Tips for Writing Better Science Papers: Titles (2)

Tips for Writing Better Science Papers: Titles (2)

Author: Richard Threlfall

Have you ever struggled to write up your results into a publishable paper only to get it rejected? Richard Threlfall, Managing Editor, Asian Journal of Organic Chemistry, gives some insider tips on how to improve each section of your article and increase your chances of getting published.



We’re going to start right at the top with the title of your manuscript!

The title of a paper is important because it is one of the first things that an editor/reviewer/reader sees when they look at your manuscript. Therefore, it is important to grab their attention right away and give them an idea of why your paper is a scientific breakthrough! Be specific, not too technical, and concise.

The other thing to consider is that internet and scientific search tools often search by manuscript title, so if you want to get your paper read and cited, it is important to get some of the key aspects of the research into the title. A good tip is to think which search terms you would use to find your own paper through a web search.

For a basic example, consider a (fictional) manuscript entitled “Effect of Metal Catalyst on the Outcome of Reactions with Aryl Alcohols”.

What is the effect? Which metal? What reaction? What type of aryl alcohols? The editor/reviewer/reader get nothing but questions out of this title!

Much better might be: “Ruthenium Trichloride is the Most Efficient Catalyst for C–H Activation with 2,4-Disubstituted Aryl Alcohols”.

The editor/reviewer/reader immediately knows what the paper is about and will want to read more. Plus, someone who types in terms like “ruthenium”, “C–H activation”, or “2,4-disubstituted” into a search engine has a much higher chance of finding the second manuscript, but does not get any matches with the title of the first one.

Finally, avoid adding every detail from the paper into the title—the title shouldn’t be confused with or replace an abstract. The most read and most cited articles often have short and simple titles.


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