, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 321-332

Relation of title length of journal articles to number of authors

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Abstract

The great importance of titles being highly informative is almost unanimously accepted in literature, assuming that the more informative titles are, the more effectively they serve their functions. The most common measure of title “informativeness” has been the number of “substantive” words included in it, and one of the factors which might be associated with it is the number of authors. The present study attempted to test, in a large group of journals fromdifferent areas, and over six decades, the hypothesis that a paper signed by a larger number of authors will have more substantive words in its title. Large samples of original research papers were drawn from each decade year of fourteen leading journals. For each paper, the number of substantive words in the title was correlated with the number of authors. Findings indicate a difference between the scientific journals on the one hand, and the social sciences and humanities journals on the other. A moderate positive correlation was found in most scientific journals (excluding mathematics) for many periods. In the social sciences journals, and to a greater extent, in the humanities journals, a significant positive correlation was limited to only a few periods, while the rest showed a very low correlation, or even a negative correlation. The different findings for the sciences may be somehow associated with their higher rate of multiple authorship.

Paper presented at the Fourth International Conference on Bibliometrics, Informetrics and Scientometrics in Berlin (Germany), September 11–15, 1993.