Busting the Myths: The Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession, 2014-15

The March-April issue of Academe consists of the Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession (commonly known as the "compensation survey.") The report, assessing trends in full-time faculty compensation over the past year, is available to all readers. The report's appendices and other supplementary materials are available here.

See this year's report, Busting the Myths: The Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession, 2014-2015.


Figure 2 is fine in the online version, where the various
kinds of expenditure are shown as distinct colors; but in
the printed version of Academe, where I encountered it,
these were five shades of gray, some of which were very
hard to distinguish. Either some of the colors should have
been rendered by stipling, cross-hatching, etc., or the
regions should have been marked with lines connecting
them to the descriptions.

I looked at Figure 4 as I turned to the page containing it,
and was baffled to see, for instance that Graduate Teaching
Assistants constituted 14.31% in the first bar, 44.67% in
the second bar, but only 12.16% in the "combined" bar. When
I finally reached the point where the figure was explained,
I was able to guess the explanation: the first two bars
partly overlapped, so if Graduate Teaching Assistants largely
fell within that overlap, they could constitute a smaller
percentage of the combined data than they did in either
category. But I think that figure could have been more
clearly marked, with "Primarily Instructional" expanded
to "Primary instructional faculty", and the label on the
second bar expanded to "Service at institutions mixing
instructional, research and public service", and with
a brace under those two bars with the words "Overlapping
information". In a figure in a journal, one has to expect
many readers to examine the figure before reaching the
relevant text. (Unless, perhaps, the figure is on a
page after that text.)

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