AI software helps bust image fraud in academic papers

Enlarge / Colorized photograph image of a Western blot check end result.

Scientific publishers such because the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) and Taylor & Francis have begun trying to detect fraud in academic paper submissions with an AI image-checking program known as Proofig, reviews The Register. Proofig, a product of an Israeli agency of the identical title, goals to assist use “synthetic intelligence, pc imaginative and prescient and image processing to evaluation image integrity in scientific publications,” based on the corporate’s web site.

During a trial that ran from January 2021 to May 2022, AACR used Proofig to display screen 1,367 papers accepted for publication, based on The Register. Of these, 208 papers required creator contact to clear up points corresponding to mistaken duplications, and 4 papers had been withdrawn.

In specific, many journals need assistance detecting image duplication fraud in Western blots, that are a particular type of protein-detection imagery consisting of line segments of varied widths. Subtle variations in a blot’s look can translate to dramatically completely different conclusions about check outcomes, and plenty of circumstances of academic fraud have seen unscrupulous researchers duplicate, crop, stretch, and rotate Western blots to make it seem like they’ve extra (or completely different) knowledge than they actually do. Detecting duplicate photographs will be tedious work for human eyes, which is why some companies like Proofig and ImageTwin, a German agency, are trying to automate the method.

But each Proofig’s and ImageTwin’s options presently have vital limitations, based on The Register. First, human experience continues to be essential to interpret detection outcomes and scale back false positives. Second, Proofig is presently costly attributable to its computationally intensive course of, costing $99 to investigate 120 photographs for a person (the journals have negotiated cheaper charges). Currently, each excessive price and the requirement for guide oversight is conserving the journals from analyzing each paper on the submission stage. Instead, they’ve been reserving its use for later in the publication course of.

Academic fraud, whereas unusual, can nonetheless have a devastating impact on a publication’s repute. Between the large quantity of academic papers being revealed as we speak and up to date revelations about image fraud in extensively cited Alzheimer’s analysis, the sphere appears ripe for pc imaginative and prescient instruments that may help people with fraud detection. Their general effectiveness—and the way extensively they grow to be adopted—continues to be a creating story.

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