Friday, 13 May 2022

How to write a title

One thing we often don't stop to think about enough is how we should write a title for a paper. Once we get onto finalising our research paper, we need to ensure that your title will provide sense-making to the reader, and will pick up on the main thrust of our research focus, findings and central conclusions.

Just as the conclusion is the summary of the entire report, so too is the abstract: the filtration of all our work into four key elements (more on that here). So too, in turn, is the title then the abstract of the abstract.

A 'good' title delivers a number of things well: 

  • It should concentrate the meaning of our paper into a just few words (Kulkarni, 2013). While it is important that our title should not be clickbait, it should also truly represent what our work delivers. 
  • It should simple, straight-forward, and punchy words. This will mean it is more attention-grabbing for the reader, standing out from other papers in the same space (Kulkarni, 2013). It should not obscure meaning, but should clarify it (Punch, 2016). 
  • As many of the key words appearing in our abstract should also appear in our title. Our title should be constructed of terms consistent with the remainder of our document. This is because titles are also indexed in databases, so it should assist our paper to be distributed (Punch, 2016)
  • It should summarise the spirit of the project AND the outcomes.

If none of the ideas above assist us, we could go back to the key journals related to our research project, and see how those articles were titled. We could then consider using that style for our paper. If we are submitting to a journal we can also be guided by their style guide.

I hope this helps!


Sam

References:

  • Kulkarni, S. (17 October 2013). 3 Basic tips on writing a good research paper title. Editage. https://www.editage.com/insights/3-basic-tips-on-writing-a-good-research-paper-title
  • Punch, K. F. (2016). Developing Effective Research Proposals (3rd ed.). Sage Publishing Ltd. 

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