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A surprising correlation after mining 140,000 papers

An article published in Nature on August 26, 2015 reports the results of a large analysis by Adrian Letchford and his colleagues at the University of Warwick, Coventry, England: they digged into the most cited 140,000 peer-reviewed papers published between and 2007 and 2013, and found that articles published in journals that impose short titles get more citations.

Science, for instance, allows no more than 90 characters in the title and gets an average of 30 citations per paper, whereas other journals – allowing up to 250 characters – get less citations.

“Shorter is sweeter” sounds good, but one cannot overlook the fact that the researchers have ignored the possible effects of other factors. As the article puts it, “There might simply be more citations in fields where it is standard to write shorter titles, for example”.

No conclusion should be drawn before further investigation.

Meanwhile, finding a good title is always a good idea 🙂