Finding the right title


Professor Patrick Dunleavy of LSE highlights the importance of choosing a good title for your work, in his recent article ‘’Why do academics choose useless titles for articles and chapters? Four steps to getting a better title’’

Dunleavy highlights the importance of an informative title, in order to maximize both readership and impact of your article

He  questions the ‘professional obligation’ of academics to be ‘deliberately and carefully obscure,’ and the perceived ‘reckless’ nature of including arguments and findings within the article title itself.

In a tongue in cheek fashion, he ironically explains a six point plan ‘how to design a completely uninformative title,’ satiring the stereotypical approach of choosing a title that echoes every other article, obscurities, and vague interrogation amongst others, before providing four steps to creating better titles. Critically comparing alternatives, ensuring key words are present and picked up in a sub-title or sub-heading, and proposing a full narrative title are just a few suggestions.

Why is this relevant?

Keywords in the article title, which are recognized within search algorithms on platforms such as Google Scholar, will allow greater visibility of works as they appear higher up in relevant search results.

Furthermore, a catchy title will not only inspire fellow researchers to delve further into your work, but will also resonate with a certain amount of memory recall;  be it to come back to the article to read later, or to cite in their own papers.

Increasing readership and prominence of work not only validates its credibility, but also furthers research in the same area.

Dunleavy, Patrick. Why do academics choose useless titles for articles and chapters? Four steps to getting a better title. Impact of Social Sciences (Blog), February 5, 2014.

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