGRAM ( in-fact made by a kid) , so there is no real need to create an Iraq like weapons of mass destruction drama by writing …Image Manipulation: World’s Strangest Case Ever Discovered?

  4. I invite you to have a look to

    The IMAM case. Additional investigation of a micropaleontological fraud, by Bruno GRANIER, Monique FEIST, Edward HENNESSEY, Ioan BUCUR & Baba SENOWBARI-DARYAN

    Abstract: Starting in 1996 and for almost a decade, M.M. Imam contributed to twelve papers published in international geological journals. These papers dealt with the micropaleontology and biostratigraphy of Cretaceous to Miocene series from Egypt and Libya. They were abundantly illustrated in order to support the author’s findings and interpretations. However most photographic illustrations (189 at least) were fabricated with material lifted from the publications of other authors, commonly from localities or stratigraphic intervals other than those indicated by M.M. Imam.

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