Abstract The production of thematic maps, such as those depicting land cover, using an image classification is one of the most common applications of remote sensing. Considerable research has been directed at the various components of the mapping process, including the assessment of accuracy. This paper briefly reviews the background and methods of classification accuracy assessment that are commonly used and recommended in the research literature. It is, however, evident that the research community does not universally adopt the approaches that are often recommended to it, perhaps a reflection of the problems associated with accuracy assessment, and typically fails to achieve the accuracy targets commonly specified. The community often tends to use, unquestioningly, techniques based on the confusion matrix for which the correct application and interpretation requires the satisfaction of often untenable assumptions (e.g., perfect coregistration of data sets) and the provision of rarely conveyed information (e.g., sampling design for ground data acquisition). Eight broad problem areas that currently limit the ability to appropriately assess, document, and use the accuracy of thematic maps derived from remote sensing are explored. The implications of these problems are that it is unlikely that a single standardized method of accuracy assessment and reporting can be identified, but some possible directions for future research that may facilitate accuracy assessment are highlighted.