Choosing a Catchy Title for Your Scientific Manuscript
Ben Mudrak on Mon 8 Sep, 14
Business Development, Education and Content
Writing and translation, Academic writing, Scientific papers, Title, Best practices
of their manuscripts, but many authors consider the title to be the
most important part of any written work. In addition to catching the eye
of potential readers, the title is your first chance to make a good
impression on reviewers and journal editors. Here are some suggestions
for choosing the best title for your manuscript:
Keep it short
Lengthy titles will not be read completely, and therefore, some readers may avoid opening the full manuscript. Research by Paiva et al. shows that articles with shorter titles are viewed and cited more frequently. Knight and Ingersoll suggest that 16 words should be the maximum length of a title.
Leave out unnecessary “filler” words such as ‘effects of’, ‘comparison of’, or ‘a case of’
Do NOT use abbreviations to save space; all terms should be written out
If you include too little information, no one will read further. For
example, “Novel cancer biomarker” is far too broad to describe one
study. (Which type of cancer is being studied? Is this a new kind of biomarker or just a new example of one?) Make sure that you provide enough information in your title to make your study unique.
Choose a descriptive phrase, not a sentence
Questions should not be used as titles – provide the answer instead
In the majority of cases, writing a complete sentence simply
introduces unnecessary words. For example, “Red hens undergo spontaneous
chromosome rearrangement when exposed to ultraviolet light” (11 words) can be shortened to “Ultraviolet light-induced chromosome rearrangement in red hens” (7 words).
Do not use terms such as ‘novel’ or ‘first time’ unless you are absolutely sure no one has published anything similar. These terms are red flags for reviewers and editors.
Make sure you can deliver on your title. If you mention uncovering the
“molecular mechanism of chromosome rearrangement in red hens,” you
should provide a clear understanding of the mechanism from your results.
If your results do not reveal the complete mechanism, say “Protein X
contributes to chromosome rearrangement in red hens.” Everything in your
manuscript should relate back to the title.
The name of the species or breed involved in the study will almost
certainly be a key word that will catch a reader’s attention
Try to use the most common name for a particular gene or technique to reach the most readers
Place your most important terms at the beginning and end of the title,
as they will stand out to a reader who is skimming a table of contents
However, only mention the methods used if the technique is the primary focus of the paper. The study referenced above (Paiva et al., 2012) also shows that articles with titles focused on methods are read less frequently.
help! Try writing three or four options, and then ask a few fellow
researchers which title grabs their attention the best or which title
fits your data most closely. Taking the time to choose the strongest
title for your manuscript can make a good impression during peer review
and lead to more readers. We hope that this post will help you the next
time you are deciding on a title for your work!
Modified from version originally published on AJE's Expert Edge blog.
Choosing a Catchy Title for Your Scientific Manuscript | American Journal Experts (AJE)