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The Title of your Paper

  • Ensure your title accurately reflects the crux of your research
  • Keep it concise
  • Make it different to an essay title

 

Your title will be the first thing anyone sees of your article so it needs to draw readers in. Coming up with a really good title is much more difficult than it looks. Basically you need to convey your information in a concise manner, while avoiding the temptation to make it sound like an essay title. Particularly in an online journal, your title will make up key, searchable data, so don't waste the opportunity to get it right!


The 'too-much-like-an-essay' title
  • 'What were the economic reasons behind the handover of power from Brandt to Schmidt in Germany in 1972?'
  • 'Discuss the arguments for and against capital punishment'

You're not asking your readers a question; you are encapsulating the core themes of your research to accurately reflect what readers will be getting if they read your article.


The clever or obscure title
  • 'Anyone for Tennis?'
  • 'Is there a Text in this Class?'

These titles may seem interesting but they do not tell the reader enough about the content of the article.


The 'academic colon'
  • 'Where have all the Blue Knights Gone?: Colour Symbolism in Medieval Literature'
  • 'With All, and for the Good of All: The Emergence of Popular Nationalism in the Cuban Communities of the United States, 1848-1898'

These sorts of titles can be great and provide an interesting and informative introduction to your work, but only use this style of title if it is appropriate within your discipline. You should also ensure that the pre-colon section of the title is relevant to your paper and not just an excuse to make things sound more interesting!


The 'my whole article is in the title' title

Be careful not to make your title too long. Ensure that you have conveyed enough information, but don't try to cram in too much.


The 'does exactly what it says on the tin' title
  • 'The Siege Engine as Metaphor in Four Old French Chronicles'
  • 'The Stereochemical Outcome of Diene Additions to Thionitrosoarenes'
  • 'Short-term and Long-Term Effects of United Nations Peace Operations'

These sorts of titles tell the reader exactly what they will be reading and are informative to those who have a good knowledge of the subject area and those who do not.

 

If in doubt take a look at titles of journal articles you have read previously (or not read because the title put you off!). Some titles are better and more effective than others. Which ones tell you exactly what you would get if you read the paper? Which pique your interest and which put you off? Try to take inspiration from the best titles and re-title your paper if you think you need to.