A descriptive study of inaccuracy in article titles on bibliometrics published in biomedical journals
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In a bid for an eye-catching title, many writers use devices such as interrogation and exclamation marks, metaphors, double meanings and vague expressions which do not comply with accepted standards in style manuals of scientific writing. The purpose of this article is to analyse the lack of accuracy of titles in articles on bibliometrics published in biomedical journals and to discuss the effect this may have on the reader. A corpus of 1,505 titles included in PubMed and Web of Science between 2009 and 2011 and retrieved under the MeSH major topic “bibliometrics” and other related terms was analyzed. Different types of inaccuracy were identified and a classification was developed and used for this particular study. 23.4 % of the titles contain inaccuracies of some kind. Editorial titles show a higher percentage of these (11.43 %) than original articles (8.83 %) and letters (3.2 %), the most frequent being the inclusion of a question in the title (seen in 30.9 % of the papers), followed by vague and imprecise expressions (17.8 %), acronyms (16.4 %) and double meanings (14 %). Many titles fail to comply with the conventions of scientific writing. A descriptive title accurately reflecting the content of an article would give readers a better idea of its content, help them to decide more rapidly whether they want to read it and facilitate retrieval from bibliographic databases.
KeywordsResearch articles Accuracy of titles Writing style Bibliometrics Biomedical journals
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