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Revision as of 03:05, 4 September 2013

Welcome to the explain xkcd wiki!

We have an explanation for all 1 xkcd comics, and only 0 (0%) are incomplete. Help us finish them!

Latest comic

Go to this comic explanation

Scientific Paper Graph Quality
The worst are graphs with qualitative, vaguely-labeled axes and very little actual data.
Title text: The worst are graphs with qualitative, vaguely-labeled axes and very little actual data.

Explanation

Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Created in a PowerPoint. Do NOT delete this tag too soon.


Microsoft Paint was first introduced in 1985, and Microsoft PowerPoint debuted in 1990, allowing for the easy creation of graphs by computer users. The comic suggests that these easy-to-use tools are responsible for decreasing the overall quality of graphs, presumably by enabling a large number of inexperienced designers.

Critics of PowerPoint, such as Edward Tufte, have argued that the software is ill-suited for reporting scientific analyses. Many scientific journals nowadays explicitly forbid the use of PowerPoint in their instructions for authors.

The title text states that among the bad quality graphs, the ones "with qualitative, vaguely-labeled axes and very little actual data" are the worst. While this may indicate that the problem with PowerPoint era graphs is that they seem to focus on getting the point across (qualitative as in "you get the idea") over accuracy (little actual data), this graph fits precisely into this category. The axis labeled "good" and "bad" is entirely qualitative, and it is doubtful that any actual data was used to make the graph. Its quality is doubtful, and it might represent more of an impression, or opinion, than an actual fact. This is somewhat self-deprecating, as the comic features exactly that sort of lambasted graph.

Transcript

Ambox notice.png This transcript is incomplete. Please help editing it! Thanks.
General quality of charts and
graphs in scientific papers
[A graph is shown with the y-axis on the origo labeled "bad", on the arrowhead labeled "good", and the x-axis being a timeline labeled with decades from 1950s to 2010s.]
[The pre-1993 and post-2015 parts are white, with increasing quality before 1990 and after 2015. The 1993-2015 part indicates bad quality and is highlighted in grey, labeled "PowerPoint/MSPaint era".]


Is this out of date? Clicking here will fix that.

New here?

Last 7 days (Top 10)

Lots of people contribute to make this wiki a success. Many of the recent contributors, listed above, have just joined. You can do it too! Create your account here.

You can read a brief introduction about this wiki at explain xkcd. Feel free to sign up for an account and contribute to the wiki! We need explanations for comics, characters, themes, memes and everything in between. If it is referenced in an xkcd web comic, it should be here.

  • List of all comics contains a table of most recent xkcd comics and links to the rest, and the corresponding explanations. There are incomplete explanations listed here. Feel free to help out by expanding them!
  • If you see that a new comic hasn't been explained yet, you can create it: Here's how.
  • We sell advertising space to pay for our server costs. To learn more, go here.

Rules

Don't be a jerk. There are a lot of comics that don't have set in stone explanations; feel free to put multiple interpretations in the wiki page for each comic.

If you want to talk about a specific comic, use its discussion page.

Please only submit material directly related to —and helping everyone better understand— xkcd... and of course only submit material that can legally be posted (and freely edited). Off-topic or other inappropriate content is subject to removal or modification at admin discretion, and users who repeatedly post such content will be blocked.

If you need assistance from an admin, post a message to the Admin requests board.

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