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Reviewer Certification

6. Assessing Presentation

Figures, References, and Supporting Information


The figures in a paper (including images, graphs, tables, and charts) should support an understanding of the methods and results. Ask the following questions to evaluate figures presented throughout the manuscript:

  • Are all images of sufficient resolution that you are able to evaluate the data presented therein?
  • Do all figures contain clear, legible labels?
  • Are the X and Y-axes of all graphs labeled, with units clearly stated?
  • Are legends provided for graphs with multiple data series, and are the series sufficiently distinguishable?
  • Are all figures referenced and described in the text, and do they support the narrative?  Are any figures superfluous?
  • Do the captions concisely and accurately describe the content of the figures?

OSA’s ethical guidelines for publication state that:

“Fabrication of data is an unacceptable departure from the expected norms of scientific conduct, as is the selective reporting of data with the intent to mislead or deceive, as well as the theft of data or research results from others.”

You should thus be alert for any indication that a figure or image has been inappropriately manipulated.

Issues with images and figures should be noted in your written review, with specific reference to any problematic figures. 

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