Your title will be seen by more readers than any other aspect of your research. Many people will discover your article while skimming through PubMed, Google Scholar, or a similar database. A good title helps researchers find your article and decide whether it’s what they’re looking for.

“What’s in a name?” - William Shakespeare

Best-practices for titling your research article

How do you write a title that helps readers to find your work and engages them from the very beginning?

1. Keep it concise and informative

Title conventions vary across scientific disciplines, but in general your title should give enough information for a potential reader to understand your study at a high level. Ask you write ask yourself:

☐ Broadly, what did you investigate? (e.g. a particular biological mechanism, disease, molecule, population)

☐ What methods did you use? (e.g. randomized control trial, meta-analysis, survey).

☐ What did you discover?


Having trouble striking the right tone?
Take a look at your reference section or try searching for related studies online. Take note: about how long are the titles? How detailed? What patterns do you see?

2. Include important keywords

Think about the search terms a researcher interested in your work may be likely to use, and try to incorporate them into your title.


Think twice about acronyms
When using acronyms, take a moment to consider whether all interested readers are likely to be familiar with them.

3. Entice the reader

Consider your audience. What aspects of your study do you think might be of particular interest to them? Try to give enough information to keep them reading, but don’t feel you need to give away the punch line.

4. Don’t overly-sensationalize your research

Stick to the facts. It can be tempting to hype your research—but overstating your findings in a title can backfire. A provocative title might draw readers in, but if the article doesn’t deliver on the promise, it won’t matter in the long run. The journal may ask you to change the title if the editor or reviewers find it too sensational.

What’s next? Stay with us for our next issue, where we focus on preparing an abstract.

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