Advertisement

Scientometrics

, Volume 121, Issue 3, pp 1619–1634 | Cite as

The evolution of research article titles: the case of Journal of Pragmatics 1978–2018

  • Zhijun LI
  • Jinfen XUEmail author
Article

Abstract

Previous studies seldom investigated the evolution of research article titles in pragmatics. Based on qualitative and quantitative analysis of 650 research article titles, this study depicts the evolutionary trends of research article titles published in the Journal of Pragmatics regarding their length, lexical density, structural constructions and semantic content since the establishment of the journal in 1977. Our findings identified a trend towards longer titles with higher lexical density, an increasing preference for compound constructions over nominal-group and full sentence constructions, and a more prevalent presentation of information about research method/design in addition to the topic in titles over the past four decades. These findings suggest that research article titles published in the journal appear to be diachronically more informative.

Keywords

Research article title Evolution Title length Lexical density Structural construction Semantic content 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the Social Science Research Foundation of Fujian Province, China (Project No. FJ2016B263), the Innovative Pragma-rhetoric Team Program of Huaqiao University (Project No. 600005-Z17X0191) and Apple-Reading Seminar of Huaqiao University (Project No. 18YJG57).

References

  1. Afful, J. B. A., & Mwinlaaru, I. N. (2010). Commonality and individuality in academic writing: an analysis of conference paper titles of four scholars. Retrieved April 8, 2019, from http://www.esp-world. info/articles_27/commonality_and_individuality_in_writing.pdf.
  2. American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American psychological association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: APA.Google Scholar
  3. Berkenkotter, C., & Huckin, T. N. (1995). Genre knowledge in disciplinary communication: Cognition/culture/power. Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  4. Busch–Lauer, I. (2000). Titles in English and German research papers in medicine and linguistics. In A. Trosborg (Ed.), Analysing professional genres (pp. 77–97). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Day, R. A. (1989). How to write and publish a scientific paper (3rd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Dudley–Evans, T. (1984). A preliminary investigation of the writing of dissertation titles. In G. James (Ed.), The ESP classroom: methodology, materials, expectations (Vol. 4, pp. 40–46). Exeter: Exeter Linguistic Studies.Google Scholar
  7. Fox, C. W., & Burns, C. S. (2015). The relationship between manuscript title structure and success: Editorial decisions and citation performance for an ecological journal. Ecology and Evolution,5(10), 1970–1980.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gesuato, S. (2009). Encoding of information in titles: Practices across four genres in linguistics. In C. Taylor (Ed.), Ecolingua: The role of e-corpora in translation and language learning (pp. 125–157). Trieste: EUT.Google Scholar
  9. Gnewuch, M., & Wohlrabe, K. (2017). Title characteristics and citations in economics. Scientometrics,110, 1573–1578.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Goodman, N. (2011). Fashion in medicine and language: Inferences from titles and abstracts of articles listed in PubMed. The Write Stuff,20(1), 39–42.Google Scholar
  11. Goodman, R. A., Thacker, S. B., & Siegel, P. Z. (2001). What’ s in a title? A descriptive study of article titles in peer-reviewed medical journals. Science Editor,24, 75–78.Google Scholar
  12. Guo, F., Ma, C., Shi, Q., & Zong, Q. (2018). Succinct effect or informative effect: the relationship between title length and the number of citations. Scientometrics,116, 1531–1539.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Guo, S., Zhang, G., Ju, Q., Chen, Y., Chen, Q., & Li, L. (2015). The evolution of conceptual diversity in economics titles from 1890 to 2012. Scientometrics,102(3), 2073–2088.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Habibzadeh, F., & Yadollahie, M. (2010). Are shorter article titles more attractive for citations? Cross-sectional study of 22 scientific journals. Croatian Medical Journal,51(2), 165–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Haggan, M. (2004). Research paper titles in literature, linguistics and science: Dimensions of attractions. Journal of Pragmatics,36, 293–317.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hartley, J. (2007). Planning that title: Practices and preferences for titles with colons in academic articles. Library and Information Science Research,29(4), 553–568.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Jacques, T. S., & Sebire, N. J. (2010). The impact of article titles on citation hits: An analysis of general and specialist medical journals. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine,1, 3–5.Google Scholar
  18. Jalilifar, A. R. (2010). Writing titles in applied linguistics: A comparative study of theses and research articles. Taiwan International ESP Journal,2(1), 27–52.Google Scholar
  19. Jamali, H. R., & Nikzad, M. (2011). Article title type and its relation with the number of downloads and citations. Scientometrics,88, 653–661.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Lewison, G., & Hartley, J. (2005). What’s in a title? Numbers of words and the presence of colons. Scientometrics,63(2), 341–356.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Méndez, D. I., Ángeles Alcaraz, M., & Salager-Meyer, F. (2014). Titles in english-medium astrophysics research articles. Scientometrics,98, 2331–2351.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Moattarian, A., & Alibabaee, A. (2015). Syntactic structures in research article titles from three different disciplines: Applied linguistics, civil engineering, and dentistry. Journal of Teaching Language Skills,7(1), 27–50.Google Scholar
  23. Moore, A. (2010). What’s in a title? A two-step approach to optimisation for man and machine. BioEssays,32, 183–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Nagano, L. R. (2015). Research article titles and disciplinary conventions: A corpus study of eight disciplines. Journal of Academic Writing,5(1), 133–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Nair, L. B., & Gibbert, M. (2016). What makes a ‘good’ title and (how) does it matter for citations? A review and general model of article title attributes in management science. Scientometrics,107, 1331–1359.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Paiva, C. E., Lima, J. P. S. N., & Paiva, B. S. R. (2012). Articles with short titles describing the results are cited more often. Clinics,67(5), 509–513.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Rostami, F., Mohammadpoorasl, A., & Hajizadeh, M. (2014). The effect of characteristics of title on citation rates of articles. Scientometrics,98(3), 2007–2010.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Sahragard, R., & Meihami, H. (2016). A diachronic study on the information provided by the research titles of applied linguistics journals. Scientometrics,108, 1315–1331.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Salager–Meyer, F., & Alcaraz Ariza, M. A. (2013). Titles are “serious stuff”: A historical study of academic titles. Jahr,4(7), 257–271.Google Scholar
  30. Shahidipour, V., & Alibabaee, A. (2017). Syntactic structures and rhetorical functions of electrical engineering, psychiatry, and linguistics research article titles in english and persian: A cross-linguistic and cross-disciplinary study. Journal of Teaching Language Skills,36(1), 145–175.Google Scholar
  31. Soler, V. (2007). Writing titles in science: An exploratory study. English for Specific Purposes,26(1), 90–102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Soler, V. (2011). Comparative and contrastive observations on scientific articles written in English and Spanish. English for Specific Purposes,30(1), 124–137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Subotic, S., & Mukherjee, B. (2014). Short and amusing: The relationship between title characteristics, downloads, and citations in psychology articles. Journal of Information Science,40(1), 115–124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Swales, J. (1990). Genre Analysis: English in Academic and Research Settings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Swales, J., & Feak, C. B. (2012). Academic writing for graduate students. A course for nonnative speakers of english. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  36. Wang, Y., & Bai, Y. (2007). A corpus-based syntactic study of medical research article titles. System,35, 388–399.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Yakhontova, T. (2002). Titles of conference presentation abstracts: a cross-cultural perspective. In E. Ventola, C. Shalom, & S. Thompson (Eds.), The language of conferencing (pp. 277–300). Frankfurt: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  38. Yao, K., & Jiang, Y. (2010). Research article titles of applied linguistics: A diachronic perspective. Foreign Language Research,3, 36–39.Google Scholar
  39. Yitzhaki, M. (1994). Relation of title length of journal articles to number of authors. Scientometrics,30(1), 321–332.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Yitzhaki, M. (2002). Relation of the title length of a journal article to the length of the article. Scientometrics,54(3), 435–447.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Zhang, L. J. (2016). Reflections on the pedagogical imports of western practices for professionalizing ESL/EFL writing and writing-teacher education. Australian Review of Applied Ling uistics,39(3), 203–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Foreign LanguagesHuaqiao UniversityXiamenPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.School of Foreign LanguagesHuazhong University of Science and TechnologyWuhanPeople’s Republic of China

Personalised recommendations