Reporting of thermography parameters in biology: a systematic review of thermal imaging literature

R Soc Open Sci. 2018 Dec 5;5(12):181281. doi: 10.1098/rsos.181281. eCollection 2018 Dec.


Infrared (IR) thermography, where temperature measurements are made with IR cameras, has proven to be a very useful and widely used tool in biological science. Several thermography parameters are critical to the proper operation of thermal cameras and the accuracy of measurements, and these must usually be provided to the camera. Failure to account for these parameters may lead to less accurate measurements. Furthermore, the failure to provide information of parameter choices in reports may compromise appraisal of accuracy and replicate studies. In this review, we investigate how well biologists report thermography parameters. This is done through a systematic review of biological thermography literature that included articles published between years 2007 and 2017. We found that in primary biological thermography papers, which make some kind of quantitative temperature measurement, 48% fail to report values used for emissivity (an object's capacity to emit thermal radiation relative to a black body radiator), which is the minimum level of reporting that should take place. This finding highlights the need for life scientists to take into account and report key parameter information when carrying out thermography, in the future.

Keywords: emissivity; infrared; temperature measurement; thermal camera; thermography.

Publication types

  • Review

Associated data

  • figshare/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.4310756