Relation of the title length of a journal article to the length of the article

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 “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.

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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

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Keywords

  • Journal Article
  • Science Journal
  • Humanity Journal
  • Moderate Positive Correlation
  • Article Title