Are Shorter Article Titles More Attractive for Citations? Crosssectional Study of 22 Scientific Journals

Habibzadeh, Farrokh; Yadollahie, Mahboobeh
April 2010
Croatian Medical Journal;Apr2010, Vol. 51 Issue 2, p165
Academic Journal
Aim To investigate the correlation between the length of the title of a scientific article and the number of citations it receives, in view of the common editorial call for shorter titles. Methods Title and the number of citations to all articles published in 2005 in 22 arbitrarily chosen English-language journals (n = 9031) were retrieved from citation database Scopus. The 2008 journal impact factors of these 22 journals were also retrieved from Thomson Reuters' Journal Citation Report (JCR). Assuming the article title length as the independent variable, and the number of citations to the article as the dependent variable, a linear regression model was applied. Results The slope of the regression line for some journals (n = 6, when titles were measured in characters but 7 when titles were measured in words) was negative - none was significantly different from 0. The overall slope for all journals was 0.140 (when titles were measured in characters) and 0.778 (when titles were measured in words), which is significantly different from 0 (P < 0.001 , t test). Overall, articles with longer titles received more citations - Spearman ρ = 0.266 - when titles were measured in characters, and ρ = 0.244 when titles were measured in words (P < 0.001). This association was found for 7 of 8 journals with impact factor >10 and for 2 out of 14 journals with impact factor <10 (P < 0.001, Fisher exact test). Conclusion Longer titles seem to be associated with higher citation rates. This association is more pronounced for journals with high impact factors. Editors who insist on brief and concise titles should perhaps update the guidelines for authors of their journals and have more flexibility regarding the length of the title.


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