You may think that scientific papers are cited based on the quality of their content, but there are other factors involved as well, says the Guardian's Ben Goldacre. For example, he says, the title can be very important. One recent study showed that titles of scientific papers are likely to fall into one of three categories — subject posed as a question, titles that describe the method, and declarative titles that state the conclusion. "If you're feeling cute, these title styles reflect the three stages of science: the question, method and result," Goldacre says. "The descriptive titles are the most common, as you'd hope, because methods are the most important thing in science. But earlier research has shown that question marks in titles are becoming more common." Other studies have also shown that papers with longer titles get more citations, and papers with titles rated as "highly amusing" get fewer citations, Goldacre says. Even the punctuation can matter — titles with question marks tend to be downloaded more, and titles with colons downloaded less, he adds.
Cite Me! Cite Me!
Oct 17, 2011