The other night i felt like a potato bake for dinner. I couldn’t remember the recipe so I jumped on Google and searched for ‘The application of heat to potatoes: A novel approach to the use of cream sauce’.
Actually I didn’t do that, that would be ridiculous, but we accept these type of titles for scientific papers. So why do we do this? My conjecture would be that title style for journal articles was set pre-computer, when academics would subscribe to their relevant journal, wait for the postman and read through the journal cover to cover. If you are going to read something anyway there would be advantages to having a detailed title as it would allow you to know what the article is about before reading it.
But with the rise of the search engine we no longer know were our next article is coming from, we look for articles not journals. Because of this, article headings should no longer be heavily descriptive or flashy, but should instead be a short summary of the main findings of the paper. Using the above title as an example, A better title could be ‘cream sauce on heated potatoes creates a delicious dish’. This heading is closer to what someone looking for the topic would type in Google scholar, the results of the paper they are looking for. The title also includes more keywords for search engines to find so it may show up when searching for: “cream”, “sauce”, “potatoes”, “delicious”, “dish”.
Additionally using a summary of the paper’s results as the title allows people to identify that its the paper they are after at a glance, something that is now important when people are scrolling through pages and pages of search results on a screen.
This of course is just my opinion, what do you think is the best method of titling papers?
PS: For those who actually came here for a potato bake recipe: Click Here