Titles for research papers should function almost like newspaper headlines; they must attract attention from a particular audience in order to deliver a comprehensible description about the content below it. Too often, writers fail to put enough thought into a title, resulting in vague or unfocused descriptions that deceive or confuse potential readers. Along with the abstract, titles are what initially catch the eyes of people searching for content within your field. And for citation searchers, your paper’s title is amongst limited information. Superior research can be largely undiscovered without a clear and appealing title. Below, we’ve identified five tips on how to draw more attention to your research papers with an impeccable title.
1. Shoot for Clear, but Comprehensive
What will the reader get out of your paper? Revealing the essence of your manuscript immediately in the title will make its purpose clear and your objective understandable. You’ll want your title to be specific about the research you accomplished, highlighting for readers what findings have been made and what research process you followed.
This enables your audience to continue reading with a more profound comprehension, and avoids misleading them. Make sure your title describes the specific topic, the study method and scope, your primary results, and any samples involved. It’s often effective to work backwards, pointing to your results first. Take this title for instance:
“Knowledge Sharing Promotes Workplace Communication: A Case Study on Software Innovation in Iran”
Identify what was investigated, how the research unfolded, and who it involved. The trick is to not only avoid being vague, but also being too verbose.
2. Only Include What’s Necessary
Make the effort to pare down your title to only the fundamental parts. The word maximum for titles has been debated, but generally, aim to keep it below 13 words in length. Our best piece of advice is to draft a few variants of your title. Experiment with using different phrases and syntax as a whole. Once a few versions have been written, you can read over them, see where redundant or useless words are being used, and also which versions are simpler and more to-the-point. Frequently, you’ll be able to come up with the best title for your paper just by combining the greatest parts of different versions you drafted.
3. Keep It Readable
A key part of staying concise with your title is evading the temptation to use too much jargon. You want a title that’s researchable and easily understood even by those who may be a novice researcher in your field of study. Using complex, industry-specific terms, abbreviations, and even just hard-to-grasp or uncommon phrases will deter readers. All in all, words that do not help the reader understand the purpose of your paper should be left out of your title.
Explore how established and widely-cited researchers in the same field are crafting their titles. Skim these and look for ones that capture your attention and interest. It’s acceptable to mimic the structure of appealing titles, but using word usage verbatim will look suspicious and will probably negatively affect your citation impact.
5. Meet Any Requirements
Just like the page layout, abstract, headings, body text, citations, etc., your manuscript’s title will most likely need to meet certain standards before it will be considered suitable for publication. For example, many publishers require titles to adhere to APA style: no more than 12 words in length, title case, centered vertically and horizontally, no abbreviations or contractions, and no special formatting apart from bolding (i.e. italics, underline, etc.). If you are submitting to an academic journal or scholarly book project, be sure to double-check that your title meets any styling requirements. Sometimes, publishers mandate a character limit, or disallow certain punctuation marks. Moreover, be prepared for publishers to modify your titles slightly. Think about it; the title is what’s used to market your paper, so it must be virtually perfect.
It’s been proven; papers with thought-provoking and descriptive research titles draw readers in. Don’t neglect the title and cause readers to skip over your manuscript that contains all of your carefully prepared research. Using our five tips, incorporate some time when drafting your papers to nail out a clear, comprehensible, and overall attractive title.