Choosing an appropriate title for a research paper or thesis at times leaves scholars and researchers with mental blocks. Though it seems to be a simple task, it is a perplexing exercise causing worry to many researchers. It is important that the research title be relevant and self-explanatory as this is the first thing that people consider as a deciding factor for further action.
Invariably, when browsing the internet or searching through databases, the title remains the sole factor for a reader to decide whether to read the paper or skip it. With countless research papers flooding your laptop at the tap of a button, readers get impatient with dull, lengthy, or wordy titles. People have a tendency to pass over lengthy and unappealing titles though the research paper may have interesting and intellectual content. Moreover, readers decide the relevance of the research paper to their area of interest based on the title.
Whether it is someone on a purposive search or someone accidently bumping onto your research paper, they need to be drawn by your research title. Therefore, the title has to be powerful enough to induce interest in the reader. Only an interesting and catchy title draws the attention of readers. Furthermore, the title is the defining factor of your research area under investigation. Hence, it needs to be meaningful and appealing. This builds pressure in researchers to come up with a compelling and attractive research title.
Nevertheless, the process of selecting an appropriate title for your research can be easy if you follow few tips as listed below.
Tips for Framing a Research Title
Select a Working Title
The obvious thing to do in the initial stage of the research process is to decide the title. The title will help you to be focused and direct you towards the objectives and hypothesis. However, as you progress and complete your research, be prepared to slightly modify the working title and finalize your research title.
Keep it Simple and brief
It is important that you choose a title that clearly conveys two core things – focus (research topic/ purpose) and scope (method [example – Qualitative Assessment or An Experimental Research…] / target group, and/or place of study). Give serious thought to use of words and avoid framing titles with complicated phrases and questions. Use of words and phrases need to be focused on the content and scope of the research.
Be careful in maintaining appropriate title length. Experts suggest having 12 to 18 words for a title. Too long or too short titles are not preferred. For example, look at this title –
A Study to investigate the Attitudes, Preferences, and Practices of Employees on Using Digital Media with special reference to HR Professionals in Corporate Setting in Developing Countries
This is an example of a lengthy and wordy title. It is obvious that you are conducting a research to find out something. Hence, wordiness and redundant expressions or phrases are unnecessary.
On the other hand, look at the following title –
Usage of Digital Media among HR Professionals
This is too short and does not convey either the scope or the focus.
Instead, think of a title like this –
Usage of Digital Media by HR Professionals in Chennai – A Qualitative Report on their Perceptions and Practices
Narrow the Scope
You need to think judiciously before selecting a research title. One of the essential criteria is limiting your scope of the research and reflecting the same in the research title.
For example, consider the following title –
HRM Culture and Job Satisfaction among Employees in Private and Public Companies in Gulf Countries
This is too broad in scope and will be both complex and time-consuming. Rather, limiting the scope will help you to be specific and more focused. Furthermore, it makes more sense to limit the scope if you are doing the research for academic (pursuing a degree) purpose.
To make it more relevant, think of something like the title below.
Dynamics of HRM Culture and Job Satisfaction among Expatriates in Multinational Companies – A Comparative Analysis in Dubai
Use of Subtitles
The use of subtitles adds value to your research title in terms of method, target location, context, scope, or special reference. You need to frame subtitles that are specific and relevant to the overall scope of the study.
Identify Keywords for using in your title
As you progress in your research, identify keywords that throw light on the content of your research. You can use these keywords to refine the working title and make it more attractive and relevant.
Avoid using Jargons, Abbreviations, or Exclamatory Marks
Sometimes the researcher gets carried away for framing unique and never-before used titles. Consequently, it becomes tempting to frame titles with jargons, acronym, or exclamations. One of the important principles in framing a title is to avoid using unfamiliar jargons, terms, abbreviations and other symbols. If your research title has a question, ensure that you answer the question in the research paper. The purpose is that even a layperson is able to judge the content expected from the research paper.
Use Words that are interesting and attractive to the reader
Your focus while framing the research title should be to capture the readers’ interest and compel them for action, which is to read the research paper. Hence, the choice of words needs to be positive, purposive, informative, attractive, and kindle the curiosity of readers.
Use terms that are trendy
Be careful to use terms that are currently in use. Using outdated terms or words will snap the readers’ attention and they will not attempt to read your work. Furthermore, the choice of words in the title needs to be such that they pop up when readers surf for related titles in internet search.
Check the Grammar and Capitalization of Words
Take care to check the grammar more than once. Even a simple grammatical mistake has the power to change the focus or purpose of the study. Further, be cautious in using verbs, adjectives, adverbs, or capital letters.
Check the Expected standards
If you are writing an academic paper for journal submission, check the criteria set for research titles. Every journal has set certain standards for submissions and they need to be followed for paper acceptance.
Have I missed out anything important? Please give your suggestions in the box below.
Enago Academy. 2017. 4 Important Tips on Writing a Research Paper Title. [Online] Available at: https://www.enago.com/academy/write-irresistible-research-paper-title/
Rajagopalan, R. 2014. 5 Simple Steps to write a good research paper. [Online] Available at: https://www.editage.com/insights/5-simple-steps-to-write-a-good-research-paper-title
University of Southern California. 2017. Organizing your social sciences research paper: choosing a title. [Online] Available at: http://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide/title