A Critical Review of Line Graphs in Behavior Analytic Journals

Richard M. Kubina, Douglas E. Kostewicz, Kaitlyn M. Brennan, Seth A. King

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Visual displays such as graphs have played an instrumental role in psychology. One discipline relies almost exclusively on graphs in both applied and basic settings, behavior analysis. The most common graphic used in behavior analysis falls under the category of time series. The line graph represents the most frequently used display for visual analysis and subsequent interpretation and communication of experimental findings. Behavior analysis, like the rest of psychology, has opted to use non-standard line graphs. Therefore, the degree to which graphical quality occurs remains unknown. The current article surveys the essential structure and quality features of line graphs in behavioral journals. Four thousand three hundred and thirteen graphs from 11 journals served as the sample. Results of the survey indicate a high degree of deviation from standards of graph construction and proper labeling. A discussion of the problems associated with graphing errors, future directions for graphing in the field of behavior analysis, and the need for standards adopted for line graphs follows.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)583-598
Number of pages16
JournalEducational Psychology Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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