The title, abstract, and keywords of your paper are the most important components. In most cases, the popularity of your paper and the number of citations to your paper (which is the main measure of success presently) will depend on those three components. This is because those are the only components available freely online and others might use it if they find your title interesting.
Ideally, the title should convey what question is solved and how you proposed to solve it and be interesting to others. This is where people will decide to read or not to read further.
- Start with writing all keywords that you would Google if you would search for the paper like yours. Those keywords should be broad enough that people who search for related areas will find it and narrow enough that it will include specifics on your solution. If you need help inventing keywords – search in titles of the papers you intend to cite.
- Highlight the keywords that differentiate your question/approach/solution from any other paper you know. Those keywords have to be included in the title.
- Combine between 5-10 keywords (including the highlighted) in a sentence with other connecting/clarifying words. Try at least a few combinations before you decide on the final one.
- The length of 5-15 words is recommended for a title (typically around 10).
- For each word, examine if the word does not add to the meaning. Remove it if this is the case. To identify such words, just pull them out of the title and try to read it again. If it gives the same meaning, then the word is redundant and needs to be removed. For example, “mathematical formula” – unless you write on chemical formulas and you actually want non-chemical formulas in your title, then the word “mathematical” is redundant because it is the default for formulas. Another popular mistake raises red flags of reviewers and editors. Never ever use “novel” or “new” in your title. All published papers which are not surveys or reviews are novel by definition (otherwise nobody would publish them).
- Make the scope of your title broad enough to include a broader audience.
- Make the scope of your title as narrow as possible to specify your problem and your solution. You may note that this contradicts the previous recommendation, but this is exactly how it works. Think who is your audience and who might be interested in your work. Aim at professor or advanced graduate student level, because those will be your readers and talk to them. Never use layman language in technical communication. For example, the title: “Machine learning for classifying species” is too broad because it is not clear what machine learning approach was used and what kind of species are classified. On the other hand, the title: “Using a directed acyclic graph for classifying goldfish in 1x1x1 cu.ft. aquariums” is too narrow, because the reader might be interested in other fish or aquariums.
- DO NOT write in the title something that is not an accurate reflection of your work.
- Avoid using abbreviations or uncommon words.
- Make sure that the title has only one possible meaning and interpretation and it is commonly accepted. For example, “Cardiac differential equation for…” – it only would work if there is a single differential equation which is named Cardiac. Also, be careful with phrases like: “New obesity study looks for the larger test group,” which has 3 different meanings.