For over three decades, the importance of taxon sampling curves for comparative biodiversity studies has been repeatedly stated. However, many entomologists (both within Canada and worldwide) continue to publish studies without standardizing their data to take sampling effort into account. We present a case study to illustrate the importance of such standardization, using the collection of spiders (Araneae) by pitfall traps as model data. Data were analyzed using rarefaction to represent one example of a taxon sampling curve, and by a variety of traditional diversity indices to describe alpha diversity. Raw species richness and single-index diversity measures (Shannon–Wiener, Simpson's, and Fisher's α) provided contradictory results. Rarefied species richness standardized to the number of individuals collected enabled more accurate comparisons of diversity and revealed when sampling was insufficient. Focusing on arthropods occurring in forested ecosystems, we also examined the use of taxon sampling curves in current literature by reviewing 133 published articles from 14 journals. Only 26% of the published articles in our review used a taxon sampling curve, and raw species richness and the Shannon–Wiener index of diversity were the most commonly used estimates. There is clearly a need to modify how alpha diversity is measured and compared for arthropod biodiversity studies. We recommend the abandonment of both raw species richness and single-index measures of diversity, and reiterate the need to use rarefaction or a related technique that allows for meaningful comparisons of species richness while taking into account sampling effort.