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Picking The Best Title For A Research Paper: 25 Great Suggestions

It doesn’t matter what stage of your academic career you are at, choosing the best title for your research paper is paramount not only to your confidence and ability to write the paper but also as to how it will be interpreted and perceived by your readership. Choosing a lame title could easily result in the paper falling flat on its face. If picking your title for your research paper is enough to make you start biting your nails in desperation, fear not, for here’re are 25 great suggestions:

  • Witchcraft in America: examine the impact of The Salem Witch Trials on communities across America.
  • Explore the parallels between the Ancient Olympians and modern day Olympic athletes.
  • The Global Financial crisis: was it caused by greedy bankers or an over reliance on cheap credit by consumers?
  • Are there any parallels to be drawn between the Suffragettes and the women’s rights movements of today?
  • How to break voter apathy and increase turnout at elections: would forcing first time voters to vote make a difference?
  • Hackers like “Anonymous” claim to be orchestrating huge hacks for ethical reasons. Is hacking ever justified?
  • Suppressing whistleblowers the Snowden effect: prosecuting, indeed persecuting people who wish to blow the whistle on wrongdoing has become the norm. Should we be taking the opposite approach to whistleblowing?
  • Life in a monastery: is this the answer to reversing the modern trend of promiscuity.
  • Evolution of our species: examine evolutionary patterns in humans over the years and consider what the next stages in our evolutionary cycle might be.
  • Algorithms and search engines: a necessary means of predicting consumer’s needs or a gross intrusion into our privacy?
  • Global pandemics: are mass extinctions a thing of the past. Or, could something like Ebola wipe out vast swathes of the planet.
  • Meteorites: are they are threat to our survival?
  • Who owns outer space: is there a benefit to the wider population to businesses investing in and profiting out of deep space mining etc.
  • Optical illusions: what are they and are what the root causes behind them?
  • Corruption within the Vatican: provide a historical account of Vatican cover ups.
  • Amelia Earhart: unravel the mystery around what happened to her
  • The Bermuda Triangle: explore the science behind the myths
  • Atlantis: an investigation into the likely places for it
  • The gender gap: why do some companies still think it is acceptable to pay women less for doing the same job as their male counterparts? What steps can governments take to address this?
  • Wuthering Heights: Was it really written by Emily Bronte?
  • Bram Stoker: how was he able to create “Dracula”
  • Boudicca: heroine or Roman Puppet?
  • The Gunpowder plot: consider an alternate reality in which the plot had been successful
  • End of the “Welfare State” – Are the Dutch right to abolish this?
  • Compare and contrast the Scandinavian childcare model to the British model.

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catchy titles for research papers

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A catchy title for your paper

catchy titles for research papers

How do you search for scientific literature? Chances are, you start by entering keywords into a search engine and then scroll more or less mindlessly through the output list until you come across a title that grasps your attention. The readers of your articles do the same. So, if you want to attract readers to your papers, you’d better create titles that catch the little attention they have when they browse the web. In this post, you will learn how to do just that: You will discover practical advice for writing catchy scientific titles.

Talking about titles…

…makes me think about my Ph.D. supervisor, Denis Hilton , my doctor father as the Germans say.

The best titles promise an exciting journey, and Denis was a master at that craft. An Oxford-educated Englishman, he was the epitome of the Enlightenment intellectual, gifted with endless curiosity. From science to history, tennis, rock music, literature, economics, cheese, languages, wine, or politics, every aspect of culture interested him. And like the truly creative mind that he was, all his passions merged to generate research ideas and sometimes article titles such as the one below.

catchy titles for research papers

As a young Ph.D. student, I couldn’t imagine anything more inspiring! He passed away a year ago, and as I write these words, I realize that he showed me the joy and playfulness of research. I wish that his inspiration would accompany me every minute of my work; I wish that you would also experience it every minute of your work!

How to write a catchy title?

To be catchy, your title must have certain features.

A catchy title informs the reader about the content of the paper

The first function of a title is to allow the reader to identify at a glance the subject of the article. Concretely, how can you do that?

1. Describe in your title what the research is about

Are you looking for the effects of one variable on another? Are you trying to clarify a vague concept?

Your title should capture the essence of your research and state its purpose. For example, you can:

  • Include your key variables (i.e., your dependent and independent variables) and their relation to each other (e.g., “ The effect of nutrition on blood pressure “)
  • Specify the population or context to which your research applies (“ Applying ecological models to communities of genetic elements: The case of neutral theory “)
  • Indicate the problem you are addressing (e.g., “ A universal Bayesian inference framework for complicated creep constitutive equations “)
  • Mention the methods you have used (e.g., “ Investigating emotion with music: an fMRI study “).

2. Set the right expectation for the paper

Your title should give an accurate preview of the content of the paper . Do not overstate or exaggerate the achievements of your study . I know it may be tempting because you want to catch people’s attention. However, a disappointed reader (or reviewer) is worse than an uninterested one. Thus, focus your title on your research’s most central questions (or results), even if you wish they would be more exciting.

3. Specifies the type of your article

Scientific journal articles come in various formats: empirical studies, reviews, case reports, multistudy analyses, theoretical models, or opinions. You can use your title to inform the reader of the type of article your document falls under, especially if it is not standard (e.g., “ Socioeconomic status and obesity: a review of the literature” ).

A catchy title grabs the attention of the right readers

The second purpose of a title is to catch the attention of the readers for whom you wrote the article. Readers will come across your article in two ways: either by scrolling through the issue of the journal where it will be published or on search engines. In both cases, your article will be swimming in a sea of other papers. You want your readers to stop scrolling and click on your title.

A title quoting the Rolling Stones, like my supervisor’s, is great in this regard because it brings a smile and arouses curiosity. However, this does not mean that every article must be crowned with a sexy title. In some journals or fields of research, editors and readers would see a whimsical title as inappropriate and lacking seriousness . Furthermore, the purpose of your title is not to attract just any reader but those for whom your research is relevant. Talking about a research topic, a theory, or a method your readers care about can be more efficient than appealing to pop-culture classics.

catchy titles for research papers

There are several tricks to help you capture the attention of your readers.

1. Make your title easy to read

When your readers scroll through lists of articles, they quickly scan the screen. Thus, one glance should be enough for them to identify the subject of your paper. To make your title easy to read:

– Keep it short , i.e., no more than 15 words. Shorter titles get more citations (see here for correlational evidence).

– Remove all unnecessary words (e.g., “study of,” “analysis of,” or similar constructions).

– Avoid characters that are difficult to print , such as subscripts, superscripts, or mathematical characters.

– Use correct grammar and capitalization .

– Avoid jargon, complex technical terms, or rare abbreviations, especially if you want to reach a broad audience.

2. Tailor your title for your readers

In which journal do you want to publish your article? Who are your readers? Is it a broad audience or a specialized readership? What do they care about? What kind of vocabulary do they use? When writing a scientific article and its title, it is essential to know who you are writing for and adapt to that audience.

Adapting to your audience starts with conforming to the journal’s norms to which you intend to submit your article. Indeed, journal differs in the style of the titles they publish. Some journals have longer titles than others. In some journals, titles can be playful, while other outlets require serious titles. If you’re not sure of the type of titles you’re expected to create, look for examples in the journal where you would like to submit your paper.

Tailoring your title to your audience means using a language they can relate to. This is especially important if you are working on a topic where different communities use different terminologies. Let me give you an example from my field!

Scientists in different disciplines of psychology use different terms to refer to the ability to put oneself in another person’s shoes. Social psychologists call it “ empathy ,” developmental psychologists talk about “ theory of mind ,” neuroscientists use the word “ mentalizing ,” and cognitive psychologists “ perspective taking .” I know, it’s a mess! If you are working on a topic that can be designed with different terms, consider the community you want to address, use their nomenclature and stick to it (please don’t mix different terminologies, it’s too confusing!).

3. Use words that create a positive impression and stimulate reader interest.

The title creates a first impression of the article. So, you can use it to signal that you are an exciting thinker and an engaging writer.

A playful title is an excellent strategy to pump up your audience and make your article viral. If you’re inspired, and the journal you would like to submit your paper allows it, go for it! However, if you use pop culture or news references in your title, keep in mind that your article may still be read years from now, and your reference should still be relevant (and not too corny) at that time.


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Another way to make a strong impression in your title consists in using power words (they’re super cool with a power breakfast and power poses ! 😃). The term “power words” is an internet expression to designate words that trigger emotional responses or curiosity. In science, power words can be nouns or adjectives that:

  • Show extremity, such as billion (e.g., “ Billions of North American birds have vanished “), mass (e.g., “ Avoiding ocean mass extinction from climate warming” ), or extreme (e.g., “ Life at extreme limits: the anaerobic halophilic alkalithermophiles “).
  • Carry novelty or surprise, such as discovery (e.g., “ Discovery of unusual dimeric piperazyl cyclopeptides encoded by a Lentzea flaviverrucosa DSM 44664 biosynthetic supercluster “), revolutionary (e.g., “ Revolutionary leaps in the development of agriculture “), or unconventional (e.g., “ Paracetamol: unconventional uses of a well-known drug “).
  • Relate to emotions, such as fear , horror (e.g., “ Playing With Fear: A Field Study in Recreational Horror “), or threats (e.g., “ Climate change and ecosystems: threats, opportunities, and solutions “).

A catchy title is easily found on search engines

Nowadays, all researchers look for scientific literature on the web, whether it is on Google, Pubmed, or other databases. The problem is that if you type a keyword in one of these search engines, thousands of articles will appear. To ensure that your article will rank well, you can use search engine optimization (SEO) strategies. One of the most efficient of these strategies entails optimizing your title (see this post to learn more about SEO for scientific papers).

To optimize your title for search engines, you must include your main keywords. Don’t use synonyms, but instead focus on the keywords that your target readers might type into a search engine. If you have more than three keywords, include the most important ones in your title and add the others to your keyword list (the keyword list also influences your ranking).

Keywords in a title can refer to:

– The dependent variables.

– The independent variables.

– The method used.

– The theory behind the research.

– The question that the article addresses.

Which formulations can you use in your titles?

To help you develop precise ideas, I’ve put together a list of formulations that are typical for titles. Look at these formulations and pick those that inspire you the most.

1. Your title could be a phrase

A phrase is a group of words that does not convey a complete thought; it lacks a subject, a verb, or both. For example, your title can be a phrase describing:

  • The research question , e.g., “The influence of X on Y” (see example here ). It’s not super sexy, but it has the advantage of being informative and precise.
  • The proposal of the article , e.g., “A new model for representing X and Y” (see example here ).

2. Your title could be a sentence

A sentence refers to a group of words that expresses a complete thought and necessarily contains a subject and a verb. A sentence is easier to understand than a phrase and more dynamic but also longer.

Sentences in scientific titles usually describe the main result. For example: “ Illusory faces are more likely to be perceived as male than female “.

3. Your title could be followed by a subtitle

Subtitles are popular in some scientific disciplines. For example, you can use:

  • The general topic area as the title and the paper’s contribution as the subtitle. Example: “ Keratinocytes: From passive targets to active mediators of systemic autoimmunity .”
  • A catchy phrase as the title and the topic or contribution of the paper as the subtitle. Example: “ Dressed for success: soft gel cloaked in membrane can snap brick .”
  • A new term as the title and its description as the subtitle. Example: “ IMP: a new method for health problem assessment .”

4. Your title could be a question

Questions are a great way to motivate readers to go further. So why not use them in your titles?

Example: “ What constitutes the prefrontal cortex? “

A good title can be tricky to pull off. In this post, you’ve learned concrete tips for making your titles informative, catchy, and findable on search engines. So how do you go on from there?

Don’t spend hours searching for the perfect title. Of course, the title is important, but if it’s understandable and informative, you’ve achieved what matters most. Rather, identify the keywords that should be in your title and take 25 minutes ( a Pomodoro ) to generate 15 titles that include those keywords. Write down anything that comes to mind. YES! ANYTHING! Once you have your list of 15 titles, choose the two or three you like best and propose them to your co-authors.

Does that sound like a good plan?

catchy titles for research papers

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  • Pre-writing instructions
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10 Tips to Write Catchy Titles for a Research Paper

10 Tips to Write Catchy Titles for a Research Paper

The title is in fact the first thing each reader will see in your transcript and your task is to make it interesting to avoid reactions like “Oh God, this will be boring.”

In our previous blog post, “Structure of an ISI paper”, we discussed different sections of a scientific paper, including title or headline.

A title is the first thing that attracts others to read your paper. Since it is the first thing that a journal editor or a reader sees, the title should be scientifically valid and on good judgement and properly display what has been done in research. The most important feature of a title is to be attractive and make concise the main theme of a paper. It should not be long and should not include unknown acronyms.

A good and interesting title plays an important role in the acceptance of your paper by scientific journals.

In fact, the first part of an article that is of interest to the reader is the title or the heading of that article. If the topic of your research is of a trivial nature, it will certainly not please the reviewers and will be rejected.

Sometimes the topic of your research may be very interesting and new, but the title you choose for your article may not be attractive enough. In fact, the way the title of the article is written may indicate that the author is a beginner or highly skilled.

The title of the article describes the whole line of your work and its quality. Therefore, you need to be more obsessive in choosing the title of your article, so that your article will get more attention from others.

Title Types

If you study the main types of titles in a research paper, you can face many options. Three of the most common title formats are:

Interrogative : The title is phrased in the form of a question; it grabs the readers’ attention and provides enough information about the paper; interrogative titles are rarely used in scientific journals, but are acceptable for college and university papers.

Example: Does reinforcing your concentration help improve your performance?

Descriptive : The title describes the topic of your research paper without revealing the main conclusions and results. This causes curiosity in readers about the study’s conclusions and discussion sections. This type of title is not the most informative, however, it is the most widely-used format in scientific circles.

Example: Effects of Family Support on Depressed Patients.

Declarative . The title reveals the key findings or methods and results of a study within one sentence.

Example: Increasing Confidence in Adult Girls with a 3-Month Weight Loss Program.

Each of these three title types is useful in the right place, and you should choose between the types of paper titles depending on what kind of information you want to convey to the audience.

Declarative titles are generally used in research and provide the most information for readers. They are also appropriate if you want to emphasize the technical aspects of your research. Interrogative titles are less common and are suitable for literary criticism articles. But the most common type of article title in journals is descriptive titles.

In fact, a good research paper title:

  • Express the paper’s content in a few words
  • Captures the readers’ attention
  • Differentiates the paper from other papers of the same subject area
  • Is short and include the keyword near the beginning

How to Set Up a Title for a Paper?

Follow the instructions in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA). This manual recommends the use of simple, concise phrases in title setup. In addition, avoid words that have little or no meaning. It is recommended because these words increase the length of the title and make it difficult to sort the title. APA recommends avoiding writing long titles for a paper; it says that your title should not be more than 12 words in length and that it should not contain abbreviations or words that serve no purpose. Long titles are hard to remember and articles with shorter titles are often searched for and downloaded.

Sometimes you can use colon (:) to add more information to an article.

Example: Brain activation during perception of face-like stimuli: An fMRI study

You should not spell out acronyms in the title. Readers who aren't familiar with the meaning of the acronyms may simply skip it, even if your title is related to their search field.

Using satire, irony and sarcasm in the title will help you attract more readers. The problem is that these expressions may not be understood by non-native readers. In addition, if you decide to use humorous expressions instead of keywords, your article will probably be less visible when searching.

Try writing a few headlines and titles for your article so you can choose a more appropriate one by analyzing and combining them. This will improve your experience, and sometimes help you come up with a new idea.

Features of a Good Title

Readers make a hurried or impetuous decision on what to read or not read. They rely on and judge titles as the first and most important part of books, articles, blog posts, and conference. If you want to attract the attention of these readers, you should learn how to write better titles to find more success with their writing.

Your title should have the following important qualities:

1. Be Specific

Choose a topic that is limited in scope, clearly defined, and as specific as possible.

Example: How to Manage to Eat Organic Foods with Low Income

General topic: Healthy Lifestyle

2. Keep It Short, Simple, and to the Point

Be concise in writing a title. Long headlines are confusing and tedious, not displaying your skills for concise writing and can annoy readers.

Your title should be simple enough to attract the reader’s attention. Nobody likes complicated and difficult-to-understand titles. Avoid using strange words, complicated structures, and uncommon fonts when writing your title.

3. Be Accurate

When writing a title for your research paper, you should give your readers a clear idea of what they’re going to read in an essay. Never try to use misleading and untrue words which will damage the overall quality of your paper.

4. Eye-catching

Catchy titles can make or break your content. Avoid using boring titles to ensure grabbing the readers’ attention. Readers are more inclined to opt for reading content or academic papers that have interesting and eye-catching titles.

Examples: Marijuana Can Assist In Peacemaking

Technology Is Turning People into Zombies

5. Include Numbers/Lists

Including numbers in your paper title is a good way to ensure grabbing the readers’ attention. Readers like solutions that are quantifiable. The number is an important aspect of the title.

Example: 10 Tips to Write an Effective Title

6. Include keywords for SEO

You may attract human readers with your title, but what about search engines?! When you use keywords in the title, you make your research paper extremely important for getting ranked highly on Google’s search engine. 

7. Use Active Voice

If your title contains verbs, always make sure they’re in an active voice, rather than passive voice.


X Is the regression of society caused by celebrity culture?

✓ How does celebrity culture contribute to the regression of society?

8. Avoid Using Abbreviations

Aphorism, abbreviations, formulas, acronyms and new words should not be used in the title, as it will make access to that article very poor when searched by other researchers. Abbreviations are not acceptable in the title; the full term should be written in the title to ensure potential readers know exactly what you mean. The first time you use an abbreviation in your transcript, you should write the spelled-out version first and then the short form in parenthesis.

9. Use Neutral Titles

A good title is a neutral one to avoid confronting the reader with your opinion.

X Analysis of the Works of an amazing author: Mark Helprin

✓ Aesthetics in Mark Helprin's oeuvre.

X Britain is Going to the Dogs

✓Recent Developments in the British Economy

10. Using Title-Generating Tools

The last thing to have a unique headline is a tool that helps you find unique and engaging headlines by giving different ideas on a topic. Some of these tools are as follows:

  • SEOPressor's Title Generator
  • Coschedule's Headline Analyzer
  • Hemingway Sharethrough
  • Blog Title Generator - BlogAbout by Impact

You should give the keywords to these tools first, and then they can show you some interesting headlines and examples. Maybe these headlines could attract the attention of many readers to your story!

All of the above-mentioned methods are for increasing the impact of your story on your audience and attracting them and will help you write the right headline. With all of this, your creativity in writing unique titles can change all these rules, so it is highly recommended that you use your creativity to write the best title.

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How to Find a Catchy Title for Your Paper/Essay

Last Updated: February 23, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Stephanie Wong Ken, MFA . Stephanie Wong Ken is a writer based in Canada. Stephanie's writing has appeared in Joyland, Catapult, Pithead Chapel, Cosmonaut's Avenue, and other publications. She holds an MFA in Fiction and Creative Writing from Portland State University. There are 7 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 1,063,035 times.

Coming up with an effective title can end up being the most difficult part of your essay. A catchy title can make your paper stand out from the pile and give your reader a sense of the content, slant, and perspective of your essay. To craft a strong title, you need to focus on the three elements of a standard title: the hook, the key terms, and the source or location. This structure applies specifically to academic essays, but you can also apply this structure to narrative essays.

Understanding the Structure of a Title

Step 1 Craft a hook.

  • The hook can be collection of keywords, an image, a play on words, or a quote from your essay.

Step 2 Choose one or two key terms.

  • Keep in mind good titles never state the obvious or contain generic terms or phrases. Titles like “Paper on 1950s China” or “Report on Shakespeare” are too general and do not give the reader a sense of the content of your paper. Avoid general and non specific terms like “society” “culture” “the world” or “mankind” in your title.

Step 3 Cite the source or location.

  • For example, a paper about Mao’s Great Leap Forward in Communist China in the late 1950s may have a title that has a hook (catchy phrase), one or two key terms, and the source or location (1950s Communist China). A possible title could be: “The Failure of One, the Fall of Many: Mao’s Great Leap Forward in 1950’s Communist China”.

Using Keywords or Images

Step 1 Consider the tone of your essay.

  • For example, the title of an essay about the Great Leap Forward might be something simple, professional, and clear, such as: "The Failure of the Great Leap Forward: China in the late 1950s". An essay about Shakespearean comedy may be more playful, such as: " Love's Labour Lost and Other Comedies."

Step 2 Sum up your paper in three words or less.

  • For example, an essay about the Great Leap Forward in 1950s China may focus on the failed use of industries like steel and farming by Mao’s government and the resulting mass famine in China. Three words that sum up the paper may be: steel, land, famine. A possible title of the essay could be: “Steel, Land, and Famine: The Failure of the Great Leap Forward”.

Step 3 Choose two to three keywords from your introduction or conclusion.

  • Look for two to three keywords that are short, descriptive, and clear. Consider if the words fit together in some way, or how they are very different. For example, your introduction on 1950s China may have keywords like “industrialization” “collectivization” and “collapse”. A possible title for the essay could then be: “The Collapse of Collectivization in 1950s China”.
  • In an essay on the conventions of Shakespearean comedy, the tone of the essay may be less serious or rigid, and you can look for keywords that are playful or humorous. For example, your conclusion may have keywords like “lovers” “obstacles” and “improbable” or “supernatural”. A possible title for the essay could then be: “Lovers in an Improbable Situation: The Conventions of Shakespearean Comedy.”

Step 4 Use a strange or unique image.

  • For example, a paper about a volcano could have the title: “The Day the Earth Bled: The Eruption of Mount Vesuvius”.

Using a Quote or a Play on Words

Step 1 Look for a key quote or phrase in your essay.

  • For example, an essay on Shakespearean comedy may quote A Midsummer Night’s Dream , where a character named Theseus professes his love to his betrothed, the Amazonian queen Hippolyta. “Hippolyta, I woo'd thee with my sword/ And won thy love doing thee injuries,/ But I will wed thee in another key,/With pomp, with triumph, and with reveling.”
  • A possible title for the essay may then be: “With pomp, with triumph, and with reveling: The Conventions of Shakespearean Comedy”.
  • Alternatively, you can look up a key quote or phrase that is not in your essay but reinforces central ideas or themes in your essay. Type keywords from your essay into a search engine, along with the word “quote” and see what comes up. You can then take a fragment of the quote and use it in your title.
  • For example, for an essay on Mao’s Great Leap Forward, you may use quotes from propaganda posters for the Great Leap Forward made by the Mao government, which are available online. A propaganda quote like “Brave the wind and the waves, everything has remarkable abilities” could be shortened to a title like: “Brave the wind and the waves: False Promises by Mao’s The Great Leap Forward”.

Step 2 Reword a cliche.

  • An essay on Shakespearean comedy could use the cliche “laughter is the best medicine” and change it into “laughter is thy best medicine.” A possible title could be: “Laughter is Thy Best Medicine: The Conventions of Shakespearean Comedy”.

Step 3 Go for a play on words, or a double entendre.

  • For example, an essay about missionaries in West Africa during the colonial period could have a title that plays on two key words, such as: “Prophets or profits: The European Colonial Invasion of West Africa”.

Community Q&A

Community Answer

  • There are also tools available online that can generate essay titles for you based on your topic. However, the effectiveness of these title generators vary and the quality of the titles may not be as high as if you take the time to create your own. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

catchy titles for research papers

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Write an English Essay

  • ↑ https://www.grammarly.com/blog/how-to-write-a-hook/
  • ↑ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6398294/
  • ↑ http://canuwrite.com/article_titles.php
  • ↑ https://writing.umn.edu/sws/assets/pdf/quicktips/titles.pdf
  • ↑ https://www.grammarly.com/blog/essay-title/
  • ↑ https://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide/title
  • ↑ https://education.seattlepi.com/come-up-catchy-titles-college-essays-2131.html

About This Article

Stephanie Wong Ken, MFA

To find a catchy title for your paper or essay, start by thinking of 1 or 2 keywords or phrases to include in the title that applies to the topic of your essay and will hook your reader in. You can also try looking for a key quote or phrase and using part of it in your title. Alternatively, reword a cliche or familiar phrase so that it is specific to your essay. To give your title some punch, use a play on words or double entendre, like “Prophets or profits: The Colonial Invasion of West Africa,” which will show off your creativity. For more tips from our Writing reviewer, like where and how to find good keywords to use, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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How to Make a Research Paper Title with Examples

catchy titles for research papers

What is a research paper title and why does it matter?

A research paper title summarizes the aim and purpose of your research study. Making a title for your research is one of the most important decisions when writing an article to publish in journals. The research title is the first thing that journal editors and reviewers see when they look at your paper and the only piece of information that fellow researchers will see in a database or search engine query. Good titles that are concise and contain all the relevant terms have been shown to increase citation counts and Altmetric scores .

Therefore, when you title research work, make sure it captures all of the relevant aspects of your study, including the specific topic and problem being investigated. It also should present these elements in a way that is accessible and will captivate readers. Follow these steps to learn how to make a good research title for your work.

How to Make a Research Paper Title in 5 Steps

You might wonder how you are supposed to pick a title from all the content that your manuscript contains—how are you supposed to choose? What will make your research paper title come up in search engines and what will make the people in your field read it? 

In a nutshell, your research title should accurately capture what you have done, it should sound interesting to the people who work on the same or a similar topic, and it should contain the important title keywords that other researchers use when looking for literature in databases. To make the title writing process as simple as possible, we have broken it down into 5 simple steps.

Step 1: Answer some key questions about your research paper

What does your paper seek to answer and what does it accomplish? Try to answer these questions as briefly as possible. You can create these questions by going through each section of your paper and finding the MOST relevant information to make a research title.

Step 2: Identify research study keywords

Now that you have answers to your research questions, find the most important parts of these responses and make these your study keywords. Note that you should only choose the most important terms for your keywords–journals usually request anywhere from 3 to 8 keywords maximum.

Step 3: Research title writing: use these keywords

“We employed a case study of 60 liver transplant patients around the US aged 20-50 years to assess how waiting list volume affects the outcomes of liver transplantation in patients; results indicate a positive correlation between increased waiting list volume and negative prognosis after the transplant procedure.”

The sentence above is clearly much too long for a research paper title. This is why you will trim and polish your title in the next two steps.

Step 4: Create a working research paper title

To create a working title, remove elements that make it a complete “sentence” but keep everything that is important to what the study is about. Delete all unnecessary and redundant words that are not central to the study or that researchers would most likely not use in a database search.

“ We employed a case study of 60 liver transplant patients around the US aged 20-50 years to assess how the waiting list volume affects the outcome of liver transplantation in patients ; results indicate a positive correlation between increased waiting list volume and a negative prognosis after transplant procedure ”

Now shift some words around for proper syntax and rephrase it a bit to shorten the length and make it leaner and more natural. What you are left with is:

“A case study of 60 liver transplant patients around the US aged 20-50 years assessing the impact of waiting list volume on outcome of transplantation and showing a positive correlation between increased waiting list volume and a negative prognosis” (Word Count: 38)

This text is getting closer to what we want in a research title, which is just the most important information. But note that the word count for this working title is still 38 words, whereas the average length of published journal article titles is 16 words or fewer. Therefore, we should eliminate some words and phrases that are not essential to this title.

Step 5: Remove any nonessential words and phrases from your title

Because the number of patients studied and the exact outcome are not the most essential parts of this paper, remove these elements first:

 “A case study of 60 liver transplant patients around the US aged 20-50 years assessing the impact of waiting list volume on outcomes of transplantation and showing a positive correlation between increased waiting list volume and a negative prognosis” (Word Count: 19)

In addition, the methods used in a study are not usually the most searched-for keywords in databases and represent additional details that you may want to remove to make your title leaner. So what is left is:

“Assessing the impact of waiting list volume on outcome and prognosis in liver transplantation patients” (Word Count: 15)

In this final version of the title, one can immediately recognize the subject and what objectives the study aims to achieve. Note that the most important terms appear at the beginning and end of the title: “Assessing,” which is the main action of the study, is placed at the beginning; and “liver transplantation patients,” the specific subject of the study, is placed at the end.

This will aid significantly in your research paper title being found in search engines and database queries, which means that a lot more researchers will be able to locate your article once it is published. In fact, a 2014 review of more than 150,000 papers submitted to the UK’s Research Excellence Framework (REF) database found the style of a paper’s title impacted the number of citations it would typically receive. In most disciplines, articles with shorter, more concise titles yielded more citations.

Adding a Research Paper Subtitle

If your title might require a subtitle to provide more immediate details about your methodology or sample, you can do this by adding this information after a colon:

“ : a case study of US adult patients ages 20-25”

If we abide strictly by our word count rule this may not be necessary or recommended. But every journal has its own standard formatting and style guidelines for research paper titles, so it is a good idea to be aware of the specific journal author instructions , not just when you write the manuscript but also to decide how to create a good title for it.

Research Paper Title Examples

The title examples in the following table illustrate how a title can be interesting but incomplete, complete by uninteresting, complete and interesting but too informal in tone, or some other combination of these. A good research paper title should meet all the requirements in the four columns below.

Tips on Formulating a Good Research Paper Title

In addition to the steps given above, there are a few other important things you want to keep in mind when it comes to how to write a research paper title, regarding formatting, word count, and content:

  • Write the title after you’ve written your paper and abstract
  • Include all of the essential terms in your paper
  • Keep it short and to the point (~16 words or fewer)
  • Avoid unnecessary jargon and abbreviations
  • Use keywords that capture the content of your paper
  • Never include a period at the end—your title is NOT a sentence

Research Paper Writing Resources

We hope this article has been helpful in teaching you how to craft your research paper title. But you might still want to dig deeper into different journal title formats and categories that might be more suitable for specific article types or need help with writing a cover letter for your manuscript submission.

In addition to getting English proofreading services , including paper editing services , before submission to journals, be sure to visit our academic resources papers. Here you can find dozens of articles on manuscript writing, from drafting an outline to finding a target journal to submit to.

Choosing a Catchy Title for Your Scientific Manuscript

  • Research Process
  • Peer Review
  • Engage readers with an interesting title.
  • Short but descriptive titles are effective.
  • Ensure your title is an accurate reflection of your work.

Updated on August 8, 2012

a stack of paper

Scientists do not often spend much time on the titles of their manuscripts, but many authors consider the title to be the most important part of any written work. In addition to catching the eye of potential readers, the title is your first chance to make a good impression on reviewers and journal editors. Here are some suggestions for choosing the best title for your manuscript:

Keep it short

Lengthy titles will not be read completely, and therefore, some readers may avoid opening the full manuscript. Research by Paiva et al. shows that articles with shorter titles are viewed and cited more frequently. Knight and Ingersoll suggest that 16 words should be the maximum length of a title. Leave out unnecessary “filler” words such as effects of , comparison of , or a case of . Also, do not use abbreviations to save space; all terms should be written out.

AJE's Manuscript Formatting service includes verifying that the word count of your title, abstract, and figure legends complies with journal guidelines.

...but don't make it too short!

If you include too little information, no one will read further. For example, “Novel cancer biomarker” is far too broad to describe one study. ( Which type of cancer is being studied? Is this a new kind of biomarker or just a new example of one? ) Make sure that you provide enough information in your title to make your study unique.

Don't use a question or complete sentence

Choose a descriptive phrase, not a sentence. Questions should not be used as titles - provide the answer instead. In the majority of cases, writing a complete sentence simply introduces unnecessary words. For example, “Red hens undergo spontaneous chromosome rearrangement when exposed to ultraviolet light” ( 11 words ) can be shortened to “Ultraviolet light-induced chromosome rearrangement in red hens” ( 7 words ).

Don't oversell your manuscript

Do not use terms such as novel or first time unless you are absolutely sure no one has published anything similar. These terms are red flags for reviewers and editors. Make sure you can deliver on your title. If you mention uncovering the “molecular mechanism of chromosome rearrangement in red hens,” you should provide a clear understanding of the mechanism from your results. If your results do not reveal the complete mechanism, say “Protein X contributes to chromosome rearrangement in red hens.” Everything in your manuscript should relate back to the title.

Mention the organism(s) being studied

The name of the species or breed involved in the study will almost certainly be a key word that will catch a reader's attention.

Use other keywords that readers will search for

Try to use the most common name for a particular gene or technique to reach the most readers. Place your most important terms at the beginning and end of the title, as they will stand out to a reader who is skimming a table of contents. However, only mention the methods used if the technique is the primary focus of the paper. The study referenced above ( Paiva et al., 2012 ) also shows that articles with titles focused on methods are read less frequently.

Because writing a good title can be difficult, get your colleagues to help! Try writing three or four options, and then ask a few fellow researchers which title grabs their attention the best or which title fits your data most closely. Taking the time to choose the strongest title for your manuscript can make a good impression during peer review and lead to more readers. We hope that this post will help you the next time you are deciding on a title for your work! As always, let us know if you have any questions.

Ben Mudrak, Senior Product Manager at American Chemical Society/ChemRxiv, PhD, Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, Duke University

Ben Mudrak, PhD

See our "Privacy Policy"

catchy titles for research papers

Framing a Good “Title” for a Research Paper

catchy titles for research papers

At first glance, a journal editor or reviewer sees the title of the research paper. This lets the editors and reviewers frame a view of the scope of the research paper . Writing a good and impressive research title is essential and critical to ascertain that it is found online when searched through databases or bibliographies. Choosing an appropriate research title will aid the readers in deciding whether to read or skip the research paper.

Basic tips for a good research title

  • Clear and concise with few words depicting the research content (brief and attractive).
  • Eye-catchy for the readers (essential descriptive words).
  • Distinct from the other research papers in the same field.

How to frame a research title

  • Maintain a word count of 5-15 words (maximum 50 to 100 characters).
  • Analyze the content by asking what the research is about, the techniques used, who or what was studied, and the outcomes observed. These questions can be answered with a list of certain keywords. Using those keywords, a proper sentence can be designed.
  • Omit all the repetitive or unnecessary words and link the words with proper meaning and content.
  • Rephrase the title again to have a finalized version.
  • Put off any jargon or abbreviations.

What not to do while writing a research paper’s title

  • A period is not necessary for any title.
  • Dashes should be avoided, only if to link words, hyphens can be used.
  • Chemical formulas (common and generic nomenclature is accepted) and roman numerals should be avoided.
  • Taxonomic hierarchy, abbreviations, initialisms, and acronyms should be avoided.
  • Numerical exponents, units of measurement, and uncommon words are usually not mentioned.
  • Titles like “A study of,” “Results of,” and “An experimental..” which have a conjunction, don’t give proper meaning.
  • Italics are used only if writing any species name; hence a title should be written in normal text.
  • The scientific names of any species should not be shortened. (e.g., Escherichia coli may not be written as only coli .).

These steps should help a researcher to form a persuasive and essential title within the scope of their research paper . An intriguing title should hint at the subject matter of the research paper and convey the author’s voice.

If you find this content useful, visit our website https://www.manuscriptedit.com/scholar-hangout/ for more content. You can mail us at [email protected] for your queries.

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How to write a research paper title

7 Tips to create the best research title for your paper

Knowing how to write a research paper title is an art that not every researcher possesses, and researchers often spend a lot of time skimming through articles to find the right research paper title.

According to an interesting estimate, researchers read more than 100 publications every year and spend long hours, weeks and months searching for and reading articles relevant to their field of study. 1 While open access publishing and online repositories have made it easier to find articles, researchers still need to browse through a sea of research, often using research paper titles, to find relevant information for their research study. Researchers also face the challenge of ensuring their work reaches a broader audience in order to get more citations. This is where the importance of a good title for a research paper becomes evident.

Your research paper title is one of the first things readers in your research paper and plays an important role in influencing whether they will actually go through the entire article. This makes it critical to have a good research paper title that captures the reader’s attention. In this article, we look at the key characteristics of a good research title and what to keep in mind to create a research title that works for you.

What to keep in mind when writing a research paper title

  • Convey the key research findings: Before writing a research paper title, list down what your study is about, what you have achieved or discovered, and the methodology used. Try and identify the one or two key elements that make your study novel or significant in your subject area. Combine these elements to create the best research title that showcases your article accurately and effectively.
  • Choose a declarative research paper title : Declarative titles are more informative and help readers to quickly grasp what the body of the article may contain. Therefore, it is considered to be more impactful and more likely to attract the reader’s attention. Additionally, most editors agree that papers with declarative titles are more likely to be shared online, allowing researchers to reach a far wider audience. 2
  • A good research title must pique reader interest : Researchers browsing through online platforms during their literature search often spend only a few seconds to read the title and evaluate an article’s relevance. This makes it important to create a catchy title for your research paper that will spark curiosity in the minds of your audience, which may prompt them pause, read, share, and discuss your research paper.
  • Avoid making any unsubstantiated claims: This is an important aspect to keep in mind when creating research paper titles. While it may be tempting to write titles with claims that will immediately attract reader attention and get you more citations, your research should be able to back-up these claims with substantive, studied evidence. Failing to do so can create mistrust about the research and even hurt your reputation.
  • Keep it simple and avoid jargon: It’s tempting to use technical words in a research paper title when you know that your primary audience is most likely to be other researchers working in the same field. However, this can prove counter-productive as readers who are not familiar with these complicated words may end up skipping your article. Some early career researchers might also give your paper a pass as they may feel that it is too technical for them so avoid using jargon.
  • Use phrases to keep your research title concise: One mistake early career researchers make is using full sentences to write the research paper title. Avoid complex phrases and unnecessary details as it makes the title unnecessarily lengthy. Remember to ensure proper syntax when trying to rephrase the title to make it leaner. A good research paper title offers a concise summary of the paper’s content; keep your title to under 12 words as lengthy titles can be hard to understand and may seem unfocused and uninteresting.
  • Include keywords to make your article discoverable: Today most researchers turn to online databases and search engines like Google Scholar to find the right research. This makes it critical to identify and use the best keywords for your research subject/topic when creating a research title. The best research paper title is one that is easily discoverable, making it easy for your readers to find and read your article.

A review of more than 150,000 papers  submitted to UK’s Research Excellence Framework (REF) database found that the style of a research paper’s title impacted the number of citations it would typically receive. 3 Writing a good research paper title is worth the time and effort, and we’re sure the points listed above will help!

  • How Scientists Retrieve Publications: An Empirical Study of How the Internet Is Overtaking Paper Media. Journal of Electronic Publishing, December 2000. [Accessed November 3, 2022] Available at https://quod.lib.umich.edu/j/jep/3336451.0006.202?view=text;rgn=main
  • Di Girolamo, N. Health care articles with simple and declarative titles were more likely to be in the Altmetric Top 100. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, December 2016. [Accessed November 3, 2022] Available at https://www.jclinepi.com/article/S0895-4356(16)30853-8/fulltext
  • Hudson, J. An analysis of the titles of papers submitted to the UK REF in 2014: authors, disciplines, and stylistic details. Scientometrics, July 2016. [Accessed November 3, 2022] Available at https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11192-016-2081-4

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

It is generally recommended to avoid using a question to write a good research paper title. Titles should be concise and informative, conveying the main focus of the study. While questions can be used in the introduction or research objectives, a clear and declarative title is preferred to accurately represent the content and purpose of the research.

A research paper title should be concise and to the point. Ideally, it should be around 10 to 12 words or less. A shorter title is more effective in grabbing readers’ attention and conveying the main idea succinctly. However, it’s important to ensure that the title still accurately represents the research and provides enough information for readers to understand the scope of the study.

Including specific keywords related to the research topic can be beneficial. Keywords help in indexing and searching for relevant papers. However, it is not necessary to include all keywords in the title. Instead, focus on incorporating essential and relevant keywords that reflect the core aspects of the study. Use keywords that are commonly used and recognized in the field to increase the discoverability and relevance of your research.

Abbreviations or acronyms should generally be avoided in the research paper title. The title should be clear and easily understandable to a broad audience. If an abbreviation is commonly used in the field and is essential to convey the research focus, it can be included, but it’s important to provide the full term upon its first mention in the paper for clarity.

Whether you can change the research paper title after submission depends on the specific guidelines and policies of the journal or conference. Some publications allow minor revisions, including title changes, during the review process. However, it is best to ensure that the title is carefully chosen and reviewed before submission. If a change is necessary, it is recommended to contact the editor or conference organizers for guidance on whether it’s permissible to modify the title.

The preferred formatting style for research paper titles varies depending on the specific guidelines of the target journal or conference. Generally, sentence case is commonly used, where only the first word and proper nouns are capitalized. However, some publications may prefer title case, where the first letter of each major word is capitalized. It is important to carefully review the submission guidelines or consult the specific style guide recommended by the publication to ensure consistency with their preferred formatting style.

Related Reads:

  • 10-point manuscript checklist to ensure high-quality journal submissions 
  • Confusing elements of a research paper that trip up most academics
  • How to present data and statistics in your research paper: Language matters 
  • How to find the right academic editor and proofreading partner

How to write a research paper outline: Simple steps for researchers

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