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 “significant” (i.e., non-trivial) words included in it, and one of the factors which might be associated with it is the length of the paper, measured by its number of pages. The present study attempted to test, in a large group of journals from different areas and over six decades, the hypothesis that a paper with more pages will have more “significant” words in its title. Large samples of original research papers were drawn from each decade year of twenty-four leading journals selected from the sciences, the social sciences and the humanities. For each paper, the number of “significant” words in the title was correlated with the number of pages. 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 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 one. The different findings for the sciences are perhaps attributable to their unique inherent features.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Abt, H. A. (1992), Publication practices in various sciences, Scientometrics, 24: 441–447.
Balog, C. (1979–1981), The information content of titles of papers in an agricultural journal, Journal of Research Communication Studies, 2: 263–270.
Bird, P. R., Knight, M. A. (1975), Word count statistics of the titles of scientific papers, The Information Scientist, 9: 67–69.
Bottle, R. T., Preibish, C. I. (1970), The proposed KWIC index for psychology: an experimental test of its effectiveness, Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 21: 427–428.
Buxton, A. B. (1979), The Bibliographical Information Content of Research Papers, Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Leicester.
Buxton, A. B., Meadows, A. J. (1977), The variation in the information content of titles of research papers with time and discipline, Journal of Documentation, 33: 46–52.
Buxton, A. B. (1987), Titles revisited, Journal of Documentation, 43: 65–68.
Diener, R. A. V. (1984), Informational dynamics of journal article titles, Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 35: 222–227.
Diodato, V. (1982), The occurence of title words in parts of research papers: variation among disciplines, Journal of Documentation, 38: 192–206.
Diodato, V., Pearson, K. (1985), Source indexing in science journals and indexing services: a survey of current practices, Science & Technology Libraries, 6: 103–118.
Feinberg, H. (1973), Title Derivative Indexing Techniques: A Comparative Study, Scarecrow Press, Metuchen, N.J.
Hodges, P. R. (1983), Keyword in title indexes: effectiveness of retrieval in computer searches, Special Libraries, 74: 56–60.
Kuch, D. C. (1978), Relation of title length to number of authors in journal articles, Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 29: 200–202.
Luhn, H. P. (1960), Keyword-in-Context Index for technical literature (KWIC Index), American Documentation, 11: 288–295.
Manten, A., Greenhalgh, J. F. D. (1977), Titles of scientific papers, Animal Feed Science and Technology 2: 1–6.
Mishra, S., Mohanta, R. N. (1990), IASLIC Bulletin: a bibliometric study, IASLIC Bulletin, 35: 125–128.
Mitchell, H. (1968), Writing for Professional and Technical Journals, N.Y., Wiley.
O'Connor, M., Woodford, F. P. (1975), Writing Scientific Papers in English, Amsterdam, Elsevier.
Price, D. J. (1970), Citation Measures of hard science,soft science, technology and nonscience, In: C.E. Nelson, D.K. Pollock (Eds), Communication Among Scientists and Engineers, Lexington (Mass.) Heath, pp. 3–22.
Rana, R. P. (1982), A trend in citation pattern in anthropology, Annals of Library Science and Documentation, 29: 170–175.
Storer, N. W. (1967), The hard sciences and the soft: some sociological observations, Medical Library Association Bulletin, 55: 75–84.
Tocatlian, J. J. (1970), Are titles of chemical papers becoming more informative?, Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 21: 345–350.
Yitzhaki, M. (1992), The variation in informativity of titles of research papers with time and field, Cognitive Paradigms in Knowledge Organisation, Second International ISKO Conference, Madras 26–28 August 1992, Sarada Ranganathan Endowment for Library Science, Bangalore, pp. 401–418.
Yitzhaki, M. (1994), Relation of title length of journal articles to number of authors, Scientometrics, 30: 321–332.
Yitzhaki, M., Ben-Tamar, D. (1990), Multiple authorship in biochemistry and other fields; a case study of the Journal of Biological Chemistry throughout 1905–1988, Informetrics 89/90: Second International Conference on Bibliometrics, Scientometrics and Informetrics, London (Ontario), July 5–7 1989, Amsterdam, Elsevier, pp. 373–389.
White, A. (1991), A further exploration of title size and author number, Journal of the American Society for Information Science 42: 384–385.
White, A., Hernandez, N. R. (1991), Increasing field complexity revealed through article title analyses, Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 42: 731–734.
About this article
Cite this article
Yitzhaki, M. Relation of the title length of a journal article to the length of the article. Scientometrics 54, 435–447 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1016038617639
- Journal Article
- Science Journal
- Humanity Journal
- Moderate Positive Correlation
- Article Title