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Selecting an Appropriate Research Paper Title

An important part of writing a research paper is choosing an effective and interesting title. There are some techniques you can use to craft great titles for your papers. Here are some things you should consider about titles in general:

  1. A title is a description of the contents of your paper
  2. Your title distinguishes your paper from other papers on the same topic
  3. Your title’s objective is to capture the reader’s interest and hold their attention
  4. Your title should match search queries people use to find information so they would find your title and hopefully cite your paper.

Electronic search and publishing is becoming increasingly important in research, so it makes number 4 above more important than we previously thought. It’s a great way to expand your vision and make your name know in research circles within your subject.

Ask yourself what would catch your attention if you were the person trying to decide whether to read your research paper or not. Does your title beg the reader to learn more? Does it compel them to keep reading?

Titles should be no more than approximately 15 to 20 words. This is just enough to spark an interest in the paper and give potential readers an idea of what information is included in the paper. Long and complicated titles may turn off the reader before they even begin to read any of it. At the same time, a short title that doesn’t give enough detail won’t create any interest.

Some guidelines suggest that the writer use the thesis or hypothesis as the foundation for the title. Make a definitive statement from your conclusions that embodies the main idea of your research paper and then use that to craft your title.

You can also ask for some help from your instructor for title selection. Sometimes librarians are good to get advice from as well if your instructor is not available. As a good practice in writing titles, you could craft 3 or 4 titles and then get some people who’ve read your paper to vote on which title they think is the most applicable. It could be well worth your effort to do this.