1847: Dubious Study

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Revision as of 13:30, 7 June 2017 by (talk) (Biannual is twice a year, biennial is every other year)
Jump to: navigation, search
Dubious Study
Sounds fine. I looked up the Academy, and it says on their MySpace page that their journal is peer-viewed and downloaded biannually.
Title text: Sounds fine. I looked up the Academy, and it says on their MySpace page that their journal is peer-viewed and downloaded biannually.


This comic alludes to the growing industry in disreputable academic journals, many of whom accept articles of dubious merit for publication without rigorous peer review on payment of a fee. In an attempt to sound legitimate (and thus attract submissions), many such publishers publish journals whose names sound mistakably close to (if not identical to) established titles. Here, the National Academy of Proceedings is a play on the highly regarded academic title Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA

The title text implies that this (at present) fictional journal has a dubious online presence in the faded internet site MySpace, where the publishers make claims that may be true but are misleading: "peer-viewed" sounds similar to "peer-reviewed", the community-led process of establishing a paper's scientific integrity prior to publication, but in fact means only that scientists have viewed the content (as Cueball is now). Likewise, some journals might be "published biannually", whereas "downloaded biannually" implies that the journal is read only twice each year. Single articles in high-profile journals such as Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences would expect to receive hundreds to thousands of views in their first year of publication. The fictional journal publisher no doubt hopes that an inexperienced scientist may mistake these claims for meaningful statements of authority, and thus submit a paper (and eventually pay a fee for its publication).

The National Academy of Proceedings in fact sets itself apart from certain predatory journals by ensuring that the claims on its website are in fact factually accurate (if phrased to mislead article authors, particularly those with English as an additional language); some journals are openly dishonest on their websites.


[Megan is standing behind Cueball who is at a computer desk.]

Megan: Are you sure this study is legit?
Cueball: Sure, it says it was accepted for publication.
Megan: Where?
Cueball: Hmm... The National Academy of Proceedings.
Caption: If something is if formatted like a serious scientific paper, it can take me a while to realise it isn't one.

comment.png add a comment! ⋅ comment.png add a topic (use sparingly)! ⋅ Icons-mini-action refresh blue.gif refresh comments!


The name of the organisation is suggestive of legitimacy but rather vague. That would be a red flag for me. 06:01, 7 June 2017 (UTC)

"downloaded bi-annually" is misleadingly close to "released bi-annually" --JakubNarebski (talk) 07:03, 7 June 2017 (UTC)

but I would understand it as if the Journal was only downloaded twice within a year, i.e. only two people have downloaded (and maybe read) the Journal so far. 08:24, 7 June 2017 (UTC)

The National Academy of Proceedings sounds more like a legal document collection than a scientific journal to me. TheSandromatic (talk) 07:21, 7 June 2017 (UTC)

Although biannual conventionally means twice a year, its conflation with biennial (once every two years) is quite common. It would not be unthinkable that this confusion was intentional. ~~, 15:56, 7 June 2017 (UTC)

I would only think the confusion was intentional if it was the other way around. If Randall had used "biennially", I could believe the idea was to let people think it was "biannual" - twice a year - but it's even more pathetic, only every two years. To fit in with the rest (letting people read "peer-viewed" as "peer-reviewed" for example) :) - NiceGuy1 03:23, 9 June 2017 (UTC) I finally signed up! This comment is mine. NiceGuy1 (talk) 06:34, 13 June 2017 (UTC)

What size should the references be? 6 pixels is far too small. 11:08, 8 June 2017 (UTC)

When I saw it yesterday I could ALMOST read it, but I did end up having to zoom in. It's definitely bigger now, I say it's good now. It's bordering on too big for the gag. :) - NiceGuy1 03:23, 9 June 2017 (UTC) Also my comment! NiceGuy1 (talk) 06:40, 13 June 2017 (UTC)