Quick tips to help you get the title of your research paper right

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Quick tips to help you get the title of your research paper right

The title of your research paper is the first aspect that will be visible to reviewers, journal editors, or readers and will help them decide whether your manuscript interests them. Therefore, it is essential for you to create a title that clearly indicates what your research is about but is also compelling enough for the journal editor, reviewer, or reader to want to read on.

Here are some tips to help you write a good title for your research paper:

1. The title of your research paper should be brief and attractive.

A good title tells the reader what the research is about briefly and clearly. Omit unnecessary details in the title: for example, it is not necessary to mention the sample size of your experimental or control groups or the manufacturing details of the equipment you used in the title of your research paper, unless this information is relevant to the content. Often authors use active or direct verbs (e.g. “x causes y” instead of “y is caused by x”). Moreover, a good title for a research paper is typically around 10 to 12 words long. If your journal has a word count restriction for your title, ensure that you follow it. A lengthy title is likely to take your readers’ attention away from an important point. Here’s an example:

Avoid: Drug XYZ has an effect of muscular contraction for an hour in snails of Achatina fulcia species

Better: Drug XYZ induces muscular contraction in Achatina fulcia snails

2. The title should include relevant descriptive keywords.

Most effective research paper titles include some or all of the manuscript keywords. It is also essential to define the nature of your study. One way to do this is by thinking about the terms readers would use when trying to search for your research. Here’s an example of a title that includes strong keywords as well as conveys the significance of the study.

Avoid: Effects of drug A on schizophrenia patients: study of a multicenter mixed group

Better: Psychosocial effects of drug A on schizophrenia patients: a multicenter randomized controlled trial

3. Avoid using abbreviations or jargon that might put off the reader.

Unless an abbreviation is universally well-known, e.g., AIDS or UNICEF, avoid including it in the title. Lesser-known or highly specific abbreviations that may not be immediately familiar to readers might discourage them from taking an interest in your research paper. Here’s an example:

Avoid: MMP expression profiles cannot distinguish between normal and early osteoarthritic synovial fluid

Better: Matrix metalloproteinase protein expression profiles cannot distinguish between normal and early osteoarthritic synovial fluid

Feeling more confident about writing a great title for your research paper? Regardless, this 3-minute interactive video will give you a quick look at the 5 simple steps you need to follow to write the perfect research paper title. It will also give you an example of a sample title so that you can learn first-hand how to apply these tips.


Related reading:
The complete guide to writing a brilliant research paper

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Published on: Nov 18, 2014

Passionate about scholarly publishing, always looking to have memorable conversations with researchers and industry professionals across the globe
See more from Jayashree Rajagopalan


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