How to come up with a good title for a scientific article

How to come up with a good title for a scientific article

Having chosen the problems and topic for the scientific article, you should give it a name. Most researchers do not give the title of the article the attention it deserves. Meanwhile, the name is that hook that allows you to hook on the reader you need and do not give false hopes to the disinterested. To make people notice and read your article, follow a few simple rules.

Fight the weeds

It is enough to look at any catalog of scientific articles to notice how often researchers begin the names of their articles with the words “To the question of …”, “Problems …”, “Some questions …”, “Investigation of the issue …”, “Materials to study … “and other pseudoscientific turns. Will the essence of the name change if we exclude such phrases from it?

Compare the two headings:

“On the issue of staff motivation in a modern company”

“Motivation of personnel in a modern company”

The meaning is the same, but the second has certain advantages. Firstly, it is shorter, and therefore, in a cursory review it is easier to understand what will be discussed in the article. Secondly, in this title the keywords are taken to the beginning, and the reader is not required to make his way through the jungle of superfluous words to get to the bottom.

Find the optimal length

In addition, brevity is not only a sister of talent, but, according to the magazine Royal Society Open Science, a pledge of more active citation of your article in the future. Analyzing 140 thousand articles from the database Scopus for 2007-2013, the researchers concluded that articles with short names are quoted more often than with long ones. Not only articles but whole magazines with short titles have a higher citation index (take this into account when choosing which journal to entrust the publication of your article ).

However, do not bring the brevity of the name to the point of absurdity. It is best to follow the principle of reasonable sufficiency: the title of the article should be long enough to unequivocally express its main idea and short enough that no word can be discarded without loss of meaning.

From this point of view, the title of the article “Value Orientations” will be unsuccessful. This name makes the reader look inside the article to find out what it is about or even read a few select paragraphs. And if the result is that it does not contain any useful information for a person, it is unlikely that he will thank the author of this article. Respect your colleagues. The title of the article “Value orientations of modern youth” will be longer, but more specific and informative.

In general, the recommended length of the title of a scientific article is from 3 to 15 words (and in terms of indexation, the title should not be more than 10-12 words). If you are unable to keep within this “Procrustean bed”, remember that in addition to the title of your article there is also an annotation in which you also set forth the goal and the main ideas of your article more detailed.

Consider the scientific sphere and style

In discussions on the topic of the headings of scientific articles, one can come across the view that the degree of accuracy and clarity of the title of the article depends on the scientific field.

For example, in technical, natural and economic sciences, the problem or result of scientific research should be stated concretely, clearly and simply – respectively, and the title of the article should be simple and clear. As for the social sciences, such as philosophy and sociology, the scientific article can be multifaceted, giving rise to double and triple meanings, and this can be reflected in its title, which will be less definite.

In general, these differences are not so great that one could speak about some significant features of names applicable in this or that branch of scientific knowledge.

As a rule, it is customary to formulate the title of a scientific article not as a full sentence, in which there is a subject, a predicate, etc. (for example: “Laser radiation and heat contribute to the formation of long-lived radicals of mammalian blood serum proteins”), but as a label (without the use of verbs : “Formation of long-lived radicals of blood serum proteins in mammals under the action of laser radiation and heat”). Some magazines allow full names as the title of the article, but there are few such journals. If you decide on this step, look, see if there are other similar style headlines in the magazine.

In any case, do not choose sensational and intriguing names, use abbreviations in the title, narrowly specialized and slang terms, and formulas. Not always the question mark is appropriate in the title. If in your article you do not ask the question to the reader, but answer it, then the question mark is not needed.

  • Wrong: “How to come up with a good name for a scientific article?”
  • Correct: “How to come up with a good title for a scientific article”

If the magazine asks you to send the title of the article also in English, think about how your name sounds in English, whether it generates unwanted meanings. It is also undesirable to begin such a title with the article a / an.

Correctly formulate the name

How do you come up with a title for your article? And when is it better to do this? At the beginning of work on an article or when an article is already ready?

Of course, it’s much easier to come up with a ready-made text: you already know what is in your article and what is not in it. You are already immersed in the topic, your brain has processed all the information and will readily give you the most appropriate name.

On the other hand, writing an article without any name means that it is much more likely to move away from the main problem. Therefore, before you start working, you need to come up with a working title and an approximate plan for the article, and after the article is ready, formulate a clear and precise title.

To come up with a title for an article, write down all the keywords and concepts, determine their relationship and build a proposal based on this. Find words that accurately and unambiguously reflect the meaning of the article. If the name is long (more than 5-6 words), then the key phrase should be taken to the very beginning.

Less successful title: “New possibilities of using petroleum-polymer resins in paint and varnish materials”

The more successful title: “Neftepolimernye pitches in paint and varnish materials: new possibilities of use”

Check the finished name on the checklist

So, the name is ready. Check it on this checklist:

  1. The title is short and concise (3-15 words).
  2. The title clearly reflects the content of the article, and not just the field of knowledge.
  3. Each word in the title of the article carries a certain semantic load, there are no unnecessary words in it.
  4. All words in the title are combined, the title does not contradict the norms and rules of the Russian language.
  5. The title of the article uses key concepts that help index the name on the Internet, help you find your article in the library’s electronic catalog and attract the right reader.
  6. The name fits well with the style of the chosen scientific journal and will not look like a “black sheep” in its table of contents.

A successful title will not save a bad article, but an unsuccessful title can do much to harm a good one.

Remember that from the correctly chosen name depends on whether your article will be read and whether it will be quoted. Of course, a successful title will not save a bad article, but an unsuccessful one can do much to harm a good one. In the flow of information that hits the reader today, it is important to make sure that when the first quick review of the title of the article it was clear what will be discussed in it.

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