Bridging imaging users to imaging analysis - A community survey

J Microsc. 2023 Sep 20. doi: 10.1111/jmi.13229. Online ahead of print.


The 'Bridging Imaging Users to Imaging Analysis' survey was conducted in 2022 by the Center for Open Bioimage Analysis (COBA), BioImaging North America (BINA) and the Royal Microscopical Society Data Analysis in Imaging Section (RMS DAIM) to understand the needs of the imaging community. Through multichoice and open-ended questions, the survey inquired about demographics, image analysis experiences, future needs and suggestions on the role of tool developers and users. Participants of the survey were from diverse roles and domains of the life and physical sciences. To our knowledge, this is the first attempt to survey cross-community to bridge knowledge gaps between physical and life sciences imaging. Survey results indicate that respondents' overarching needs are documentation, detailed tutorials on the usage of image analysis tools, user-friendly intuitive software, and better solutions for segmentation, ideally in a format tailored to their specific use cases. The tool creators suggested the users familiarise themselves with the fundamentals of image analysis, provide constant feedback and report the issues faced during image analysis while the users would like more documentation and an emphasis on tool friendliness. Regardless of the computational experience, there is a strong preference for 'written tutorials' to acquire knowledge on image analysis. We also observed that the interest in having 'office hours' to get an expert opinion on their image analysis methods has increased over the years. The results also showed less-than-expected usage of online discussion forums in the imaging community for solving image analysis problems. Surprisingly, we also observed a decreased interest among the survey respondents in deep/machine learning despite the increasing adoption of artificial intelligence in biology. In addition, the community suggests the need for a common repository for the available image analysis tools and their applications. The opinions and suggestions of the community, released here in full, will help the image analysis tool creation and education communities to design and deliver the resources accordingly.

Keywords: deep learning; image analysis; life science; physical science; survey.