How to choose the BEST title for your journal article
Choosing a journal article title is a very important part of the scientific process because it may influence the impact of your work and the number of readers that it will attract.
Here’s a list of my top tips for picking the most effective journal article title.
- DRAFT A NUMBER OF DIFFERENT TITLE IDEAS AS YOU WRITE YOUR ARTICLE
It’s a great idea to generate a number of different titles for your article as you write it. Start with a draft title in the beginning and then focus on writing the rest of the paper. When you have new ideas, go back and add them in. This is great for collaborative work as other authors can make title suggestions as article drafts circulate. Once you are ready with the full text, you can return to the title and decide on the final version!
- CHOOSE WHAT ‘TITLE TYPE’ YOU WANT TO USE
There a a few different types of titles that articles commonly use. Suit one that you believe suits your findings and conclusions most appropriately.
Declarative titles – state the main findings or conclusions (e.g. ‘A four-year weight loss trial increases activity levels in Australian men with obesity’)
Descriptive titles – describe the subject of the article but do not reveal its main conclusions (e.g. ‘The effects of a weight loss trial Australian men with obesity).
Interrogative titles – introduce the subject in the form of a question (e.g. ‘Does a four-year weight loss trial increase activity levels in Australian men with obesity?’)
- WRITE SOME VARIANTS OF THE SAME TITLE
Write a few variants of each title suggestion. This will allow you to see how the title could be clearer and might even generate some new ideas!
- Use acronyms in the title without spelling them out.
- Use a very long subtitle (e.g., ‘Self-esteem: Can it improve interpersonal relationships among community-dwelling adults in North America?).
- Use titles that are too long. The recommended length of a title is no more than 12 words.
- Use words that carry little or no meaning as they increase the overall length and may mislead indexing services.