Science Articles With Shorter Titles Get More Citations

Even scientists prefer to keep things brief. 

Less is more when titling a science paper. In a study of 140,000 of the most highly cited papers on Scopus, researchers at the University of Warwick found that journals that publish science papers with shorter titles receive more citations per paper.

The number of citations a paper gets is a rough measure of its importance — the science world’s equivalent of a popularity contest. Of course, the paper couldn’t take all confounding factors into account. Journals have different style rules, and some subjects are simply more difficult to condense into catchy titles. On top of that, papers by more well-known authors are sought out more often.

Still, it doesn’t hurt to keep things concise. As Meghan Byrne, a senior editor at PLoS One, said in a Nature News article, “I find that snappier ones catch my attention more.”

The authors, practicing what they preach, named their article “The advantage of short paper titles.” It was published today in the journal Royal Society Open Science. Tl;dr, be brief.