Graphical integrity issues in open access publications: Detection and patterns of proportional ink violations

Han Zhuang, Tzu Yang Huang, Daniel E. Acuna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Academic graphs are essential for communicating complex scientific ideas and results. To ensure that these graphs truthfully reflect underlying data and relationships, visualization researchers have proposed several principles to guide the graph creation process. However, the extent of violations of these principles in academic publications is unknown. In this work, we develop a deep learning-based method to accurately measure violations of the proportional ink principle (AUC = 0.917), which states that the size of shaded areas in graphs should be consistent with their corresponding quantities. We apply our method to analyze a large sample of bar charts contained in 300K figures from open access publications. Our results estimate that 5% of bar charts contain proportional ink violations. Further analysis reveals that these graphical integrity issues are significantly more prevalent in some research fields, such as psychology and computer science, and some regions of the globe. Additionally, we find no temporal and seniority trends in violations. Finally, apart from openly releasing our large annotated dataset and method, we discuss how computational research integrity could be part of peer-review and the publication processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1009650
JournalPLoS computational biology
Volume17
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics

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