Choosing the Best Title for Your Manuscript

Writing a manuscript for publication is a multifaceted process. You have to finish the literature review, detailed your methods, discussed your findings and format your figures. The only thing left is the Title.

The Title of a manuscript has an important role, and requires more care and consideration. Any manuscript can be divided into three broad sections: the body of the paper, the abstract, and the title. Of these, it’s pretty much a given that more people are going to see the abstract and the title than the main text itself.

The detail given in the body of the paper is written primarily for your target audience, the abstract and the title, are going to be seen by a much broader section of the scientific community. So, it’s important to make sure that the title is an accurate reflection of the contents of your paper, whilst being engaging enough to draw in readers.

The main points to keep in mind when deciding the title of your paper can be remembered, fortuitously by the first six letters of the alphabet: keep it ‘Accurate; Brief; Clear; Declarative; Engaged and Focused’.

Accuracy, clarity and focus are fundamental to advertising all of your work in a single sentence. Choosing the right keywords will optimize your search results on academic databases such as Google Scholar. For example, include the names of important genes and model organisms, but avoid abbreviations that might not be familiar to readers outside of your immediate field. These steps ensure that your manuscript will be easily-found online. This should lead to more views, and, ultimately, more citations.

Brevity means avoiding any unnecessary jargon: keep your title snappy and to-the-point to reflect the main results of your work, and emphasize the novelty and importance of your findings to engage your reader. A declarative title makes a clear statement about your paper. Wherever possible, a title should be written in the active voice. Lastly, avoid using questions: could they imply uncertainty?

A quirky title won’t provide enough information about the main findings of your work, or be focused enough to convey their importance. Furthermore, funny titles probably don’t include the key ‘hit words’ that will help to optimize manuscript reads and citations.

Good research is the fundamental basis of any good paper, but a title is how people get to it. Keeping these points in mind, and taking a little longer to decide a title, might give your paper the boost it’s been missing.

Also read Tips to Promote your Research Articles


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