Terse Titles Are Cited More Often Than Longer Ones
comparing the length of 20,000 scientific paper titles with the number
of times other scientists cited them, researchers determined that
brevity is best.
which allows just 140 characters to speak your piece. Now scientists,
it seems, could learn a lesson from the power of the tweet. Because a
new study shows that scientific papers with shorter titles receive more
citations. The article, tidily entitled “The advantage of short paper
titles,” is in the Royal Society journal Open Science. [Adrian Letchford, Helen Susannah Moat, Tobias Preis, The advantage of short paper titles]
This is Scientific American’s 60-Second Science. I’m Karen Hopkin. Got a minute?
Scientific careers can be made or waylaid on the basis of publications.
And the success of individual articles is often determined by how
frequently those papers are referenced in other publications. But what
makes a paper popular?
Previous studies of the length of an article’s title have yielded
mixed findings, perhaps due to relatively small sample sizes. So
researchers decided to cast a wider net. Fishing in an academic database
called Scopus, they pulled out the most highly cited 20,000 papers for
each of the seven years from 2007 to 2013.
And they found that papers with terser titles top the citation count.
Even when the researchers took into account the journal in which the
publication appeared—some have stricter restrictions on title length
than do others—the findings held true.
Of course title length isn’t everything. The article’s content and
subject area obviously attract different levels of interest. But a
snappy title can’t hurt. I mean, which would you rather read, an article
from The Journal of Immunology with the title:
“Exposure of phosphatidylserine on the surface of apoptotic lymphocytes triggers specific recognition and removal by macrophages”
Or a related article from the journal Cell Death and Differentiation simply called:
“Phosphatidylserine, a death knell”
You, me and John Donne will probably pick the short and quick.
Thanks for the minute! For Scientific American’s 60-Second Science, I’m Karen Hopkin.
[The above text is a transcript of this video.]
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Terse Titles Are Cited More Often Than Longer Ones - Scientific American