What makes a ‘good’ title and (how) does it matter for citations? A review and general model of article title attributes in management science

Abstract

What makes a “good” title for an article, i.e. one which might attract citations in the academic community? Answers to this question are manifold, though inconclusive across disciplines. In an attempt to provide cohesion, we integrate significant title characteristics from previous studies across disciplines into a comprehensive model and link it with citation count. Keeping the application context constant, we focus on management science and find that only non-alpha numeric characters and a balanced title structure have small, but significant effects on citation count. Surprisingly, attributes which tended to show significant effects in other disciplines (though often in opposite directions), such as length, context, and linguistic attributes exhibited no relationship with citation count.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    We would like to thank one of the reviewers for alerting us to the link between downloads and citations.

  2. 2.

    We thank the reviewers for pointing this out.

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank Dr. Matthias Weiss (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München), and Mr. Simon Pek (Simon Fraser University) for their helpful comments. We would also like to thank both anonymous reviewers, as well as the Scientometrics editor Wolfgang Glaenzel for the excellent—challenging, yet always constructive feedback which they generously provided.

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Correspondence to Lakshmi Balachandran Nair.

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Nair, L.B., Gibbert, M. What makes a ‘good’ title and (how) does it matter for citations? A review and general model of article title attributes in management science. Scientometrics 107, 1331–1359 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11192-016-1937-y

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Keywords

  • Article title
  • Citation count
  • Scholarly impact
  • Title attributes
  • Management