Beki Grinter

Witty or Serious? Titles for Academic Papers

In research on April 28, 2010 at 2:28 pm

It pains me to say this. Google Scholar suggests that the least witty of my paper titles appear to be the ones that are the most well cited.

It pains me because I’m from the school of pithy paper titling (I am told that it’s a British thing, I accept no responsibility for that). For a long time, I had a paper title in mind (“It’s hard to say goodbye” which was based on an observation that it’s harder to end IM conversations than face to face ones. I didn’t do the research and others have done it… but I still remember it… and the song that inspired it).

Perhaps though it’s not the title but the contents of the paper itself. I hope so. But, as I look at Google Scholar, I can’t help wondering. And if I think of search terms, then I can see a potential reason for why it might be the case. I wonder whether Google pulls titles before content on Scholar and more generally?

What do you think?

Meanwhile I think I will devote my creative attention to naming conference sessions. And for those organizing conferences I would like you to know that I am available for a modest fee. My furlough days could be well applied to this all important problem of creative conferencemanship.

  1. Maybe a followup to the alt.chi paper that suggested that papers with colons in the title were more likely to be highly cited?

  2. The words in the title are important for the ranking. So papers with “boring” titles are probably ranked higher because they contain the keywords people search for in the title. As they are ranked higher, more people read them, and finally more people cite them.

    see also also this paper about academic search engine optimization (aseo)–preprint.pdf

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