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EDITORIAL Table of Contents   
Year : 2010  |  Volume : 21  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 1-2
Title of scientific papers

Department of Oral and Maxillo Facial Pathology, Meenakshi Ammal Dental College and Hospital, Alapakkam Main Road, Maduravoyal, Chennai - 600 095, Tamil Nadu, India

Click here for correspondence address and email

Date of Web Publication27-Apr-2010

How to cite this article:
Sivapathasundharam B. Title of scientific papers. Indian J Dent Res 2010;21:1-2

How to cite this URL:
Sivapathasundharam B. Title of scientific papers. Indian J Dent Res [serial online] 2010 [cited 2023 Mar 30];21:1-2. Available from:
The last quarter of the year being conference season in India, I had the opportunity to attend few national and specialty conferences. Although it was nice to see many scientific papers presented by postgraduate students and young teaching faculty members, the title of many papers were surprising and confusing. Good night sweet dreams, wow lips and congrats it's a boy, were to name a few. The first one is about sleep apnea, the second about lip prints and the last about gender identification using DNA. I have even come across titles running into many lines, only, slightly smaller than that of an abstract.

When asked about such catchy titles, the authors wanted to grab the attention of the audience. This may be true in case of newspaper journalism. 'Sachin spin the web, Whitney made chutney out of Indian bowling' are few interesting titles appeared in a vernacular Indian newspaper. Although, it grabbed the attention of the readers, the titles were relevant. But look at this one "How to name it: A rare case of odontogenic cyst?" published in J Oral Pathol Med. [1] This article is about a lesion having features of more than one entity. Interestingly with the first part of the title, a music album was released years back by a renowned Indian music composer. Such titles unnecessarily confuse the persons using internet search engines.

The title is the face of the paper. It gives the first impression about the content within the paper, helps the reader to decide whether it's worth reading, and provides a clue about the type of paper, its specificity, and the depth. [2]

How to title a scientific paper? On an average, a reader takes less than two seconds to read the title of a paper, [2] which means an author has just two seconds to impress the reader. Here, attract does not mean using adjectives, its all about using the appropriate keywords. The specificity of a paper is directly proportional to the number of keywords used in the title. [2] However, the keywords could be broad or general (dentistry, pathology) or intermediate (odontogenic tumor, follicular ameloblastoma, finite analysis) or specific like (p53 expression, telomerase). A general keyword gives breadth and attracts broad viewership, while a specific keyword gives depth to the title and attracts an expert in the field. [2] So, a good title combines keywords of all the three categories. Use of appropriate keywords are also important in terms of search engines, as most of the search engines use keywords. The importance of keyword can also be stressed further that the readers use the keywords more often to find an article than name of authors or a citation.

Secondly, the title of the scientific paper should be short and declarative, rather than interrogative, exclamatory or running into many lines. [3] However, it should not be too short that the reader is not able to figure out the exact content of the paper. It should be relevant and describe the content of the paper clearly. It is important to understand the difference between a sentence and a title. Generally, in a sentence, the new information appears in the end (stress) and the old information in the beginning (topic). Whereas, a title has the new information (i.e., the contribution to scientific community) in the front and known or less specific information in the end. [2]

Abbreviations and jargons should be avoided in the title. [2],[4] It is also not preferable to start the title using words such as 'A study of', 'Investigations of ', 'Observations on' and the like. Also, avoid using terms like 'new, fast, short' which are relative and more general.

Since most of the indexed journals have distinct sections for case reports, review article and the like, titles with endings such as 'a review', 'a case report' are unnecessary. For example, the article titled 'Epithelial myoepithelial carcinoma of palate: A case report' will appear only in case report section of the journal. So the second part of the title i.e., 'a case report' is redundant.

Last but not the least, look into the 'information to authors' section of the journal you intend to submit. Look for capitalization styles, length and general form. [4] Some journals allow descriptive titles, while others declarative ones, and still others a combination of both. Most journals prefer short titles, preferably less than 100 characters including the spaces.

A good title attracts the reader and increases the chance of citation.

   References Top

1.Ponniah I, Murali Gopika Manoharan GV, SureshKumar P, Karthikeyan K. How to name it: A rare case of odontogenic cyst. J Oral Pathol Med 2007;36:563-9.  Back to cited text no. 1  [PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]  
2.Lebrun JL. Scientific writing: A reader and writer's guide. Hackensack, NJ, London: World Scientific; 2007. p. 210.  Back to cited text no. 2      
3.Holtom D, Fisher E. Enjoy writing your science thesis or dissertation: A step by step guide to planning and writing dissertations and theses for undergraduate and graduate science students. London: Imperial College Press; 1999. p. 278.  Back to cited text no. 3      
4.Matthews JR, Matthews RW. Successful scientific writing: A step-by-step guide for the biological and medical sciences. In: Matthews JR, Matthews RW, editors. 3 rd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 2008. p. 240.  Back to cited text no. 4      

Correspondence Address:
B Sivapathasundharam
Department of Oral and Maxillo Facial Pathology, Meenakshi Ammal Dental College and Hospital, Alapakkam Main Road, Maduravoyal, Chennai - 600 095, Tamil Nadu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0970-9290.62794

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