Papers with shorter titles get more citations

To William Shakespeare, brevity was the soul of wit. For scientists, it may be even more valuable, as conciseness seems to correlate with how frequently a research paper is cited.

Researchers at the University of Warwick in Coventry, UK, analysed the titles of 140,000 of the most highly cited peer-reviewed papers published between 2007 and 2013. They compared the lengths of the papers’ titles with the number of times each paper was cited by other peer-reviewed papers — a statistic sometimes used as a crude measure of importance. They found that journals which publish papers with shorter titles receive more citations per paper. It makes sense, the thought of typing in long citation details certainly makes me think twice over whether I might use one particular reference over another. It is also possible that long titles give the impression that the research question was unclear.


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