Can a Research Title Be a Question? Real-World Examples

I analyzed a random sample of 9,830 full-text research papers, uploaded to PubMed Central between the years 2016 and 2021, to answer the questions:

Can a research title be a question? And do questions make good titles?

I used the BioC API to download the data (see the References section below).

Popularity of question titles

It is not that popular for a research title to be a question. In fact, only 3.2% of titles in our sample contained a question mark (n=314 out of 9,830 titles).

The titles of review articles (systematic reviews and meta-analyses) are slightly more likely to be phrased as questions than those of original research articles (4.3% versus 3%)

Examples of question titles in PubMed

Example #1:.

“Why do I need it? I am not at risk! Public perceptions towards the pandemic (H1N1) 2009 vaccine” Link to the article on PubMed

Example #2:

“Enterohepatic Helicobacter in Ulcerative Colitis: Potential Pathogenic Entities?” Link to the article on PubMed

Example #3:

“Individual Participant Data Meta-Analysis for a Binary Outcome: One-Stage or Two-Stage?” Link to the article on PubMed

Example #4:

“How to Design the Control Group in Randomized Controlled Trials of Acupuncture?” Link to the article on PubMed

Example #5:

“Which Genetics Variants in DNase-Seq Footprints Are More Likely to Alter Binding?” Link to the article on PubMed

Example #6:

“Does Tai Chi relieve fatigue? A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials” Link to the article on PubMed

Length of question titles

Question titles were slightly longer than other types of titles. The median question title was 17 words long (IQR=7 words) compared to 16 words (IQR=6 words) for non-question titles:

Question titles
(n=314 titles)
Other types of titles
(n=9,516 titles)
25th percentile14 words13 words
Median17 words16 words
75th percentile21 words19 words

Do questions attract more citations?

According to our data, I found no evidence that question titles attract more citations. On the contrary, the median article with a question mark in its title had 2 citations per year, compared to a median of 2.2 citations per year for articles without a question mark in their titles.

Do high-quality journals publish question titles?

In our sample, question titles were published in journals with slightly lower impact factors than non-question titles (median impact factor of 2.5 versus 2.7).

So, journals with high impact factors are less likely to publish question titles.

  • Comeau DC, Wei CH, Islamaj Doğan R, and Lu Z. PMC text mining subset in BioC: about 3 million full text articles and growing,  Bioinformatics , btz070, 2019.

Further reading

  • How to Start a Research Title? Examples from 105,975 Titles
  • How Long Should a Research Title Be? Data from 104,161 Examples
  • How Many References to Cite? Based on 96,685 Research Papers
  • How Old Should References Be? Based on 3,823,919 Examples

Logo for Dr Anna Clemens PhD who teaches scientific writing courses for researchers

How to Write a Title for Your Research Paper – The 10 Most Common Mistakes

How to Write a Title for Your Research Paper – The 10 Most Common Mistakes

The title of your research paper is your shop front. If it doesn’t appeal to your reader they won’t read further. Here are 10 common mistakes I see researchers make when they choose a title for their research paper. Make sure to not be one of them!

How many references did you discard after reading the title the last time you made a literature search? And how often have you wasted time because the paper you retrieved wasn’t about what it seemed to promise? Exactly… 

And think about this: When a journal editor assesses your paper, they are also likely to read the title first. So, that’s your chance to make a first impression. Surely, you don’t want to confuse, or — even worse — annoy them.

How to write a title for a research paper: Mistakes to avoid

In the Researchers’ Writing Academy, our academic writing online course, we teach researchers how to write an effective title for a research paper and give feedback. Here are the ten most common mistakes I found researchers make in the titles of their research papers:

1. The title doesn’t describe the main result of the paper

Different from headlines in magazines and newspapers, the title of a research paper isn’t as much a teaser. Your reader wants to know what exactly you added to the field. It isn’t enough to just give them hint about the general topic area.

For this, it is important to know your main message. In fact, this is crucial for the whole paper writing process and is one of the very first steps of the system for writing papers that we teach inside the Researchers’ Writing Academy .

You might also be interested to know that papers with titles that describe the result are more likely to get picked up by the press or discussed on social media .

2. The title contains too much detail

This happens either when people want to cram in too much information, or when they are unclear about their main message. Sometimes authors also try to convey several key messages instead of focusing on the main one.

Click here to take the free class on academic writing

Does writing for a high-impact journal feel intimidating? Partly because you’ve never received proper academic writing training?

In this free online training, Dr Anna Clemens introduces you to her template to write papers in a systematic fashion — demystifying the process of writing for journals with wide audiences.

3. The title is too long

Long titles take longer to read and comprehend. A study found that papers get more views and citations if the title contains fewer than 95 characters.

4. The title is unspecific

If you provide a title that isn’t very specific, your reader won’t know if your article provides what they are looking for. Here, it counts to maintain a balance between being general enough for your target audience (see mistake 9) and specific enough to convey your key result (see mistake 1). Being specific in your title is also important for indexing purposes. So, make sure to provide the most important keyword(s) of your paper in the title.

5. The title contains question marks, hyphens and colons

By phrasing your title as a question, you merely present your research question instead of your key message. If people include a colon or hyphen in their title they often present too much detail (mistake 2) or they chose a title too broad and general (mistake 4). If you need more convincing, the study I cited earlier also found that papers receive fewer citations if they contain question marks, hyphens or colons.  

6. The title is too noun-heavy

You only have seconds to tell potential readers what your study is about. So, it’s important to make it easy for them. If your title is full of nouns, it will take your reader longer to read and comprehend than if it contains a verb. Chances are your reader will just give up without even considering opening your paper. However, not all journals permit using active verbs (“Eating spinach strengthens the teeth” – I made this up). Therefore, be sure to check the journal guidelines (see also mistake 10).

can your research paper title be a question

7. The title contains unnecessary filler words

The goal is to make your title as short as possible (see mistake 2). Don’t waste the space with phrases such as “an observation of” or “a study of” or filler words such as “on…” (as in “On the energy efficiency of solar cells…”). Tell the reader instead what you observed or what your study found (see mistake 1). Be specific about your result (see mistake 4).

8. Using acronyms in the title

A general rule is to always spell out acronyms. If your reader doesn’t know what an acronym means they are more likely to discard your paper. Nobody wants to do extra research. That said, it’s worth knowing your target audience. Perhaps there are some abbreviations or acronyms that you can expect the readership of the journal to know?

9.  The level of jargon doesn’t match the target audience

This is linked to the previous point (mistake 8). Always consider the audience of the journal you intend to publish in. If it is read by biologists, geologists, chemists and physicists all the same, you need to make sure they can all understand your title. Just be careful to not make your title too general, it should still reflect your specific result (see mistake 2).

10.  The title doesn’t adhere to the journal guidelines

Something I always suggest my clients to do before they start writing is to check the journal guidelines. Most journals have either strict rules or recommendations on how long a title should be and what they should or shouldn’t contain. For example, Nature doesn’t permit any acronyms, punctuation, technical terms  or active verbs .

There you have it. If you want to see examples of good research paper titles and get customised feedback on your title, join us inside the Researchers’ Writing Academy ! Check if this online course is a good fit for you by taking the free training class. 👇

can your research paper title be a question

Share article

© Copyright 2018-2024 by Anna Clemens. All Rights Reserved. 

Photography by Alice Dix

can your research paper title be a question

help for assessment

  • Customer Reviews
  • Extended Essays
  • IB Internal Assessment
  • Theory of Knowledge
  • Literature Review
  • Dissertations
  • Essay Writing
  • Research Writing
  • Assignment Help
  • Capstone Projects
  • College Application
  • Online Class

Can a Research Paper Title Be a Question?

Author Image

by  Antony W

June 6, 2024

can research paper title be a question

We’ve been writing research papers for long enough to know that the title is one of the most important sections of the assignment. In fact, readers first look at the title of the paper to determine whether the research work is worth reading.

If you want to grab the attention of your lecturer or professor and get them to read the rest of your research work, spare some to write a title that stands out.

A well thought out research paper title is one that summarizes the idea(s) of your study. In the fewest words possible, the title should describe the purpose of the research and make it easy for you audience to know the focus of the research.

Many research paper titles are usually in the form of statements that give readers the clue on what the research work focused on. So can research paper titles be questions or should you stick to statements instead?

Research paper titles can be questions provided they provide enough information on the focus of the work. The questions shouldn’t be long or short. Rather, they should have the right word limit to communicate the central message of the paper.

In other words, readers should read the question title and know immediately what the research paper is.

Can Research Paper Titles Be Questions?

question title for research paper

The title of a research paper can be a question provided it can draw the attention of the reader to the problem you wish to investigate. By looking at the purpose of the research, the tone of the narrative, and the research method used, it should be easy to construct a question title for the research project.

When Should You Write the Title? 

You’ll create two types of titles for your research paper: a working title and a final title.

1. The Working Title 

You’ll create a working title first. Doing so is important because it’s the only possible way to anchor the focus of your study on the specific research problem. With this title, you can as stick to the main purpose of the study and easily find your way back on track should you lose focus a bit.

2. The Final Title 

You will derive the final title from the research you conducted and it’s what you will replace the working title with before submitting your research paper for review.

The following are some of the characteristics of a well-constructed final title for a research paper assignment:

  • Have a word limit of between 10 and 15 words, which is enough to tell what the paper focuses on.
  • It describes the subject under investigation and shows the scope of the study 
  • The title uses impressive words that spark readers’ interest and easily grab their attention to read the rest of the paper
  • It doesn’t use abbreviations
  • The title of the document may identify the most significant independent and dependent variables
  • Title can give a strong suggestion of the relationship between one variable and another and support a particular hypothesis .
  • It doesn’t include “an analysis of”, “a study of”, or similar generic constructions.
  • All the first words of the research paper titles, including adjectives, verbs, and nouns, should be uppercase.

How Long Should a Research Paper Title Question Be? 

length of research paper question title

A research paper title shouldn’t be too long or too short. It should have the right number of words to communicate the intended message.

On the one hand, short titles fail to provide enough information on the focus of the research paper. A two-word title such as “African Politics” would make no sense here.

On the other hand, long titles tend to have unnecessary words that don’t add meaning to the title of the research paper.

Keep in mind that research questions have to be specific. That means your title will be addressing a particular issue within a broad topic.

Can I Use Subtitles in a Research Paper? 

using subtitles in research paper

Subtitles are handy in writing because they break down big chunks of paragraphs and make content east to read. They also break the monotony of reading walls of texts because they transition readers from an issue to another within the subject under investigation.

You can use subtitles (subheadings) throughout your research paper for the following reasons:

1. Provide Additional Content  

Some section of your research paper will need additional context for clarity and coherence. You can use subtitles to provide the additional information, making it easy for your reader to find the information that they would have otherwise thought is missing.

2. Explaining Ideas 

If you have multiple ideas in your research paper and you believe it would make a difference if you provided more information about each idea, consider using subheadings in the research paper.

The subtitles will generally make it easy for you to investigate each idea or theory independently, hence clarity.

Our Take On Research Paper Titles in Question Format 

Our take

Researchers suggest that the title of your research paper should be in the form of statement and informative enough to grab the attention of the reader. The argument is that statement titles are effective in providing accurate overview about your research and the expected outcome.

Another argument is that readers opt to read research papers because they’re looking for answers to questions, therefore making titles that are in question form rather unappealing.

Based on what we understand, however, there are no specific academic guidelines that bar students from using questions as titles for their research papers. So provided the title in the question format captures the essence of your research and engages the target audience.

Get Research Paper Writing Help 

Writing a research paper can be challenging and time consume. Even if you know all the elements of the paper, and you can do research and write the paper, you may still find the work overwhelming given your other assignments.

Don’t worry because we’re here to help. Get our  research paper writing service here and let us help you get the work done.

About the author 

Antony W is a professional writer and coach at Help for Assessment. He spends countless hours every day researching and writing great content filled with expert advice on how to write engaging essays, research papers, and assignments.

How to Write a Good Research Paper Title: Tips and Examples

Learn how to create good titles for research papers with our comprehensive guide. Discover tips, techniques, and examples to make your research stand out.

can your research paper title be a question

Kate Windsor

Jun 16, 2024

How to Write a Good Research Paper Title: Tips and Examples

Writing a research paper is a crucial part of academic life, but crafting a compelling title can be just as important as the content itself. A good research paper title not only captures the essence of your work but also attracts potential readers and helps your paper stand out in a sea of academic literature. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the importance of good titles for research papers, provide tips on creating effective titles, and share examples to inspire your own title-writing process.

Understanding the Importance of a Research Paper Title

Why a good research paper title matters.

A suitable research paper title matters because:

a) It draws readers in and makes a research study stand out.

b) An effective research paper title is less likely to be overlooked.

c) It contributes to the professionalism and impact of the research.

According to a study by Jamali and Nikzad (2011), articles with shorter titles tend to be downloaded more often than those with longer titles. This highlights the importance of creating concise and engaging titles for your research papers.

Dr. John Smith, a renowned professor of psychology, states on research titles, "The title of a research paper is the first thing that readers, including peer reviewers and journal editors, will see. It's crucial to make a strong first impression with a clear, concise, and compelling title."

mobile mockup listening.com

The role of a title in a research paper

A research title plays a critical role in the research process as it:

a) Facilitates the dissemination of knowledge.

b) Contributes to the professionalism and impact of the research.

c) Serves as a critical component of the overall research communication process.

Moreover, a well-crafted and good title or a good research title can increase the chances of your research paper being accepted for publication in your target journal or a reputable journal. Editors and reviewers often use the title as a first screening tool to determine the relevance and quality of the research.

Crafting a Compelling Research Paper Title

can your research paper title be a question

Identifying research study keywords for a strong title

Research titles matter. The best research paper title starts with:

a) Finding the most important parts of your research questions.

b) Choosing only the most important terms for your keywords.

c) Drawing 3 to 8 keywords maximum, avoiding very lengthy titles.

When selecting keywords for your research paper title, consider using tools like Google Keyword Planner or SEMrush to identify high-traffic, relevant keywords in your field of study.

Look at social science research papers or for example, looking at a research paper in the field of environmental science might have a title like: "The Impact of Deforestation on Biodiversity: A Meta-Analysis of Neotropical Rainforests." This title effectively uses keywords such as "deforestation," "biodiversity," and "Neotropical rainforests" to convey the main focus of the research.

Using keywords to create a working research paper title

Descriptive research titles draw keywords.

a) Use the identified keywords to create a research title

b) Ensure the title accurately captures what you have done

c) Keep the title concise and relevant

Easily pronounces technical words in any field

Characteristics of Effective Research Paper Titles

Key qualities of a good research paper title.

A good research title should have the elements below to make it stand out.

a) A good research title should be concise and to the point

b) Accurately reflects or the research title describes the content of the research paper.

c) Easy to understand and remember.

d) Unique and not easily confused with other research titles.

What makes a research paper title stand out

A good title should:

a. Predict the content of the research paper.

b. Be interesting to the reader.

c. Reflect the tone of the writing.

d. Contain important keywords for easier location during a keyword search.

Supporting Evidence:

A study by Habibzadeh and Yadollahie (2010) found that articles with questions in their titles are more likely to be cited than those without. Consider incorporating a question into your research paper title to pique readers' curiosity and encourage engagement.

For instance, a research paper in a particular academic journal like the field of psychology might have a title like: "Can Mindfulness Meditation Reduce Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression? A Randomized Controlled Trial." This title effectively uses a question to grab the reader's attention and clearly conveys the main focus of the research.

Writing a Research Paper Title that Grabs Attention

can your research paper title be a question

Techniques for crafting a compelling research paper title

a) Use a clear and concise format, such as [method] study of [topic] among [sample].

b) Use keywords from the research topic to make the title more discoverable.

c) Keep the title short and to the point, avoiding unnecessary words or phrases.

When writing your research paper title, consider the writing tips and best practices for writing scientific papers to ensure your title is effective and engaging.

Avoiding common mistakes in research paper titles

a) Avoid using abbreviations or acronyms unless they are commonly used in the field and are essential to convey the research focus.

b) Eliminate any nonessential words and phrases from your title.

c) Aim for a word count of 16 words or fewer.

The Role of Subtitles in Research Paper Titles

When to use a subtitle and how to write one effectively.

Add a subtitle after a colon to provide more immediate details about methodology or sample. Be aware of the specific journal author instructions for research paper titles.

If your research paper includes an annex , consider mentioning it in the subtitle to provide additional context for your readers.

Examples of Good Research Paper Titles

Analyzing effective research paper titles.

Titles can be interesting but incomplete, complete but uninteresting, or too informal in tone

Examples of research paper titles that work

Good titles that are concise and contain all relevant terms increase citation counts and Altmetric scores.

Here are a few examples of effective research paper titles:

  • " The Impact of Social Media on Adolescent Mental Health: A Systematic Review ". This title effectively uses keywords such as "social media," "adolescent," and "mental health" to convey the main focus of the research. The use of "systematic review" indicates the comprehensive nature of the study.
  • " Exploring the Relationship Between Exercise and Cognitive Function in Older Adults ". This title clearly states the main variables being investigated (exercise and cognitive function) and the specific population (older adults). It is concise and easy to understand.
  • " Evaluating the Effectiveness of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction in Chronic Pain Management ". This title effectively communicates the intervention being studied (mindfulness-based stress reduction) and the specific application (chronic pain management). It is specific and informative.
  • " The Role of Exosomes in Cancer Progression: A Comprehensive Review ". This title uses keywords such as "exosomes" and "cancer progression" to convey the main focus of the research. The use of "comprehensive review" indicates the depth and breadth of the study.
  • " Machine Learning Approaches for Predicting Stock Market Trends: A Comparative Analysis ". This title effectively communicates the main techniques being investigated (machine learning approaches) and the specific application (predicting stock market trends). The use of "comparative analysis" suggests that different approaches will be evaluated and compared.

Refining Your Research Paper Title

Refining your title: removing nonessential words and phrases.

Eliminate any nonessential words and phrases from your title and keep the title concise and relevant. Aim for a word count of 16 words or fewer.

Getting feedback on your research paper title

Consider delegating your most complex tasks to skilled writers. Get feedback from peers, mentors, or editors to refine your title.

When refining your research paper title, consider the order of authors and how it may impact the perceived importance of each contributor.

It is crucial to seek feedback and guidance from your advisors and colleagues when refining your research paper title. They can provide valuable insights and help ensure that your title accurately represents your research and aligns with the requirements of your specific academic discipline. Don't hesitate to reach out to your network for support and advice throughout the title-writing process.

Final Tips for a Good Research Paper Title

Additional tips for writing a good research paper title.

Keep in mind the formatting, word count, and content when writing a research paper title and aim for a concise and relevant title. Use a good research paper title to make a significant difference in the success of a research study

In her book "Stylish Academic Writing," Helen Sword (2012) emphasizes the importance of crafting engaging and informative titles to capture readers' attention and effectively communicate the content of your research.

Best practices for research paper titles

A good research paper title should be concise, informative, and accurately represent the content and purpose of the study. Paperpal can help generate outstanding research titles in a click.

Consider the UK's Research Excellence Framework when crafting your title. The UK's Research Excellence Framework (REF) is a system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions.

When crafting your research paper title, consider how it aligns with the REF's criteria for research quality, which include originality, significance, and rigor. A well-crafted title that effectively communicates the value and impact of your research can contribute to a stronger REF submission.

Joshua Schimel's "Writing Science: How to Write Papers That Get Cited and Proposals That Get Funded" (2012) provides valuable insights into the art of scientific writing, including the importance of creating compelling research paper titles that accurately reflect the content and significance of your work.

Additional Resources for Crafting Effective Research Paper Titles:

1. The Academic Phrasebank - A useful resource for finding appropriate phrases and terminology for your research paper title.

2. Paperpal Title Generator - An online tool that helps generate effective research paper titles based on your keywords and research focus.

In conclusion, writing a good research paper title is a critical aspect of the research process, as it can significantly impact the visibility and success of your work. By understanding the importance of titles, following best practices, and refining your title based on feedback, you can create compelling titles that accurately represent your research and attract the attention of your target audience. Whether you're conducting theoretical research or applied research , a well-crafted title is essential for effectively communicating your findings to the scientific community.

As Michael Alley notes in his book "The Craft of Scientific Writing" (2018), a well-written research paper title not only captures the essence of your work but also serves as a critical tool for attracting readers and increasing the impact of your research.

Research Paper Optimization

Effective Research Titles

Research Paper Writing

Title Writing Tips

Academic Writing

Research Paper Titles

Recent articles

can your research paper title be a question

Best Business Schools in the US

can your research paper title be a question

Glice Martineau

Jul 10, 2024

Graduate School

United States of America

Business School

can your research paper title be a question

When Does College Start in the US?

can your research paper title be a question

College search tools

College admissions guide

College planning tips

College academic calendar

Summer term

Quarter system calendar

Spring semester start

Fall semester start

College start dates

When does college start

can your research paper title be a question

How to Apply to Graduate School? Practical and Helpful Tips

can your research paper title be a question

Derek Pankaew

Jul 11, 2024

#GradSchoolApplication

#GraduateSchool

#HigherEducation

#AdmissionTips

#PersonalStatement

can your research paper title be a question

9 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting a PhD

#AcademicJourney

#GradSchoolTips

#PhDStudentLife

#ResearchAndMentorship

  • USC Libraries
  • Research Guides

Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper

  • Choosing a Title
  • Purpose of Guide
  • Design Flaws to Avoid
  • Independent and Dependent Variables
  • Glossary of Research Terms
  • Reading Research Effectively
  • Narrowing a Topic Idea
  • Broadening a Topic Idea
  • Extending the Timeliness of a Topic Idea
  • Academic Writing Style
  • Applying Critical Thinking
  • Making an Outline
  • Paragraph Development
  • Research Process Video Series
  • Executive Summary
  • The C.A.R.S. Model
  • Background Information
  • The Research Problem/Question
  • Theoretical Framework
  • Citation Tracking
  • Content Alert Services
  • Evaluating Sources
  • Primary Sources
  • Secondary Sources
  • Tiertiary Sources
  • Scholarly vs. Popular Publications
  • Qualitative Methods
  • Quantitative Methods
  • Insiderness
  • Using Non-Textual Elements
  • Limitations of the Study
  • Common Grammar Mistakes
  • Writing Concisely
  • Avoiding Plagiarism
  • Footnotes or Endnotes?
  • Further Readings
  • Generative AI and Writing
  • USC Libraries Tutorials and Other Guides
  • Bibliography

The title summarizes the main idea or ideas of your study. A good title contains the fewest possible words needed to adequately describe the content and/or purpose of your research paper.

Importance of Choosing a Good Title

The title is the part of a paper that is read the most, and it is usually read first . It is, therefore, the most important element that defines the research study. With this in mind, avoid the following when creating a title:

  • If the title is too long, this usually indicates there are too many unnecessary words. Avoid language, such as, "A Study to Investigate the...," or "An Examination of the...." These phrases are obvious and generally superfluous unless they are necessary to covey the scope, intent, or type of a study.
  • On the other hand, a title which is too short often uses words which are too broad and, thus, does not tell the reader what is being studied. For example, a paper with the title, "African Politics" is so non-specific the title could be the title of a book and so ambiguous that it could refer to anything associated with politics in Africa. A good title should provide information about the focus and/or scope of your research study.
  • In academic writing, catchy phrases or non-specific language may be used, but only if it's within the context of the study [e.g., "Fair and Impartial Jury--Catch as Catch Can"]. However, in most cases, you should avoid including words or phrases that do not help the reader understand the purpose of your paper.
  • Academic writing is a serious and deliberate endeavor. Avoid using humorous or clever journalistic styles of phrasing when creating the title to your paper. Journalistic headlines often use emotional adjectives [e.g., incredible, amazing, effortless] to highlight a problem experienced by the reader or use "trigger words" or interrogative words like how, what, when, or why to persuade people to read the article or click on a link. These approaches are viewed as counter-productive in academic writing. A reader does not need clever or humorous titles to catch their attention because the act of reading research is assumed to be deliberate based on a desire to learn and improve understanding of the problem. In addition, a humorous title can merely detract from the seriousness and authority of your research. 
  • Unlike everywhere else in a college-level social sciences research paper [except when using direct quotes in the text], titles do not have to adhere to rigid grammatical or stylistic standards. For example, it could be appropriate to begin a title with a coordinating conjunction [i.e., and, but, or, nor, for, so, yet] if it makes sense to do so and does not detract from the purpose of the study [e.g., "Yet Another Look at Mutual Fund Tournaments"] or beginning the title with an inflected form of a verb such as those ending in -ing [e.g., "Assessing the Political Landscape: Structure, Cognition, and Power in Organizations"].

Appiah, Kingsley Richard et al. “Structural Organisation of Research Article Titles: A Comparative Study of Titles of Business, Gynaecology and Law.” Advances in Language and Literary Studies 10 (2019); Hartley James. “To Attract or to Inform: What are Titles for?” Journal of Technical Writing and Communication 35 (2005): 203-213; Jaakkola, Maarit. “Journalistic Writing and Style.” In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Communication . Jon F. Nussbaum, editor. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2018): https://oxfordre.com/communication.

Structure and Writing Style

The following parameters can be used to help you formulate a suitable research paper title:

  • The purpose of the research
  • The scope of the research
  • The narrative tone of the paper [typically defined by the type of the research]
  • The methods used to study the problem

The initial aim of a title is to capture the reader’s attention and to highlight the research problem under investigation.

Create a Working Title Typically, the final title you submit to your professor is created after the research is complete so that the title accurately captures what has been done . The working title should be developed early in the research process because it can help anchor the focus of the study in much the same way the research problem does. Referring back to the working title can help you reorient yourself back to the main purpose of the study if you find yourself drifting off on a tangent while writing. The Final Title Effective titles in research papers have several characteristics that reflect general principles of academic writing.

  • Indicate accurately the subject and scope of the study,
  • Rarely use abbreviations or acronyms unless they are commonly known,
  • Use words that create a positive impression and stimulate reader interest,
  • Use current nomenclature from the field of study,
  • Identify key variables, both dependent and independent,
  • Reveal how the paper will be organized,
  • Suggest a relationship between variables which supports the major hypothesis,
  • Is limited to 5 to 15 substantive words,
  • Does not include redundant phrasing, such as, "A Study of," "An Analysis of" or similar constructions,
  • Takes the form of a question or declarative statement,
  • If you use a quote as part of the title, the source of the quote is cited [usually using an asterisk and footnote],
  • Use correct grammar and capitalization with all first words and last words capitalized, including the first word of a subtitle. All nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs that appear between the first and last words of the title are also capitalized, and
  • Rarely uses an exclamation mark at the end of the title.

The Subtitle Subtitles are frequently used in social sciences research papers because it helps the reader understand the scope of the study in relation to how it was designed to address the research problem. Think about what type of subtitle listed below reflects the overall approach to your study and whether you believe a subtitle is needed to emphasize the investigative parameters of your research.

1.  Explains or provides additional context , e.g., "Linguistic Ethnography and the Study of Welfare Institutions as a Flow of Social Practices: The Case of Residential Child Care Institutions as Paradoxical Institutions." [Palomares, Manuel and David Poveda.  Text & Talk: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Language, Discourse and Communication Studies 30 (January 2010): 193-212]

2.  Adds substance to a literary, provocative, or imaginative title or quote , e.g., "Listen to What I Say, Not How I Vote": Congressional Support for the President in Washington and at Home." [Grose, Christian R. and Keesha M. Middlemass. Social Science Quarterly 91 (March 2010): 143-167]

3.  Qualifies the geographic scope of the research , e.g., "The Geopolitics of the Eastern Border of the European Union: The Case of Romania-Moldova-Ukraine." [Marcu, Silvia. Geopolitics 14 (August 2009): 409-432]

4.  Qualifies the temporal scope of the research , e.g., "A Comparison of the Progressive Era and the Depression Years: Societal Influences on Predictions of the Future of the Library, 1895-1940." [Grossman, Hal B. Libraries & the Cultural Record 46 (2011): 102-128]

5.  Focuses on investigating the ideas, theories, or work of a particular individual , e.g., "A Deliberative Conception of Politics: How Francesco Saverio Merlino Related Anarchy and Democracy." [La Torre, Massimo. Sociologia del Diritto 28 (January 2001): 75 - 98]

6.  Identifies the methodology used , e.g. "Student Activism of the 1960s Revisited: A Multivariate Analysis Research Note." [Aron, William S. Social Forces 52 (March 1974): 408-414]

7.  Defines the overarching technique for analyzing the research problem , e.g., "Explaining Territorial Change in Federal Democracies: A Comparative Historical Institutionalist Approach." [ Tillin, Louise. Political Studies 63 (August 2015): 626-641.

With these examples in mind, think about what type of subtitle reflects the overall approach to your study. This will help the reader understand the scope of the study in relation to how it was designed to address the research problem.

Anstey, A. “Writing Style: What's in a Title?” British Journal of Dermatology 170 (May 2014): 1003-1004; Balch, Tucker. How to Compose a Title for Your Research Paper. Augmented Trader blog. School of Interactive Computing, Georgia Tech University; Bavdekar, Sandeep B. “Formulating the Right Title for a Research Article.” Journal of Association of Physicians of India 64 (February 2016); Choosing the Proper Research Paper Titles. AplusReports.com, 2007-2012; Eva, Kevin W. “Titles, Abstracts, and Authors.” In How to Write a Paper . George M. Hall, editor. 5th edition. (Oxford: John Wiley and Sons, 2013), pp. 33-41; Hartley James. “To Attract or to Inform: What are Titles for?” Journal of Technical Writing and Communication 35 (2005): 203-213; General Format. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Kerkut G.A. “Choosing a Title for a Paper.” Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A: Physiology 74 (1983): 1; “Tempting Titles.” In Stylish Academic Writing . Helen Sword, editor. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012), pp. 63-75; Nundy, Samiran, et al. “How to Choose a Title?” In How to Practice Academic Medicine and Publish from Developing Countries? A Practical Guide . Edited by Samiran Nundy, Atul Kakar, and Zulfiqar A. Bhutta. (Springer Singapore, 2022), pp. 185-192.

  • << Previous: Applying Critical Thinking
  • Next: Making an Outline >>
  • Last Updated: Jul 3, 2024 10:07 AM
  • URL: https://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide

When you choose to publish with PLOS, your research makes an impact. Make your work accessible to all, without restrictions, and accelerate scientific discovery with options like preprints and published peer review that make your work more Open.

  • PLOS Biology
  • PLOS Climate
  • PLOS Complex Systems
  • PLOS Computational Biology
  • PLOS Digital Health
  • PLOS Genetics
  • PLOS Global Public Health
  • PLOS Medicine
  • PLOS Mental Health
  • PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
  • PLOS Pathogens
  • PLOS Sustainability and Transformation
  • PLOS Collections
  • How to Write a Great Title

Title

Maximize search-ability and engage your readers from the very beginning

Your title is the first thing anyone who reads your article is going to see, and for many it will be where they stop reading. Learn how to write a title that helps readers find your article, draws your audience in and sets the stage for your research!

How your title impacts the success of your article

Researchers are busy and there will always be more articles to read than time to read them.  Good titles help readers find your research, and decide whether to keep reading. Search engines use titles to retrieve relevant articles based on users’ keyword searches. Once readers find your article, they’ll use the title as the first filter to decide whether your research is what they’re looking for. A strong and specific title is the first step toward citations, inclusion in meta-analyses, and influencing your field. 

can your research paper title be a question

What to include in a title

Include the most important information that will signal to your target audience that they should keep reading.

Key information about the study design

Important keywords

What you discovered

Writing tips

Getting the title right can be more difficult than it seems, and researchers refine their writing skills throughout their career. Some journals even help editors to re-write their titles during the publication process! 

can your research paper title be a question

  • Keep it concise and informative What’s appropriate for titles varies greatly across disciplines. Take a look at some articles published in your field, and check the journal guidelines for character limits. Aim for fewer than 12 words, and check for journal specific word limits.
  • Write for your audience Consider who your primary audience is: are they specialists in your specific field, are they cross-disciplinary, are they non-specialists?
  • Entice the reader Find a way to pique your readers’ interest, give them enough information to keep them reading.
  • Incorporate important keywords Consider what about your article will be most interesting to your audience: Most readers come to an article from a search engine, so take some time and include the important ones in your title!
  • Write in sentence case In scientific writing, titles are given in sentence case. Capitalize only the first word of the text, proper nouns, and genus names. See our examples below.

can your research paper title be a question

Don’t

  • Write your title as a question In most cases, you shouldn’t need to frame your title as a question. You have the answers, you know what you found. Writing your title as a question might draw your readers in, but it’s more likely to put them off.
  • Sensationalize your research Be honest with yourself about what you truly discovered. A sensationalized or dramatic title might make a few extra people read a bit further into your article, but you don’t want them disappointed when they get to the results.

Examples…

Format: Prevalence of [disease] in [population] in [location]

Example: Prevalence of tuberculosis in homeless women in San Francisco

Format: Risk factors for [condition] among [population] in [location]

Example: Risk factors for preterm births among low-income women in Mexico City

Format (systematic review/meta-analysis): Effectiveness of [treatment] for [disease] in [population] for [outcome] : A systematic review and meta-analysis

Example: Effectiveness of Hepatitis B treatment in HIV-infected adolescents in the prevention of liver disease: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Format (clinical trial): [Intervention] improved [symptoms] of [disease] in [population] : A randomized controlled clinical trial

Example: Using a sleep app lessened insomnia in post-menopausal women in southwest United States: A randomized controlled clinical trial

Format  (general molecular studies): Characterization/identification/evaluation of [molecule name] in/from [organism/tissue] (b y [specific biological methods] ) 

Example: Identification of putative Type-I sex pheromone biosynthesis-related genes expressed in the female pheromone gland of Streltzoviella insularis

Format  (general molecular studies): [specific methods/analysis] of organism/tissue reveal insights into [function/role] of [molecule name] in [biological process]  

Example: Transcriptome landscape of Rafflesia cantleyi floral buds reveals insights into the roles of transcription factors and phytohormones in flower development

Format  (software/method papers): [tool/method/software] for [what purpose] in [what research area]

Example: CRISPR-based tools for targeted transcriptional and epigenetic regulation in plants

Tip: How to edit your work

Editing is challenging, especially if you are acting as both a writer and an editor. Read our guidelines for advice on how to refine your work, including useful tips for setting your intentions, re-review, and consultation with colleagues.

  • How to Write an Abstract
  • How to Write Your Methods
  • How to Report Statistics
  • How to Write Discussions and Conclusions
  • How to Edit Your Work

The contents of the Peer Review Center are also available as a live, interactive training session, complete with slides, talking points, and activities. …

The contents of the Writing Center are also available as a live, interactive training session, complete with slides, talking points, and activities. …

There’s a lot to consider when deciding where to submit your work. Learn how to choose a journal that will help your study reach its audience, while reflecting your values as a researcher…

  • Privacy Policy

Research Method

Home » Research Paper Title – Writing Guide and Example

Research Paper Title – Writing Guide and Example

Table of Contents

Research Paper Title

Research Paper Title

Research Paper Title is the name or heading that summarizes the main theme or topic of a research paper . It serves as the first point of contact between the reader and the paper, providing an initial impression of the content, purpose, and scope of the research . A well-crafted research paper title should be concise, informative, and engaging, accurately reflecting the key elements of the study while also capturing the reader’s attention and interest. The title should be clear and easy to understand, and it should accurately convey the main focus and scope of the research paper.

Examples of Research Paper Title

Here are some Good Examples of Research Paper Title:

  • “Investigating the Relationship Between Sleep Duration and Academic Performance Among College Students”
  • “The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Employment: A Systematic Review”
  • “The Effectiveness of Mindfulness-Based Interventions for Anxiety: A Meta-Analysis”
  • “Exploring the Effects of Social Support on Mental Health in Patients with Chronic Illness”
  • “Assessing the Effectiveness of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Depression: A Randomized Controlled Trial”
  • “The Impact of Social Media Influencers on Consumer Behavior: A Systematic Review”
  • “Investigating the Link Between Personality Traits and Leadership Effectiveness”
  • “The Effect of Parental Incarceration on Child Development: A Longitudinal Study”
  • “Exploring the Relationship Between Cultural Intelligence and Cross-Cultural Adaptation: A Meta-Analysis”
  • “Assessing the Effectiveness of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Chronic Pain Management”.
  • “The Effects of Social Media on Mental Health: A Meta-Analysis”
  • “The Impact of Climate Change on Global Crop Yields: A Longitudinal Study”
  • “Exploring the Relationship between Parental Involvement and Academic Achievement in Elementary School Students”
  • “The Ethics of Genetic Editing: A Review of Current Research and Implications for Society”
  • “Understanding the Role of Gender in Leadership: A Comparative Study of Male and Female CEOs”
  • “The Effect of Exercise on Cognitive Function in Older Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial”
  • “The Impacts of COVID-19 on Mental Health: A Cross-Cultural Comparison”
  • “Assessing the Effectiveness of Online Learning Platforms: A Case Study of Coursera”
  • “Exploring the Link between Employee Engagement and Organizational Performance”
  • “The Effects of Income Inequality on Social Mobility: A Comparative Analysis of OECD Countries”
  • “Exploring the Relationship Between Social Media Use and Mental Health in Adolescents”
  • “The Impact of Climate Change on Crop Yield: A Case Study of Maize Production in Sub-Saharan Africa”
  • “Examining the Effectiveness of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Anxiety Disorders: A Meta-Analysis”
  • “An Analysis of the Relationship Between Employee Job Satisfaction and Organizational Commitment”
  • “Assessing the Impacts of Wilderness Areas on Local Economies: A Case Study of Yellowstone National Park”
  • “The Role of Parental Involvement in Early Childhood Education: A Review of the Literature”
  • “Investigating the Effects of Technology on Learning in Higher Education”
  • “The Use of Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare: Opportunities and Challenges”
  • “A Study of the Relationship Between Personality Traits and Leadership Styles in Business Organizations”.

How to choose Research Paper Title

Choosing a research paper title is an important step in the research process. A good title can attract readers and convey the essence of your research in a concise and clear manner. Here are some tips on how to choose a research paper title:

  • Be clear and concise: A good title should convey the main idea of your research in a clear and concise manner. Avoid using jargon or technical language that may be confusing to readers.
  • Use keywords: Including keywords in your title can help readers find your paper when searching for related topics. Use specific, descriptive terms that accurately describe your research.
  • Be descriptive: A descriptive title can help readers understand what your research is about. Use adjectives and adverbs to convey the main ideas of your research.
  • Consider the audience : Think about the audience for your paper and choose a title that will appeal to them. If your paper is aimed at a specialized audience, you may want to use technical terms or jargon in your title.
  • Avoid being too general or too specific : A title that is too general may not convey the specific focus of your research, while a title that is too specific may not be of interest to a broader audience. Strive for a title that accurately reflects the focus of your research without being too narrow or too broad.
  • Make it interesting : A title that is interesting or provocative can capture the attention of readers and draw them into your research. Use humor, wordplay, or other creative techniques to make your title stand out.
  • Seek feedback: Ask colleagues or advisors for feedback on your title. They may be able to offer suggestions or identify potential problems that you hadn’t considered.

Purpose of Research Paper Title

The research paper title serves several important purposes, including:

  • Identifying the subject matter : The title of a research paper should clearly and accurately identify the topic or subject matter that the paper addresses. This helps readers quickly understand what the paper is about.
  • Catching the reader’s attention : A well-crafted title can grab the reader’s attention and make them interested in reading the paper. This is particularly important in academic settings where there may be many papers on the same topic.
  • Providing context: The title can provide important context for the research paper by indicating the specific area of study, the research methods used, or the key findings.
  • Communicating the scope of the paper: A good title can give readers an idea of the scope and depth of the research paper. This can help them decide if the paper is relevant to their interests or research.
  • Indicating the research question or hypothesis : The title can often indicate the research question or hypothesis that the paper addresses, which can help readers understand the focus of the research and the main argument or conclusion of the paper.

Advantages of Research Paper Title

The title of a research paper is an important component that can have several advantages, including:

  • Capturing the reader’s attention : A well-crafted research paper title can grab the reader’s attention and encourage them to read further. A captivating title can also increase the visibility of the paper and attract more readers.
  • Providing a clear indication of the paper’s focus: A well-written research paper title should clearly convey the main focus and purpose of the study. This helps potential readers quickly determine whether the paper is relevant to their interests.
  • Improving discoverability: A descriptive title that includes relevant keywords can improve the discoverability of the research paper in search engines and academic databases, making it easier for other researchers to find and cite.
  • Enhancing credibility : A clear and concise title can enhance the credibility of the research and the author. A title that accurately reflects the content of the paper can increase the confidence readers have in the research findings.
  • Facilitating communication: A well-written research paper title can facilitate communication among researchers, enabling them to quickly and easily identify relevant studies and engage in discussions related to the topic.
  • Making the paper easier to remember : An engaging and memorable research paper title can help readers remember the paper and its findings. This can be especially important in fields where researchers are constantly inundated with new information and need to quickly recall important studies.
  • Setting expectations: A good research paper title can set expectations for the reader and help them understand what the paper will cover. This can be especially important for readers who are unfamiliar with the topic or the research area.
  • Guiding research: A well-crafted research paper title can also guide future research by highlighting gaps in the current literature or suggesting new areas for investigation.
  • Demonstrating creativity: A creative research paper title can demonstrate the author’s creativity and originality, which can be appealing to readers and other researchers.

About the author

' src=

Muhammad Hassan

Researcher, Academic Writer, Web developer

You may also like

Significance of the Study

Significance of the Study – Examples and Writing...

Research Objectives

Research Objectives – Types, Examples and...

Research Design

Research Design – Types, Methods and Examples

APA Research Paper Format

APA Research Paper Format – Example, Sample and...

Research Methodology

Research Methodology – Types, Examples and...

Research Results

Research Results Section – Writing Guide and...

Enago Academy

6 Important Tips on Writing a Research Paper Title

' src=

When you are searching for a research study on a particular topic, you probably notice that articles with interesting, descriptive research titles draw you in. By contrast, research paper titles that are not descriptive are usually passed over, even though you may write a good research paper with interesting contents. This shows the importance of coming up with a good title for your research paper when drafting your own manuscript.

Importance of a Research Title

The research title plays a crucial role in the research process, and its importance can be summarized as follows:

Importance of a Research Title

Why do Research Titles Matter?

Before we look at how to title a research paper, let’s look at a research title example that illustrates why a good research paper should have a strong title.

Imagine that you are researching meditation and nursing, and you want to find out if any studies have shown that meditation makes nurses better communicators.  You conduct a keyword search using the keywords “nursing”, “communication”, and “meditation.” You come up with results that have the following titles:

  • Benefits of Meditation for the Nursing Profession: A Quantitative Investigation
  • Why Mindful Nurses Make the Best Communicators
  • Meditation Gurus
  • Nurses on the Move: A Quantitative Report on How Meditation Can Improve Nurse Performance

All four of these research paper titles may describe very similar studies—they could even be titles for the same study! As you can see, they give very different impressions.

  • Title 1 describes the topic and the method of the study but is not particularly catchy.
  • Title 2 partly describes the topic, but does not give any information about the method of the study—it could simply be a theoretical or opinion piece.
  • Title 3 is somewhat catchier but gives almost no information at all about the article.
  • Title 4 begins with a catchy main title and is followed by a subtitle that gives information about the content and method of the study.

As we will see, Title 4 has all the characteristics of a good research title.

Characteristics of a Good Research Title

According to rhetoric scholars Hairston and Keene, making a good title for a paper involves ensuring that the title of the research accomplishes four goals as mentioned below:

  • It should predict the content of the research paper .
  • It should be interesting to the reader .
  • It should reflect the tone of the writing .
  • It should contain important keywords that will make it easier to be located during a keyword search.

Let’s return to the examples in the previous section to see how to make a research title.

Title Predicts content? Interesting? Reflects tone? Important keywords?

Yes No No Yes

No Yes Yes No

No Yes No No

Yes Yes Yes Yes

As you can see in the table above, only one of the four example titles fulfills all of the criteria of a suitable research paper title.

Related: You’ve chosen your study topic, but having trouble deciding where to publish it? Here’s a comprehensive course to help you identify the right journal .

Tips for Writing an Effective Research Paper Title

When writing a research title, you can use the four criteria listed above as a guide. Here are a few other tips you can use to make sure your title will be part of the recipe for an effective research paper :

  • Make sure your research title describes (a) the topic, (b) the method, (c) the sample, and (d) the results of your study. You can use the following formula:
[ Result ]: A [ method ] study of [ topic ] among [ sample ] Example : Meditation makes nurses perform better: a qualitative study of mindfulness meditation among German nursing students
  • Avoid unnecessary words and jargons. Keep the title statement as concise as possible. You want a title that will be comprehensible even to people who are not experts in your field. Check our article for a detailed list of things to avoid when writing an effective research title .
  • Make sure your title is between 5 and 15 words in length.
  • If you are writing a title for a university assignment or for a particular academic journal, verify that your title conforms to the standards and requirements for that outlet. For example, many journals require that titles fall under a character limit, including spaces. Many universities require that titles take a very specific form, limiting your creativity.
  • Use a descriptive phrase to convey the purpose of your research efficiently.
  • Most importantly, use critical keywords in the title to increase the discoverability of your article.

can your research paper title be a question

Resources for Further Reading

In addition to the tips above, there are many resources online that you can use to help write your research title. Here is a list of links that you may find useful as you work on creating an excellent research title:

  • The University of Southern California has a guide specific to social science research papers: http://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide/title
  • The Journal of European Psychology Students has a blog article focusing on APA-compliant research paper titles: http://blog.efpsa.org/2012/09/01/how-to-write-a-good-title-for-journal-articles/
  • This article by Kristen Hamlin contains a step-by-step approach to writing titles: http://classroom.synonym.com/choose-title-research-paper-4332.html

Are there any tips or tricks you find useful in crafting research titles? Which tip did you find most useful in this article? Leave a comment to let us know!

  • Hairston, M., & Keene, M. 2003. Successful writing . 5th ed. New York: Norton.
  • University of Southern California. 2017. Organizing your social sciences research paper: choosing a title . [Online] Available at: http://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide/title

' src=

Thank you so much:) Have a nice day!

Thank you so much, it helped me.. God bless..

Thank you for the excellent article and tips for creating a research work, because I always forget about such an essential element as the keywords when forming topics. In particular, I have found a rapid help with the formation of informative and sound titles that also conforms to the standards and requirements.

I am doing a research work on sales girls or shop girls using qualititative method. Basicly I am from Pakistan and writing on the scenario of mycountry. I am really confused about my research title can you kindly give some suggestions and give me an approperaite tilte

' src=

Hi Zubair, Thank you for your question. However, the information you have provided is insufficient for drafting an appropriate title. Information on what exactly you intend to study would be needed in order to draft a meaningful title. Meanwhile, you can try drafting your own title after going through the following articles our website: https://www.enago.com/academy/top-10-tips-on-choosing-an-attractive-research-title/ , https://www.enago.com/academy/writing-a-good-research-title-things-to-avoid/ , https://www.enago.com/academy/write-irresistible-research-paper-title/ We would be happy to give you feedback and suggest changes if required. Did you get a chance to install our free Mobile App? https://www.enago.com/academy/mobile-app/ . Make sure you subscribe to our weekly newsletter https://www.enago.com/academy/subscribe-now/ .

thanks for helping me like this!!

Thank you for this. It helped me improve my research title. I just want to verify to you the title I have just made. “Ensuring the safety: A Quantitative Study of Radio Frequency Identification system among the selected students of ( school’s name ).

(I need your reply asap coz we will be doing the chap. 1 tomorrow. Thank u in advance. 🙂 )

I am actually doing a research paper title. I want to know more further in doing research title. Can you give me some tips on doing a research paper?

Hi Joan, Thank you for your question. We are glad to know that you found our resources useful. Your feedback is very valuable to us. You can try drafting your own title after going through the following articles on our website: https://www.enago.com/academy/top-10-tips-on-choosing-an-attractive-research-title/ , https://www.enago.com/academy/writing-a-good-research-title-things-to-avoid/ , https://www.enago.com/academy/write-irresistible-research-paper-title/

We would be happy to give you feedback and suggest changes if required. Did you get a chance to install our free Mobile App? https://www.enago.com/academy/mobile-app/ . Make sure you subscribe to our weekly newsletter https://www.enago.com/academy/subscribe-now/ .

That really helpful. Thanks alot

Thank you so much. It’s really help me.

Thanks for sharing this tips. Title matters a lot for any article because it contents Keywords of article. It should be eye-catchy. Your article is helpful to select title of any article.

nice blog that you have shared

This blog is very informative for me. Thanks for sharing.

nice information that you have shared

i’m found in selecting my ma thesis title ,so i’m going to do my final research after the proposal approved. Your post help me find good title.

I need help. I need a research title for my study about early mobilization of the mechanically ventilated patients in the ICU. Any suggestions would be highly appreciated.

Thank you for posting your query on the website. When writing manuscripts, too many scholars neglect the research title. This phrase, along with the abstract, is what people will mostly see and read online. Title research of publications shows that the research paper title does matter a lot. Both bibliometrics and altmetrics tracking of citations are now, for better or worse, used to gauge a paper’s “success” for its author(s) and the journal publishing it. Interesting research topics coupled with good or clever yet accurate research titles can draw more attention to your work from peers and the public alike. You can check through the following search results for titles on similar topics: https://www.google.com/search?q=early+mobilization+of+the+mechanically+ventilated+patients+in+the+icu&rlz=1C1GCEU_enIN907IN907&oq=&aqs=chrome.0.69i59.4920093j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8 .

We hope this would be helpful in drafting an attractive title for your research paper.

Please let us know in case of any other queries.

I’ve been surfing online more than 3 hours these days, but I never found any interesting article like yours. It is lovely worth enough for me. In my opinion, if all website owners and bloggers made just right content material as you did, the internet will be much more helpful than ever before.

Wonderful article! We will bee linking to this particularly great post on our site. Keep up the good writing.

Wow that was odd. I just wrote an very long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyhow, just wanted to say fantastic blog!

In case the topic is new research before you’re writing. And then to stand out, you end up being different.and be inclined to highlight yourself.

There are many free directories, and more paid lists.

To be honest your article is informative. I search many site to know about writing but I didn’t get the information I needed. I saw your site and I read it. I got some new information from here. I think some of your tips can be applied to those too! Thank you so very much for such informative and useful content.

Nice and well written content you have shared with us. thanks a lot!

Thanks for sharing these tips… Rockwide

Its helpful. a person can grab knowledge through it.

Rate this article Cancel Reply

Your email address will not be published.

can your research paper title be a question

Enago Academy's Most Popular Articles

Content Analysis vs Thematic Analysis: What's the difference?

  • Reporting Research

Choosing the Right Analytical Approach: Thematic analysis vs. content analysis for data interpretation

In research, choosing the right approach to understand data is crucial for deriving meaningful insights.…

Cross-sectional and Longitudinal Study Design

Comparing Cross Sectional and Longitudinal Studies: 5 steps for choosing the right approach

The process of choosing the right research design can put ourselves at the crossroads of…

Networking in Academic Conferences

  • Career Corner

Unlocking the Power of Networking in Academic Conferences

Embarking on your first academic conference experience? Fear not, we got you covered! Academic conferences…

Research recommendation

Research Recommendations – Guiding policy-makers for evidence-based decision making

Research recommendations play a crucial role in guiding scholars and researchers toward fruitful avenues of…

can your research paper title be a question

  • AI in Academia

Disclosing the Use of Generative AI: Best practices for authors in manuscript preparation

The rapid proliferation of generative and other AI-based tools in research writing has ignited an…

Choosing the Right Analytical Approach: Thematic analysis vs. content analysis for…

Comparing Cross Sectional and Longitudinal Studies: 5 steps for choosing the right…

How to Design Effective Research Questionnaires for Robust Findings

can your research paper title be a question

Sign-up to read more

Subscribe for free to get unrestricted access to all our resources on research writing and academic publishing including:

  • 2000+ blog articles
  • 50+ Webinars
  • 10+ Expert podcasts
  • 50+ Infographics
  • 10+ Checklists
  • Research Guides

We hate spam too. We promise to protect your privacy and never spam you.

I am looking for Editing/ Proofreading services for my manuscript Tentative date of next journal submission:

can your research paper title be a question

What would be most effective in reducing research misconduct?

home

Writing a Literature Review: The Research Question

  • The Research Question
  • Searching for Sources
  • Analyzing Results
  • Citing Sources This link opens in a new window

What is a Research Question and Why is it Important?

A research question is the question around which you center your research. The question you ask should be developed for the discipline you are studying and about an issue you are curious or passionate about.

Research questions help writers focus their research by providing a path through the research and writing process. The specificity of a well-developed research question helps writers avoid the “all-about” paper and work toward supporting a specific, arguable thesis.

A research question should be:

It should provide enough specifics that the audience can easily understand its purpose without needing additional explanation.

It should be narrow enough that it can be thoroughly answered in the space allowed for the writing task.

It should be expressed in the fewest possible words.

It should not be answerable by a simple "yes" or "no"; rather, it should require synthesis and analysis of ideas and sources.

It should contain potential answers that are open to debate rather than accepted facts.

Steps to Developing a Research Question

Choose an interesting general topic

Most researchers focus on topics they are genuinely interested in studying. Writers should choose a broad topic, such as "Films of the 1930s."

Do preliminary research on your general topic

Do some quick searches in current journals on your topic to see what research has already been done and help you narrow your focus. What issues are scholars discussing about your topic?

Consider your audience

Usually, your audience will be academic, but keep your audience in mind while developing your question. Would that particular audience be interested in the question you are developing?

Start asking questions

Start asking yourself open ended "how" and "why" questions about your topic. For example, "How did the films of the 1930s reflect or respond to the conditions of the Great Depression?"

Evaluate your question

Evaluate any questions you have developed to determine if they are effective research questions or if they need refining.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is my research question clear?
  • Is my research question focused?
  • Is my research question complex?
  • << Previous: Home
  • Next: Searching for Sources >>
  • Last Updated: Jul 10, 2024 3:22 PM
  • URL: https://libraries.utulsa.edu/LiteratureReview

Training videos   |   Faqs

Ref-n-Write: Scientific Research Paper Writing Software

How to Write Catchy Research Paper Titles with Examples

Hey there, fellow researchers! Have you ever felt the struggle of coming up with the perfect title for your paper? You’re not alone. The title is like the headline of your favorite news article – it’s got to be catchy yet informative. Let’s dive into some tips and tricks to ensure your title stands out in the academic crowd.

1. Why is the Research Paper Title Important?

Every word in your title is crucial. It’s the first thing a reviewer or reader will see, and it can determine whether your paper gets read or skipped.

✖ Title is too long, wordy, and confusing An In-depth Examination into The Overall Chance of Becoming a World-Renowned Athlete vs Getting an Executive Position in a Fortune 500 Company ✖ Title is written for a small group of readers Examining Humor in Asian Nations as Expressed in Instagram Videos ✔ Title is short and to the point Autonomous Cars: The Ethical Dilemma

A great title is a concise summary of your research and a sneak peek into your work’s unique aspects and main findings. It’s a balance between being specific and informative without overwhelming the reader with details.

2. Rules for Writing Good Titles

Rules for writing great titles are like rules for good writing in general. Let’s look at some basic rules to follow while crafting a fitting title for your research paper.

2.1 Be Specific and Avoid Being Generic

A generic title is broad, vague, and lacks specificity about the research findings. It does not highlight the research’s unique factors or the study’s contribution.

✖ Generic title An Analysis of Healthcare Data Privacy ✔ Improved title Assessing the Effectiveness of Encryption Techniques in Protecting User Data Privacy in a Healthcare Organization _ Focus of research _ Context _ Aspect being studied

2.2 Highlight Your Main Findings and Unique Aspects

Craft the perfect title using three steps.

2.3 Make it Concise and Short

While a five-word short title may seem ideal, when trying to include the specificity of focus, method, and context, you are likelier to have an 8-12 word title. This length is perfect for journal articles.

✖ Not concise A Comprehensive Examination of the Use and Impact of AI-Driven Predictive Analytics for Improving Patient Outcomes in Healthcare Settings Including Hospitals, Labs, Physician’s Offices and Primary Care Facilities ✔ Concise AI-Driven Predictive Analytics in Healthcare: Improving Patient Outcomes

2.4 Attract Attention to Your Work

You want people to be able to find your research article easily through a Google search. Specificity is essential. Using vague adjectives like novel or unique to describe a method doesn’t mean anything, and these words are not likely to be entered into a search bar. Ask yourself, what would the person likely type into the search bar?

✖ Title with poor searchability A Novel Technique for Learning Science ✔ Title with good searchability AI Driven Exercises for Elementary Science Classes

3. Common Questions

Many questions arise when writing an article title. We will answer some of the most common questions, starting with writing mechanics.

3.1 Should Titles be Grammatically Correct?

You might wonder if using prepositions (for, in, of, for, by) in a title is okay. The answer is yes. It is often necessary for the title to make sense and be grammatically correct. Using articles (the, a, an) correctly is also essential. Let’s look at some examples.

Please remember, a countable singular noun (factor, cause, risk) must be preceded by an article. Are verbs acceptable in titles?  Absolutely. Verbs make titles more dynamic.

Tip: Use the …ing form of verbs rather than vague nouns.
✖ Using abstract nouns The examination and categorization of educational software for high schools ✔ Replace abstract nouns with …ing form of verb Examining and categorizing educational software for high schools

Using verbs in the second example adds action words that depict the tasks performed in the study.

3.2 Can I Add Humor to My Title?

Humor can make a title more engaging and memorable, but it must be balanced with relevance to the research topic. The humor must not detract from the study’s credibility.

3.3 Can I Formulate My Paper Title as a Question?

Titles that ask questions are well-suited to abstracts submitted to conferences. Questioning titles are informal and catch the reader’s attention quickly.  The question must be aligned with the primary focus of the research.

Rule: A title can end with a question mark. However, no other punctuation is required at the end of a title.

3.4 What is the Difference Between Conference and Journal Titles?

When you submit an abstract to a conference, you want it noticed so it will be accepted as a presentation. However, you also hope it will be published in the conference proceedings. You want to attract attention, but the title can’t be too witty as to lose professionalism. Two-part titles work well to blend fun and professionalism.



3.5 When is a Two-Part Title a Good Idea

Two-part titles can pose a question in the first part to grab attention, with the second part providing a more academic description of the content. Two-part questions can also use the second part to explain the first part. Two-part questions must be specific, and the two parts must be connected.

✖ Poorly written two-part title : first and second parts don’t connect Advanced Algorithms in Machine Learning: Can They Really Improve Anything? ✔ Improved title Advanced Algorithms in Predictive Analytics: Are They Transforming Healthcare Outcomes?

The poorly written title does not strongly connect the first and second parts. “Can They Really Improve Anything?” isn’t specific enough to connect to the first part, which also lacks specificity.

Crafting an engaging and informative research article title is crucial for capturing attention and ensuring your work is read. You can create titles that stand out by being specific, highlighting unique findings, keeping titles concise, and ensuring grammatical correctness. Remember, a well-placed question or a bit of humor can enhance your title, but it must remain relevant and professional. Whether for journals or conferences, a well-crafted title can make a difference in the searchability and impact of your research. Happy titling!

If you have any questions, please drop a comment below, and we will answer as soon as possible. We also recommend you to refer to our other blogs on  academic writing tools ,   academic writing resources ,  academic writing phrases ,  research paper examples  and  research paper writing tips  which are relevant to the topic discussed in this blog. 

Similar Posts

Limitations in Research – A Simplified Guide with Examples

Limitations in Research – A Simplified Guide with Examples

In this blog, we provide tips for presenting study limitations in your paper and provide some real-world examples.

How to Create a Research Paper Outline?

How to Create a Research Paper Outline?

In this blog we will see how to create a research paper outline and start writing your research paper.

How to Write a Research Paper? A Beginners Guide with Useful Academic Phrases

How to Write a Research Paper? A Beginners Guide with Useful Academic Phrases

This blog explains how to write a research paper and provides writing ideas in the form of academic phrases.

Useful Phrases and Sentences for Academic & Research Paper Writing

Useful Phrases and Sentences for Academic & Research Paper Writing

In this blog, we explain various sections of a research paper and give you an overview of what these sections should contain.

Introduction Paragraph Examples and Writing Tips

Introduction Paragraph Examples and Writing Tips

In this blog, we will go through a few introduction paragraph examples and understand how to construct a great introduction paragraph for your research paper.

Critical Literature Review : How to Critique a Research Article?

Critical Literature Review : How to Critique a Research Article?

In this blog, we will look at how to use constructive language when critiquing other’s work in your research paper.

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

  • 10 Share Facebook
  • 0 Share Twitter
  • 0 Share LinkedIn
  • 0 Share Email

can your research paper title be a question

Become a Writer Today

Can Essay Titles Be Questions? A Guide to Writing Effective Essay Titles

Can essay titles be questions? Discover our guide to see when it makes sense to use a question as an essay title and when to avoid it.

The title is an important part of the piece when writing a research paper or essay for an academic writing situation. You may be wondering, “can essay titles be questions?” The answer is yes, but only if they are well-written and suitable for the topic of your essay.

A good title is relevant to the arguments within the essay and the thesis you create, and if a question fits that well, then it can be your essay title.

Argumentative Essay

Persuasive essay, narrative essay, college essay, analytical essays, using questions as high school of college essay titles, how to write a strong essay question, 1. look at your research question, 2. write the title last, 3. grab the attention of the reader , 4. add keywords, 5. make the title specific, 6. format the title properly, 7. avoid “yes” or “no” question titles, 8. set the tone, 9. test the title on other people, tips to create a good essay title, examples of question-based essay titles, using a question as an essay title.

The purpose of essay and research paper titles is to grab the reader’s attention and show a little bit about what the piece of writing will cover. Creative essay titles can make the reader want to read your piece, giving you a small place to showcase your writing skills. No matter what type of scientific or academic essay you write, you will need a title. Using a question as an essay title depends mainly on the type of essay you write. Some types lend themselves well to question titles, and others do not. Here are some common types you may need to write.

The essay title can be a question when writing an argumentative essay with two possible arguments. First, posing the question, you’ll be arguing in the title guides the reader to your opening paragraph and thesis statement. In addition, it can get the reader thinking about the question you’ll be arguing. On the other hand, if there are not two possible arguments, then the title should state your position, not ask a question. Thus, argumentative essays can have question titles sometimes, but sometimes they do not make the most sense.

If you are writing a persuasive essay, a question may not work as well as the title. Instead, you’ll want a statement to summarize the thesis statement. Remember, your goal is not to get the reader to think about two sides of an argument with this type of essay. Instead, your goal is to persuade the reader that your position on the topic is the right one.

A narrative essay is another place where you might be able to title an essay with a question. A question could make the entire essay more intriguing in this type of essay. It pauses the reader and invites them to read your narration to discover the answer.

A college essay is one place where you’ll often see a question as the title. In these essays, admissions teams want to see that you know how to answer a question thoughtfully, so using that question as the title makes sense.

In analytical essays, a question often makes the essay weaker. While it can work well in certain circumstances, most analytical essays need a statement of the problem or the solution the writer will analyze.

Many students are looking for creative essay titles, but it can be a bit of a challenge. A few reasons why  you might have a difficult time coming up with the best essay title include:

  • You might have difficulty finding an adequate title that accurately reflects all the information you will cover in your essay.
  • You might be concerned that the best title for your essay has already been taken, causing you to get worried about plagiarism.
  • You might be trying to formulate your essay title before you write the rest of the essay. As a result, you might have to change the title when you realize what your essay is about.

If you are having trouble finding a solid title to summarize your piece of writing adequately, you may want to consider using a question. You can use an essay title that is a question as long as it is appropriately framed to suit the topic on which you are writing. You must make sure that the question you use to title your essay is still relevant to the arguments you make in the essay. It should also adequately reflect the thesis statement.

A question title might be appropriate if you feel like there are multiple perspectives on your topic that you need to cover. On the other hand, if you are writing an argumentative or persuasive essay, you might want to turn your essay title into a statement. Therefore, a question title can be a solid option for an academic essay, but it is not necessarily appropriate for every type of essay.

Whether you use a question or not, writing a good title is essential in essay writing. Both types of titles, whether phrases or questions, need to summarize the main ideas of your essay. They should be short but practical because the main focus is on the content, not the title. They also should be catchy and creative, which is why a question can work well if appropriate to the essay. 

Your research question should not be the essay title but can give you a starting point. If you are given a  research question, use it to start some initial research and form a preliminary thesis statement. This can help you write your title.

If you can, write the title of your essay last. This allows you to see where your arguments take you, so you can focus on a well-developed essay first, then tailor the title to it.

Ultimately, you need a catchy title that will grab the reader’s attention. This does not mean you need something pulled from social media, but the title should spark enough curiosity that the reader will want to read the essay.

Can essay titles be questions?

Keywords should be pulled from the essay, and tell your reader what they will read in the piece. These are not keywords for online marketing purposes, but if your title uses keywords from your piece, you will more easily write a title relevant to the rest of the essay. Keywords can be helpful if you eventually have your essay published in an online database. In addition, research conducted at college and university levels often becomes a part of online databases; thus, learning how to use keywords in the title will help the essay find more readers in the future.

Next, you should ensure that your title is specific. Remember that your essay has to be an accurate reflection of what is covered. If it is too general, your readers will have difficulty figuring out what the essay is about. For example, the statement “Concussions in the NFL” is far too general. There are a lot of different opinions on concussions in the NFL , and research has changed significantly during the past few decades. Instead, you may want to choose a title such as “What Is the Impact of Repeated Concussions in the NFL on Player Safety?” This is a much more specific statement that will give the reader a better idea of what your essay covers. 

As you write your title, make sure you format it correctly. Use these rules:

  • Capitalize the first and last words, as well as most other words. Do not capitalize articles and short prepositions.
  • If you use questions for titles, end them with a question mark, but do not end statements with a period.
  • Do not add additional punctuation, except if the title includes the title of a published work, in which case you punctuate the title of the published work according to the appropriate rules.

If you decide to use a question as the essay title, do not phrase it so that it has a yes or no answer. For example:

  • Does Cell Phone Use Impact Social Communication?

The answer is probably yes, and you would not need much explanation. Instead, format the title so that it invites more discussion.

  • How Has Cell Phone Use Impacted Social Communication?

Here you have room to develop several points as you explore the answer to the question.

Essays all have a tone. For example, academic essays tend to be severe and factual, while narrative essays can have a more humorous tone. You can set the tone of your essay in your title so the reader knows what to expect as they read the work.

Finally, getting an outside perspective on your title could be prudent. Just as you may want to have people read your essay to identify confusing statements, typos, or grammatical issues you may have overlooked, you should also ask people for their opinions on your title. See if they can figure out what the essay is about based on the title. Find out if they have more creative ideas you can incorporate into the title of your essay. Remember that you are not obligated to follow their advice, but it could be helpful to see what other people have to say. 

Tips to create a good essay title

Regardless of the essay title you choose, it must be relevant to the essay’s contents. Here are a few tips to consider when writing your essay title.

  • Summarize: Your essay title should summarize the essay’s main ideas. That is why it might be smart to wait until the essay is written before developing your essay title. Then, you can look at your thesis statement, analyze your topic sentences, and develop a title that adequately summarizes the essay’s main ideas.
  • Concise: You should keep your title as short as possible. Even though you need to include enough words to adequately describe what is covered in your essay, you do not want the title to be too long. The shorter your title is, the easier it will be for people to be hooked by your essay title. 
  • Specific: You should also ensure that your essay title is specific. If your title is too general, people may have difficulty figuring out what your essay is about. You do not want to leave them guessing. But, on the other hand, you want people to know what your essay is about right away.
  • Creative: Finally, your essay title should be creative. Remember that your essay title is responsible for the first impression you will have on your reader. It would help if you hooked your reader’s attention right away. Otherwise, they will not read the rest of the essay. You need your title to do exactly that. You can convince someone to keep reading if you use a curious, profound question.

Remember that you may want to try multiple titles before you decide which one to use. You must find the one that best describes your essay’s contents while grabbing potential readers’ attention.

The best essay title is the one that fits the essay you are writing. Sometimes questions work, and sometimes they do not. Here are some examples of essay titles that work well in question format:

  • Are Cameras in Public Places Good Security or a Violation of Privacy Rights? (Argumentative essay)
  • Why Is Social Media a Threat to Modern Teenagers? (Argumentative essay)
  • Does Paying Children for Their Grades Help? (High school essay)
  • What Parenting Style Is the Most Effective? (High school essay)
  • Is “Fake News” Real, and How Does It Affect People’s Political Views? (College essay)
  • How Has Cell Phone Technology Changed the Way We Communicate? (College essay
  • What Are the Top Benefits of Antioxidants: The Research (Research paper)
  • Do Violent Video Games Cause More Violence in Society? (Research paper_
  • What Role Did the Marshall Plan Play in Rebuilding Europe After World War II? (High school essay)

If you are interested in learning more, check out our essay writing tips !

If you’re still stuck, check out our general resource of essay writing topics .

UCI Libraries Mobile Site

  • Langson Library
  • Science Library
  • Grunigen Medical Library
  • Law Library
  • Connect From Off-Campus
  • Accessibility
  • Gateway Study Center

Libaries home page

Email this link

Writing a scientific paper.

  • Writing a lab report

What is a "good" title?

"title checklist" from: how to write a good scientific paper. chris a. mack. spie. 2018., other hints for writing a title.

  • INTRODUCTION
  • LITERATURE CITED
  • Bibliography of guides to scientific writing and presenting
  • Peer Review
  • Presentations
  • Lab Report Writing Guides on the Web

The title will be read by many people. Only a few will read the entire paper, therefore all words in the title should be chosen with care. Too short a title is not helpful to the potential reader. However too long a title can sometimes be even less meaningful. Remember a title is not an abstract. Also a title is not a sentence.

Goals: • Fewest possible words that describe the contents of the paper. • Avoid waste words like "Studies on", or "Investigations on" • Use specific terms rather than general • Watch your word order and syntax • Avoid abbreviations and jargon

 The title should be clear and informative, and should reflect the aim and approach of the work.

 The title should be as specific as possible while still describing the full range of the work. Does the title, seen in isolation, give a full yet concise and specific indication of the work reported?

 Do not mention results or conclusions in the title.

 Avoid: overly clever or punny titles that will not fare well with search engines or international audiences; titles that are too short to be descriptive or too long to be read; jargon, acronyms, or trademarked terms. 

  • Whenever possible, use a declarative rather than a neutral title
  • Don't end your title with a question mark?
  • Begin with the keywords
  • Use verbs instead of abstract nouns
  • Avoid abbrev. in the title

From: How to Write and Illustrate a Scientific Paper (2008)

  • << Previous: Writing a lab report
  • Next: ABSTRACT >>
  • Last Updated: Aug 4, 2023 9:33 AM
  • URL: https://guides.lib.uci.edu/scientificwriting

Off-campus? Please use the Software VPN and choose the group UCIFull to access licensed content. For more information, please Click here

Software VPN is not available for guests, so they may not have access to some content when connecting from off-campus.

can your research paper title be a question

Get science-backed answers as you write with Paperpal's Research feature

How to Write a Research Paper Title

7 Tips to create the best research title for your paper

Knowing how to write a research paper title is an art that not every researcher possesses, and researchers often spend a lot of time skimming through articles to find the right research paper title.

According to an interesting estimate, researchers read more than 100 publications every year and spend long hours, weeks and months searching for and reading articles relevant to their field of study. 1 While open access publishing and online repositories have made it easier to find articles, researchers still need to browse through a sea of research, often using research paper titles, to find relevant information for their research study. Researchers also face the challenge of ensuring their work reaches a broader audience in order to get more citations. This is where the importance of a good title for a research paper becomes evident.

Your research paper title is one of the first things readers in your research paper and plays an important role in influencing whether they will actually go through the entire article. This makes it critical to have a good research paper title that captures the reader’s attention. In this article, we look at the key characteristics of a good research title and what to keep in mind to create a research title that works for you.

Generate outstanding research titles in a click with Paperpal. Try it now!  

What to keep in mind when writing a research paper title

  • Convey the key research findings: Before writing a research paper title, list down what your study is about, what you have achieved or discovered, and the methodology used. Try and identify the one or two key elements that make your study novel or significant in your subject area. Combine these elements to create the best research title that showcases your article accurately and effectively.
  • Choose a declarative research paper title : Declarative titles are more informative and help readers to quickly grasp what the body of the article may contain. Therefore, it is considered to be more impactful and more likely to attract the reader’s attention. Additionally, most editors agree that papers with declarative titles are more likely to be shared online, allowing researchers to reach a far wider audience. 2
  • A good research title must pique reader interest : Researchers browsing through online platforms during their literature search often spend only a few seconds to read the title and evaluate an article’s relevance. This makes it important to create a catchy title for your research paper that will spark curiosity in the minds of your audience, which may prompt them pause, read, share, and discuss your research paper.
  • Avoid making any unsubstantiated claims: This is an important aspect to keep in mind when creating research paper titles. While it may be tempting to write titles with claims that will immediately attract reader attention and get you more citations, your research should be able to back-up these claims with substantive, studied evidence. Failing to do so can create mistrust about the research and even hurt your reputation.
  • Keep it simple and avoid jargon: It’s tempting to use technical words in a research paper title when you know that your primary audience is most likely to be other researchers working in the same field. However, this can prove counter-productive as readers who are not familiar with these complicated words may end up skipping your article. Some early career researchers might also give your paper a pass as they may feel that it is too technical for them so avoid using jargon.

Let Paperpal generate a suitable title for your content in minutes. Try it now!

  • Use phrases to keep your research title concise: One mistake early career researchers make is using full sentences to write the research paper title. Avoid complex phrases and unnecessary details as it makes the title unnecessarily lengthy. Remember to ensure proper syntax when trying to rephrase the title to make it leaner. A good research paper title offers a concise summary of the paper’s content; keep your title to under 12 words as lengthy titles can be hard to understand and may seem unfocused and uninteresting.
  • Include keywords to make your article discoverable: Today most researchers turn to online databases and search engines like Google Scholar to find the right research. This makes it critical to identify and use the best keywords for your research subject/topic when creating a research title. The best research paper title is one that is easily discoverable, making it easy for your readers to find and read your article.

A review of more than 150,000 papers  submitted to UK’s Research Excellence Framework (REF) database found that the style of a research paper’s title impacted the number of citations it would typically receive. 3 Writing a good research paper title is worth the time and effort, and we’re sure the points listed above will help!

How to generate research paper titles with Paperpal?

A research paper title is the first impression for journal editors, reviewers, and readers to understand the aim and purpose of your research study. However, picking a research paper title that encapsulates your research’s content can be daunting. Your research paper title should accurately capture your work, contain highly searched keywords, and should also sound interesting to people who work on a similar topic.   

Paperpal’s secure generative AI helps you write research paper titles twice as fast, ensuring they align with your research topic. Follow these simple steps to create an impactful research paper title: 

  • Sign Up or Log In: Start by creating an account or logging into Paperpal . 
  • Paste your content: Once logged in, paste your research paper’s content or abstract onto the document. 
  • Generate your title: Click on ‘Templates’ in the side navigation pane, go to Titles, and select ‘Generate’ . 

Paperpal will analyze your content and propose a fitting research paper title. If it doesn’t quite hit the mark, simply click regenerate to get additional title options until you find the perfect one. Remember, while Paperpal provides a solid starting point, personalizing the title to capture the essence of your research is key to making it stand out.  

  • How Scientists Retrieve Publications: An Empirical Study of How the Internet Is Overtaking Paper Media. Journal of Electronic Publishing, December 2000. [Accessed November 3, 2022] Available at https://quod.lib.umich.edu/j/jep/3336451.0006.202?view=text;rgn=main
  • Di Girolamo, N. Health care articles with simple and declarative titles were more likely to be in the Altmetric Top 100. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, December 2016. [Accessed November 3, 2022] Available at https://www.jclinepi.com/article/S0895-4356(16)30853-8/fulltext
  • Hudson, J. An analysis of the titles of papers submitted to the UK REF in 2014: authors, disciplines, and stylistic details. Scientometrics, July 2016. [Accessed November 3, 2022] Available at https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11192-016-2081-4

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

It is generally recommended to avoid using a question to write a good research paper title. Titles should be concise and informative, conveying the main focus of the study. While questions can be used in the introduction or research objectives, a clear and declarative title is preferred to accurately represent the content and purpose of the research.

A research paper title should be concise and to the point. Ideally, it should be around 10 to 12 words or less. A shorter title is more effective in grabbing readers’ attention and conveying the main idea succinctly. However, it’s important to ensure that the title still accurately represents the research and provides enough information for readers to understand the scope of the study.

Including specific keywords related to the research topic can be beneficial. Keywords help in indexing and searching for relevant papers. However, it is not necessary to include all keywords in the title. Instead, focus on incorporating essential and relevant keywords that reflect the core aspects of the study. Use keywords that are commonly used and recognized in the field to increase the discoverability and relevance of your research.

Abbreviations or acronyms should generally be avoided in the research paper title. The title should be clear and easily understandable to a broad audience. If an abbreviation is commonly used in the field and is essential to convey the research focus, it can be included, but it’s important to provide the full term upon its first mention in the paper for clarity.

Whether you can change the research paper title after submission depends on the specific guidelines and policies of the journal or conference. Some publications allow minor revisions, including title changes, during the review process. However, it is best to ensure that the title is carefully chosen and reviewed before submission. If a change is necessary, it is recommended to contact the editor or conference organizers for guidance on whether it’s permissible to modify the title.

The preferred formatting style for research paper titles varies depending on the specific guidelines of the target journal or conference. Generally, sentence case is commonly used, where only the first word and proper nouns are capitalized. However, some publications may prefer title case, where the first letter of each major word is capitalized. It is important to carefully review the submission guidelines or consult the specific style guide recommended by the publication to ensure consistency with their preferred formatting style.

Paperpal is a comprehensive AI writing toolkit that helps students and researchers achieve 2x the writing in half the time. It leverages 21+ years of STM experience and insights from millions of research articles to provide in-depth academic writing, language editing, and submission readiness support to help you write better, faster.  

Get accurate academic translations, rewriting support, grammar checks, vocabulary suggestions, and generative AI assistance that delivers human precision at machine speed. Try for free or upgrade to Paperpal Prime starting at US$19 a month to access premium features, including consistency, plagiarism, and 30+ submission readiness checks to help you succeed.  

Experience the future of academic writing – Sign up to Paperpal and start writing for free!  

Related Reads:

How to write a research paper outline: simple steps for researchers.

  • Manuscript Withdrawal: Reasons, Consequences, and How to Withdraw Submitted Manuscripts
  • Supplementary Materials in Research: 5 Tips for Authors
  • What is an Expository Essay and How to Write It

The Ethics of Using AI in Research and Scientific Writing

You may also like, how to write an abstract in research papers..., how to write dissertation acknowledgements, how to write a high-quality conference paper, measuring academic success: definition & strategies for excellence, phd qualifying exam: tips for success , ai in education: it’s time to change the..., is it ethical to use ai-generated abstracts without..., what are journal guidelines on using generative ai..., should you use ai tools like chatgpt for..., 9 steps to publish a research paper.

U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

The .gov means it’s official. Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you’re on a federal government site.

The site is secure. The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

  • Publications
  • Account settings

Preview improvements coming to the PMC website in October 2024. Learn More or Try it out now .

  • Advanced Search
  • Journal List
  • Saudi J Anaesth
  • v.13(Suppl 1); 2019 Apr

Writing the title and abstract for a research paper: Being concise, precise, and meticulous is the key

Milind s. tullu.

Department of Pediatrics, Seth G.S. Medical College and KEM Hospital, Parel, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

This article deals with formulating a suitable title and an appropriate abstract for an original research paper. The “title” and the “abstract” are the “initial impressions” of a research article, and hence they need to be drafted correctly, accurately, carefully, and meticulously. Often both of these are drafted after the full manuscript is ready. Most readers read only the title and the abstract of a research paper and very few will go on to read the full paper. The title and the abstract are the most important parts of a research paper and should be pleasant to read. The “title” should be descriptive, direct, accurate, appropriate, interesting, concise, precise, unique, and should not be misleading. The “abstract” needs to be simple, specific, clear, unbiased, honest, concise, precise, stand-alone, complete, scholarly, (preferably) structured, and should not be misrepresentative. The abstract should be consistent with the main text of the paper, especially after a revision is made to the paper and should include the key message prominently. It is very important to include the most important words and terms (the “keywords”) in the title and the abstract for appropriate indexing purpose and for retrieval from the search engines and scientific databases. Such keywords should be listed after the abstract. One must adhere to the instructions laid down by the target journal with regard to the style and number of words permitted for the title and the abstract.

Introduction

This article deals with drafting a suitable “title” and an appropriate “abstract” for an original research paper. Because the “title” and the “abstract” are the “initial impressions” or the “face” of a research article, they need to be drafted correctly, accurately, carefully, meticulously, and consume time and energy.[ 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 , 8 , 9 , 10 ] Often, these are drafted after the complete manuscript draft is ready.[ 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 9 , 10 , 11 ] Most readers will read only the title and the abstract of a published research paper, and very few “interested ones” (especially, if the paper is of use to them) will go on to read the full paper.[ 1 , 2 ] One must remember to adhere to the instructions laid down by the “target journal” (the journal for which the author is writing) regarding the style and number of words permitted for the title and the abstract.[ 2 , 4 , 5 , 7 , 8 , 9 , 12 ] Both the title and the abstract are the most important parts of a research paper – for editors (to decide whether to process the paper for further review), for reviewers (to get an initial impression of the paper), and for the readers (as these may be the only parts of the paper available freely and hence, read widely).[ 4 , 8 , 12 ] It may be worth for the novice author to browse through titles and abstracts of several prominent journals (and their target journal as well) to learn more about the wording and styles of the titles and abstracts, as well as the aims and scope of the particular journal.[ 5 , 7 , 9 , 13 ]

The details of the title are discussed under the subheadings of importance, types, drafting, and checklist.

Importance of the title

When a reader browses through the table of contents of a journal issue (hard copy or on website), the title is the “ first detail” or “face” of the paper that is read.[ 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 13 ] Hence, it needs to be simple, direct, accurate, appropriate, specific, functional, interesting, attractive/appealing, concise/brief, precise/focused, unambiguous, memorable, captivating, informative (enough to encourage the reader to read further), unique, catchy, and it should not be misleading.[ 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 9 , 12 ] It should have “just enough details” to arouse the interest and curiosity of the reader so that the reader then goes ahead with studying the abstract and then (if still interested) the full paper.[ 1 , 2 , 4 , 13 ] Journal websites, electronic databases, and search engines use the words in the title and abstract (the “keywords”) to retrieve a particular paper during a search; hence, the importance of these words in accessing the paper by the readers has been emphasized.[ 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 12 , 14 ] Such important words (or keywords) should be arranged in appropriate order of importance as per the context of the paper and should be placed at the beginning of the title (rather than the later part of the title, as some search engines like Google may just display only the first six to seven words of the title).[ 3 , 5 , 12 ] Whimsical, amusing, or clever titles, though initially appealing, may be missed or misread by the busy reader and very short titles may miss the essential scientific words (the “keywords”) used by the indexing agencies to catch and categorize the paper.[ 1 , 3 , 4 , 9 ] Also, amusing or hilarious titles may be taken less seriously by the readers and may be cited less often.[ 4 , 15 ] An excessively long or complicated title may put off the readers.[ 3 , 9 ] It may be a good idea to draft the title after the main body of the text and the abstract are drafted.[ 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 ]

Types of titles

Titles can be descriptive, declarative, or interrogative. They can also be classified as nominal, compound, or full-sentence titles.

Descriptive or neutral title

This has the essential elements of the research theme, that is, the patients/subjects, design, interventions, comparisons/control, and outcome, but does not reveal the main result or the conclusion.[ 3 , 4 , 12 , 16 ] Such a title allows the reader to interpret the findings of the research paper in an impartial manner and with an open mind.[ 3 ] These titles also give complete information about the contents of the article, have several keywords (thus increasing the visibility of the article in search engines), and have increased chances of being read and (then) being cited as well.[ 4 ] Hence, such descriptive titles giving a glimpse of the paper are generally preferred.[ 4 , 16 ]

Declarative title

This title states the main finding of the study in the title itself; it reduces the curiosity of the reader, may point toward a bias on the part of the author, and hence is best avoided.[ 3 , 4 , 12 , 16 ]

Interrogative title

This is the one which has a query or the research question in the title.[ 3 , 4 , 16 ] Though a query in the title has the ability to sensationalize the topic, and has more downloads (but less citations), it can be distracting to the reader and is again best avoided for a research article (but can, at times, be used for a review article).[ 3 , 6 , 16 , 17 ]

From a sentence construct point of view, titles may be nominal (capturing only the main theme of the study), compound (with subtitles to provide additional relevant information such as context, design, location/country, temporal aspect, sample size, importance, and a provocative or a literary; for example, see the title of this review), or full-sentence titles (which are longer and indicate an added degree of certainty of the results).[ 4 , 6 , 9 , 16 ] Any of these constructs may be used depending on the type of article, the key message, and the author's preference or judgement.[ 4 ]

Drafting a suitable title

A stepwise process can be followed to draft the appropriate title. The author should describe the paper in about three sentences, avoiding the results and ensuring that these sentences contain important scientific words/keywords that describe the main contents and subject of the paper.[ 1 , 4 , 6 , 12 ] Then the author should join the sentences to form a single sentence, shorten the length (by removing redundant words or adjectives or phrases), and finally edit the title (thus drafted) to make it more accurate, concise (about 10–15 words), and precise.[ 1 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 9 ] Some journals require that the study design be included in the title, and this may be placed (using a colon) after the primary title.[ 2 , 3 , 4 , 14 ] The title should try to incorporate the Patients, Interventions, Comparisons and Outcome (PICO).[ 3 ] The place of the study may be included in the title (if absolutely necessary), that is, if the patient characteristics (such as study population, socioeconomic conditions, or cultural practices) are expected to vary as per the country (or the place of the study) and have a bearing on the possible outcomes.[ 3 , 6 ] Lengthy titles can be boring and appear unfocused, whereas very short titles may not be representative of the contents of the article; hence, optimum length is required to ensure that the title explains the main theme and content of the manuscript.[ 4 , 5 , 9 ] Abbreviations (except the standard or commonly interpreted ones such as HIV, AIDS, DNA, RNA, CDC, FDA, ECG, and EEG) or acronyms should be avoided in the title, as a reader not familiar with them may skip such an article and nonstandard abbreviations may create problems in indexing the article.[ 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 9 , 12 ] Also, too much of technical jargon or chemical formulas in the title may confuse the readers and the article may be skipped by them.[ 4 , 9 ] Numerical values of various parameters (stating study period or sample size) should also be avoided in the titles (unless deemed extremely essential).[ 4 ] It may be worthwhile to take an opinion from a impartial colleague before finalizing the title.[ 4 , 5 , 6 ] Thus, multiple factors (which are, at times, a bit conflicting or contrasting) need to be considered while formulating a title, and hence this should not be done in a hurry.[ 4 , 6 ] Many journals ask the authors to draft a “short title” or “running head” or “running title” for printing in the header or footer of the printed paper.[ 3 , 12 ] This is an abridged version of the main title of up to 40–50 characters, may have standard abbreviations, and helps the reader to navigate through the paper.[ 3 , 12 , 14 ]

Checklist for a good title

Table 1 gives a checklist/useful tips for drafting a good title for a research paper.[ 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 12 ] Table 2 presents some of the titles used by the author of this article in his earlier research papers, and the appropriateness of the titles has been commented upon. As an individual exercise, the reader may try to improvise upon the titles (further) after reading the corresponding abstract and full paper.

Checklist/useful tips for drafting a good title for a research paper

The title needs to be simple and direct
It should be interesting and informative
It should be specific, accurate, and functional (with essential scientific “keywords” for indexing)
It should be concise, precise, and should include the main theme of the paper
It should not be misleading or misrepresentative
It should not be too long or too short (or cryptic)
It should avoid whimsical or amusing words
It should avoid nonstandard abbreviations and unnecessary acronyms (or technical jargon)
Title should be SPICED, that is, it should include Setting, Population, Intervention, Condition, End-point, and Design
Place of the study and sample size should be mentioned only if it adds to the scientific value of the title
Important terms/keywords should be placed in the beginning of the title
Descriptive titles are preferred to declarative or interrogative titles
Authors should adhere to the word count and other instructions as specified by the target journal

Some titles used by author of this article in his earlier publications and remark/comment on their appropriateness

TitleComment/remark on the contents of the title
Comparison of Pediatric Risk of Mortality III, Pediatric Index of Mortality 2, and Pediatric Index of Mortality 3 Scores in Predicting Mortality in a Pediatric Intensive Care UnitLong title (28 words) capturing the main theme; site of study is mentioned
A Prospective Antibacterial Utilization Study in Pediatric Intensive Care Unit of a Tertiary Referral CenterOptimum number of words capturing the main theme; site of study is mentioned
Study of Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia in a Pediatric Intensive Care UnitThe words “study of” can be deleted
Clinical Profile, Co-Morbidities & Health Related Quality of Life in Pediatric Patients with Allergic Rhinitis & AsthmaOptimum number of words; population and intervention mentioned
Benzathine Penicillin Prophylaxis in Children with Rheumatic Fever (RF)/Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD): A Study of ComplianceSubtitle used to convey the main focus of the paper. It may be preferable to use the important word “compliance” in the beginning of the title rather than at the end. Abbreviations RF and RHD can be deleted as corresponding full forms have already been mentioned in the title itself
Performance of PRISM (Pediatric Risk of Mortality) Score and PIM (Pediatric Index of Mortality) Score in a Tertiary Care Pediatric ICUAbbreviations used. “ICU” may be allowed as it is a commonly used abbreviation. Abbreviations PRISM and PIM can be deleted as corresponding full forms are already used in the title itself
Awareness of Health Care Workers Regarding Prophylaxis for Prevention of Transmission of Blood-Borne Viral Infections in Occupational ExposuresSlightly long title (18 words); theme well-captured
Isolated Infective Endocarditis of the Pulmonary Valve: An Autopsy Analysis of Nine CasesSubtitle used to convey additional details like “autopsy” (i.e., postmortem analysis) and “nine” (i.e., number of cases)
Atresia of the Common Pulmonary Vein - A Rare Congenital AnomalySubtitle used to convey importance of the paper/rarity of the condition
Psychological Consequences in Pediatric Intensive Care Unit Survivors: The Neglected OutcomeSubtitle used to convey importance of the paper and to make the title more interesting
Rheumatic Fever and Rheumatic Heart Disease: Clinical Profile of 550 patients in IndiaNumber of cases (550) emphasized because it is a large series; country (India) is mentioned in the title - will the clinical profile of patients with rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease vary from country to country? May be yes, as the clinical features depend on the socioeconomic and cultural background
Neurological Manifestations of HIV InfectionShort title; abbreviation “HIV” may be allowed as it is a commonly used abbreviation
Krabbe Disease - Clinical ProfileVery short title (only four words) - may miss out on the essential keywords required for indexing
Experience of Pediatric Tetanus Cases from MumbaiCity mentioned (Mumbai) in the title - one needs to think whether it is required in the title

The Abstract

The details of the abstract are discussed under the subheadings of importance, types, drafting, and checklist.

Importance of the abstract

The abstract is a summary or synopsis of the full research paper and also needs to have similar characteristics like the title. It needs to be simple, direct, specific, functional, clear, unbiased, honest, concise, precise, self-sufficient, complete, comprehensive, scholarly, balanced, and should not be misleading.[ 1 , 2 , 3 , 7 , 8 , 9 , 10 , 11 , 13 , 17 ] Writing an abstract is to extract and summarize (AB – absolutely, STR – straightforward, ACT – actual data presentation and interpretation).[ 17 ] The title and abstracts are the only sections of the research paper that are often freely available to the readers on the journal websites, search engines, and in many abstracting agencies/databases, whereas the full paper may attract a payment per view or a fee for downloading the pdf copy.[ 1 , 2 , 3 , 7 , 8 , 10 , 11 , 13 , 14 ] The abstract is an independent and stand-alone (that is, well understood without reading the full paper) section of the manuscript and is used by the editor to decide the fate of the article and to choose appropriate reviewers.[ 2 , 7 , 10 , 12 , 13 ] Even the reviewers are initially supplied only with the title and the abstract before they agree to review the full manuscript.[ 7 , 13 ] This is the second most commonly read part of the manuscript, and therefore it should reflect the contents of the main text of the paper accurately and thus act as a “real trailer” of the full article.[ 2 , 7 , 11 ] The readers will go through the full paper only if they find the abstract interesting and relevant to their practice; else they may skip the paper if the abstract is unimpressive.[ 7 , 8 , 9 , 10 , 13 ] The abstract needs to highlight the selling point of the manuscript and succeed in luring the reader to read the complete paper.[ 3 , 7 ] The title and the abstract should be constructed using keywords (key terms/important words) from all the sections of the main text.[ 12 ] Abstracts are also used for submitting research papers to a conference for consideration for presentation (as oral paper or poster).[ 9 , 13 , 17 ] Grammatical and typographic errors reflect poorly on the quality of the abstract, may indicate carelessness/casual attitude on part of the author, and hence should be avoided at all times.[ 9 ]

Types of abstracts

The abstracts can be structured or unstructured. They can also be classified as descriptive or informative abstracts.

Structured and unstructured abstracts

Structured abstracts are followed by most journals, are more informative, and include specific subheadings/subsections under which the abstract needs to be composed.[ 1 , 7 , 8 , 9 , 10 , 11 , 13 , 17 , 18 ] These subheadings usually include context/background, objectives, design, setting, participants, interventions, main outcome measures, results, and conclusions.[ 1 ] Some journals stick to the standard IMRAD format for the structure of the abstracts, and the subheadings would include Introduction/Background, Methods, Results, And (instead of Discussion) the Conclusion/s.[ 1 , 2 , 7 , 8 , 9 , 10 , 11 , 12 , 13 , 17 , 18 ] Structured abstracts are more elaborate, informative, easy to read, recall, and peer-review, and hence are preferred; however, they consume more space and can have same limitations as an unstructured abstract.[ 7 , 9 , 18 ] The structured abstracts are (possibly) better understood by the reviewers and readers. Anyway, the choice of the type of the abstract and the subheadings of a structured abstract depend on the particular journal style and is not left to the author's wish.[ 7 , 10 , 12 ] Separate subheadings may be necessary for reporting meta-analysis, educational research, quality improvement work, review, or case study.[ 1 ] Clinical trial abstracts need to include the essential items mentioned in the CONSORT (Consolidated Standards Of Reporting Trials) guidelines.[ 7 , 9 , 14 , 19 ] Similar guidelines exist for various other types of studies, including observational studies and for studies of diagnostic accuracy.[ 20 , 21 ] A useful resource for the above guidelines is available at www.equator-network.org (Enhancing the QUAlity and Transparency Of health Research). Unstructured (or non-structured) abstracts are free-flowing, do not have predefined subheadings, and are commonly used for papers that (usually) do not describe original research.[ 1 , 7 , 9 , 10 ]

The four-point structured abstract: This has the following elements which need to be properly balanced with regard to the content/matter under each subheading:[ 9 ]

Background and/or Objectives: This states why the work was undertaken and is usually written in just a couple of sentences.[ 3 , 7 , 8 , 9 , 10 , 12 , 13 ] The hypothesis/study question and the major objectives are also stated under this subheading.[ 3 , 7 , 8 , 9 , 10 , 12 , 13 ]

Methods: This subsection is the longest, states what was done, and gives essential details of the study design, setting, participants, blinding, sample size, sampling method, intervention/s, duration and follow-up, research instruments, main outcome measures, parameters evaluated, and how the outcomes were assessed or analyzed.[ 3 , 7 , 8 , 9 , 10 , 12 , 13 , 14 , 17 ]

Results/Observations/Findings: This subheading states what was found, is longer, is difficult to draft, and needs to mention important details including the number of study participants, results of analysis (of primary and secondary objectives), and include actual data (numbers, mean, median, standard deviation, “P” values, 95% confidence intervals, effect sizes, relative risks, odds ratio, etc.).[ 3 , 7 , 8 , 9 , 10 , 12 , 13 , 14 , 17 ]

Conclusions: The take-home message (the “so what” of the paper) and other significant/important findings should be stated here, considering the interpretation of the research question/hypothesis and results put together (without overinterpreting the findings) and may also include the author's views on the implications of the study.[ 3 , 7 , 8 , 9 , 10 , 12 , 13 , 14 , 17 ]

The eight-point structured abstract: This has the following eight subheadings – Objectives, Study Design, Study Setting, Participants/Patients, Methods/Intervention, Outcome Measures, Results, and Conclusions.[ 3 , 9 , 18 ] The instructions to authors given by the particular journal state whether they use the four- or eight-point abstract or variants thereof.[ 3 , 14 ]

Descriptive and Informative abstracts

Descriptive abstracts are short (75–150 words), only portray what the paper contains without providing any more details; the reader has to read the full paper to know about its contents and are rarely used for original research papers.[ 7 , 10 ] These are used for case reports, reviews, opinions, and so on.[ 7 , 10 ] Informative abstracts (which may be structured or unstructured as described above) give a complete detailed summary of the article contents and truly reflect the actual research done.[ 7 , 10 ]

Drafting a suitable abstract

It is important to religiously stick to the instructions to authors (format, word limit, font size/style, and subheadings) provided by the journal for which the abstract and the paper are being written.[ 7 , 8 , 9 , 10 , 13 ] Most journals allow 200–300 words for formulating the abstract and it is wise to restrict oneself to this word limit.[ 1 , 2 , 3 , 7 , 8 , 9 , 10 , 11 , 12 , 13 , 22 ] Though some authors prefer to draft the abstract initially, followed by the main text of the paper, it is recommended to draft the abstract in the end to maintain accuracy and conformity with the main text of the paper (thus maintaining an easy linkage/alignment with title, on one hand, and the introduction section of the main text, on the other hand).[ 2 , 7 , 9 , 10 , 11 ] The authors should check the subheadings (of the structured abstract) permitted by the target journal, use phrases rather than sentences to draft the content of the abstract, and avoid passive voice.[ 1 , 7 , 9 , 12 ] Next, the authors need to get rid of redundant words and edit the abstract (extensively) to the correct word count permitted (every word in the abstract “counts”!).[ 7 , 8 , 9 , 10 , 13 ] It is important to ensure that the key message, focus, and novelty of the paper are not compromised; the rationale of the study and the basis of the conclusions are clear; and that the abstract is consistent with the main text of the paper.[ 1 , 2 , 3 , 7 , 9 , 11 , 12 , 13 , 14 , 17 , 22 ] This is especially important while submitting a revision of the paper (modified after addressing the reviewer's comments), as the changes made in the main (revised) text of the paper need to be reflected in the (revised) abstract as well.[ 2 , 10 , 12 , 14 , 22 ] Abbreviations should be avoided in an abstract, unless they are conventionally accepted or standard; references, tables, or figures should not be cited in the abstract.[ 7 , 9 , 10 , 11 , 13 ] It may be worthwhile not to rush with the abstract and to get an opinion by an impartial colleague on the content of the abstract; and if possible, the full paper (an “informal” peer-review).[ 1 , 7 , 8 , 9 , 11 , 17 ] Appropriate “Keywords” (three to ten words or phrases) should follow the abstract and should be preferably chosen from the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) list of the U.S. National Library of Medicine ( https://meshb.nlm.nih.gov/search ) and are used for indexing purposes.[ 2 , 3 , 11 , 12 ] These keywords need to be different from the words in the main title (the title words are automatically used for indexing the article) and can be variants of the terms/phrases used in the title, or words from the abstract and the main text.[ 3 , 12 ] The ICMJE (International Committee of Medical Journal Editors; http://www.icmje.org/ ) also recommends publishing the clinical trial registration number at the end of the abstract.[ 7 , 14 ]

Checklist for a good abstract

Table 3 gives a checklist/useful tips for formulating a good abstract for a research paper.[ 1 , 2 , 3 , 7 , 8 , 9 , 10 , 11 , 12 , 13 , 14 , 17 , 22 ]

Checklist/useful tips for formulating a good abstract for a research paper

The abstract should have simple language and phrases (rather than sentences)
It should be informative, cohesive, and adhering to the structure (subheadings) provided by the target journal. Structured abstracts are preferred over unstructured abstracts
It should be independent and stand-alone/complete
It should be concise, interesting, unbiased, honest, balanced, and precise
It should not be misleading or misrepresentative; it should be consistent with the main text of the paper (especially after a revision is made)
It should utilize the full word capacity allowed by the journal so that most of the actual scientific facts of the main paper are represented in the abstract
It should include the key message prominently
It should adhere to the style and the word count specified by the target journal (usually about 250 words)
It should avoid nonstandard abbreviations and (if possible) avoid a passive voice
Authors should list appropriate “keywords” below the abstract (keywords are used for indexing purpose)

Concluding Remarks

This review article has given a detailed account of the importance and types of titles and abstracts. It has also attempted to give useful hints for drafting an appropriate title and a complete abstract for a research paper. It is hoped that this review will help the authors in their career in medical writing.

Financial support and sponsorship

Conflicts of interest.

There are no conflicts of interest.

Acknowledgement

The author thanks Dr. Hemant Deshmukh - Dean, Seth G.S. Medical College & KEM Hospital, for granting permission to publish this manuscript.

Business Research Library Guide for Graduate Students: How to Write a Research Question

  • Welcome and Introduction
  • Industry Research
  • Company Research
  • International Business
  • Data & Statistics
  • Business Journals, Newspapers, and Magazines
  • Search Tips & Strategies
  • Evaluating Information
  • How to Write a Research Question
  • Get Help with Writing
  • Citing Your Sources
  • Open Access & Open Education Resources
  • Copley Library's DEIA Guide This link opens in a new window
  • Bloomberg Terminals This link opens in a new window

Steps for Developing Your Research Question

Step 1: Start with the basics: Conduct a general search on your topic.

  • Investigate what sources are available.
  • What are you interested in analyzing?
  • What do you want or need to know about your topic?
  • What are the requirements of your assignment?  What kinds of sources does your professor require?  

Step 2: Create a query.

  • List the keywords in your own words. This includes creating a list of synonyms for your topic.
  • Use general search techniques such as phrase searching (e.g., "corporate social responsibility"), Boolean Operators (AND, OR, NOT), truncation (rac*=race, races, racism, racial).
  • Employ business search techniques such as the ticker symbol, industry classification codes. 

Step 3: Conduct background research

  • Encyclopedias, newspapers, magazines, Google Scholar can be very useful for learning about your topic and help you decide what questions or themes you want to include in your paper.
  • Consult Bibliographies - utilize the work that has already been done

Step 4:  Write your research question

Questions to consider when writing your research question. They will help you organize your thoughts about your topic and help you pick specific themes or subtopics related to your main.  Answering the following questions will help:

  • Who: Is there a specific group or person you want to investigate or understand their experiences? Consider race or ethnicity, social or economic groups, gender or sexuality, age, or other human experiences.
  • What: What issue or problem are you researching or trying to solve? Why is your research question important? How are you adding your voice to the conversation about this topic?
  • Where: Is your research going to analyze a local (e.g., neighborhood in San Diego), regional (e.g., San Diego or Orange County), or national issue (e.g., United States or another country)?
  • When: Is your research current or historical?

​​​​​​​ Example of a research question: 

What action should social networking sites like Instagram and Facebook take to protect users’ personal information and privacy?

  • << Previous: Business Writing
  • Next: Get Help with Writing >>
  • Last Updated: Jul 11, 2024 12:18 PM
  • URL: https://libguides.sandiego.edu/busresearch2

Stack Exchange Network

Stack Exchange network consists of 183 Q&A communities including Stack Overflow , the largest, most trusted online community for developers to learn, share their knowledge, and build their careers.

Q&A for work

Connect and share knowledge within a single location that is structured and easy to search.

Can section headings in a paper be questions?

I searched and didn't see an answer to this. I'm writing a research paper using MLA, but I would be interested to know the answer to this for other styles as well.

My question is whether section headers can be questions. For example:

I could change that to this:

But for certain sections of my paper the question version seems more appropriate to me (note: my paper has nothing to do with vegetables!).

  • academic-writing

Nate's user avatar

I answer your question for APA. Psychological papers are very rigidly formatted, so possibly you have more leeway when following MLA, but I would suspect that the basics still apply.

To answer your question, we must first understand what the purpose of the headings is. To understand that, let's take a step back and look at the paper's title.

The APA Manual says that

A title should summarize the main idea of the manuscript simply and, if possible, with style. It should be a concise statement of the main topic and should identify the variables and theoretical issues under investigation and the relationship between them. An example of a good title is "Effect of Transformed Letters on Reading Speed." A title should be fully explanatory when standing alone. Although its principal function is to inform the reader about the study, a title is also used as a statement of article content for abstracting and reference purposes in databases such as APA's PsycINFO. A good title is easily shortened to the running head used within the published article. (APA, 2009, p. 23)

As an article in the APA Style Blog explains, a title should not be a question:

A great title gives away the ending. If your title is in the form of a yes–no question, try rephrasing it so that the question is answered or the answer at least alluded to. This primes the reader for deeper comprehension. If Philip K. Dick had written for an academic audience, you might be perusing Androids Dream of Electric Sheep: Empathy in Nonhuman Species before bed tonight. ( http://blog.apastyle.org/apastyle/2010/07/five-steps-to-a-great-title.html )

Why does the title of an academic paper have to "give away the ending"? Let's take another step back and look at the purpose of academic writing.

Academic writing, while it certainly profits from being entertaining, has the main purpose of transporting information. Throughout the APA Manual the basic requirement for academic writing is emphasized repeatedly, for example in the title of chapter 3: Writing Clearly and Concisely.

The prime objective of scientific reporting is clear communication. You can achieve this by presenting ideas in an orderly manner and by expressing yourself smoothly and precisely.

Now, if we want to understand what makes a good section heading, we only have to think of the heading as the title to that section and keep in mind the basic purpose of academic writing.

Most academics have to read several articles each day, besides doing their research, writing their own papers, holding classes, correcting student work, and taking care of administration. For that reason, exerimental papers in the natural sciences all have the same structure, and the main sections usually all have the same headings: Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion. For most natural scientists writing up their experimental findings, your question of phrasing a section heading as a question cannot arise, because the headings are predefined.

But even if you deviate from this dogmatic style, your headings still have the purpose of organizing your communication and identifying structural elements:

In scientific writing, sound organizational structure is the key to clear, precise, and logical communication. This includes the use of headings to effectively organzie the ideas within a study as well as seriation to highlight important items within sections. Concise headings help the reader anticipate key points and track the development of your argument.

Taking all this together, if you wrote your paper according to APA stlye, your

section headings must not be phrased as questions.

But "Why Eating Vegetables is Important" is not a good section heading either, because it does not "give away the ending". A good section heading might be something like:

a good section heading will be the answer to the question.

Community's user avatar

Your Answer

Reminder: Answers generated by artificial intelligence tools are not allowed on Writing Stack Exchange. Learn more

Sign up or log in

Post as a guest.

Required, but never shown

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy .

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged academic-writing mla titles or ask your own question .

  • Featured on Meta
  • Upcoming initiatives on Stack Overflow and across the Stack Exchange network...
  • We spent a sprint addressing your requests — here’s how it went

Hot Network Questions

  • Please help me with some ideas
  • Story about Jesus being kidnapped by the church
  • A Ring of Cubes
  • Linux disk space running full
  • How to relocate an outlet forward into a new wall?
  • Any philosophical works that explicitly address the heat death of the Universe and its philosophical implications?
  • Which civil aircraft use fly-by-wire without mechanical backup?
  • What happened to the job market for assembly programmers once high level languages became mainstream?
  • Flyback Diode Forward Voltage
  • Why do the Fourier components of a piano note shift away from the harmonic series?
  • How do I get Windows 11 to use existing Linux GPT on 6TB external HDD?
  • Pattern on a PCB
  • Is "double-lowercase-L" a ligature (Computer Modern Italic)?
  • How does this problem relate to the 50 & 75 move rules?
  • Why were early (personal) computer connectors so bulky?
  • Working with character tables
  • Confusion about the probability of a continuous random variable at a given point
  • How should I analyse TV episode popularity while accounting for time?
  • The human population on Earth reached its maximum with the end of the last zoo
  • Iterating over the contents of a file
  • Given a special name
  • What is the syndrome in Hastings and Haah honeycomb code?
  • Good to have a packed tourist like itinerary when considering for Japan's visitor visa?
  • Can a festival or a celebration like Halloween be "invented"?

can your research paper title be a question

Sacred Heart University Library

Organizing Academic Research Papers: Choosing a Title

  • Purpose of Guide
  • Design Flaws to Avoid
  • Glossary of Research Terms
  • Narrowing a Topic Idea
  • Broadening a Topic Idea
  • Extending the Timeliness of a Topic Idea
  • Academic Writing Style
  • Choosing a Title
  • Making an Outline
  • Paragraph Development
  • Executive Summary
  • Background Information
  • The Research Problem/Question
  • Theoretical Framework
  • Citation Tracking
  • Content Alert Services
  • Evaluating Sources
  • Primary Sources
  • Secondary Sources
  • Tertiary Sources
  • What Is Scholarly vs. Popular?
  • Qualitative Methods
  • Quantitative Methods
  • Using Non-Textual Elements
  • Limitations of the Study
  • Common Grammar Mistakes
  • Avoiding Plagiarism
  • Footnotes or Endnotes?
  • Further Readings
  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Dealing with Nervousness
  • Using Visual Aids
  • Grading Someone Else's Paper
  • How to Manage Group Projects
  • Multiple Book Review Essay
  • Reviewing Collected Essays
  • About Informed Consent
  • Writing Field Notes
  • Writing a Policy Memo
  • Writing a Research Proposal
  • Acknowledgements

The title summarizes the main idea or ideas of your study. A good title contains the fewest possible words that adequately describe the contents and/or purpose of your research paper.

The title is without doubt the part of a paper that is read the most, and it is usually read first . If the title is too long it usually contains too many unnecessary words, e.g., "A Study to Investigate the...." On the other hand, a title which is too short often uses words which are too general. For example, "African Politics" could be the title of a book, but it does not provide any information on the focus of a research paper.

Structure and Writing Style

The following parameters can be used to help you formulate a suitable research paper title:

  • The purpose of the research
  • The narrative tone of the paper [typically defined by the type of the research]
  • The methods used

The initial aim of a title is to capture the reader’s attention and to draw his or her attention to the research problem being investigated.

Create a Working Title Typically, the final title you submit to your professor is created after the research is complete so that the title accurately captures what was done . The working title should be developed early in the research process because it can help anchor the focus of the study in much the same way the research problem does. Referring back to the working title can help you reorient yourself back to the main purpose of the study if you feel yourself drifting off on a tangent while writing. The Final Title Effective titles in academic research papers have several characteristics.

  • Indicate accurately the subject and scope of the study.
  • Avoid using abbreviations.
  • Use words that create a positive impression and stimulate reader interest.
  • Use current nomenclature from the field of study.
  • Identify key variables, both dependent and independent.
  • May reveal how the paper will be organized.
  • Suggest a relationship between variables which supports the major hypothesis.
  • Is limited to 10 to 15 substantive words.
  • Do not include "study of," "analysis of" or similar constructions.
  • Titles are usually in the form of a phrase, but can also be in the form of a question.
  • Use correct grammar and capitalization with all first words and last words capitalized, including the first word of a subtitle. All nouns,  pronouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs that appear between the first and last words of the title are also capitalized.
  • In academic papers, rarely is a title followed by an exclamation mark. However, a title or subtitle can be in the form of a question.

The Subtitle Subtitles are quite common in social science research papers. Examples of why you may include a subtitle:

  • Explains or provides additional context , e.g., "Linguistic Ethnography and the Study of Welfare Institutions as a Flow of Social Practices: The Case of Residential Child Care Institutions as Paradoxical Institutions."
  • Adds substance to a literary, provocative, or imaginative title , e.g., "Listen to What I Say, Not How I Vote: Congressional Support for the President in Washington and at Home."
  • Qualifies the geographic scope of the research , e.g., "The Geopolitics of the Eastern Border of the European Union: The Case of Romania-Moldova-Ukraine."
  • Qualifies the temporal scope of the research , e.g., "A Comparison of the Progressive Era and the Depression Years: Societal Influences on Predictions of the Future of the Library, 1895-1940."
  • Focuses on investigating the ideas, theories, or work of a particular individual , e.g., "A Deliberative Conception of Politics: How Francesco Saverio Merlino Related Anarchy and Democracy."

Balch, Tucker. How to Compose a Title for Your Research Paper . Augmented Trader blog. School of Interactive Computing, Georgia Tech University;  Choosing the Proper Research Paper Titles . AplusReports.com, 2007-2012; General Format. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University.

  • << Previous: Academic Writing Style
  • Next: Making an Outline >>
  • Last Updated: Jul 18, 2023 11:58 AM
  • URL: https://library.sacredheart.edu/c.php?g=29803
  • QuickSearch
  • Library Catalog
  • Databases A-Z
  • Publication Finder
  • Course Reserves
  • Citation Linker
  • Digital Commons
  • Our Website

Research Support

  • Ask a Librarian
  • Appointments
  • Interlibrary Loan (ILL)
  • Research Guides
  • Databases by Subject
  • Citation Help

Using the Library

  • Reserve a Group Study Room
  • Renew Books
  • Honors Study Rooms
  • Off-Campus Access
  • Library Policies
  • Library Technology

User Information

  • Grad Students
  • Online Students
  • COVID-19 Updates
  • Staff Directory
  • News & Announcements
  • Library Newsletter

My Accounts

  • Interlibrary Loan
  • Staff Site Login

Sacred Heart University

FIND US ON  

Have a language expert improve your writing

Run a free plagiarism check in 10 minutes, generate accurate citations for free.

  • Knowledge Base
  • Starting the research process
  • Writing Strong Research Questions | Criteria & Examples

Writing Strong Research Questions | Criteria & Examples

Published on October 26, 2022 by Shona McCombes . Revised on November 21, 2023.

A research question pinpoints exactly what you want to find out in your work. A good research question is essential to guide your research paper , dissertation , or thesis .

All research questions should be:

  • Focused on a single problem or issue
  • Researchable using primary and/or secondary sources
  • Feasible to answer within the timeframe and practical constraints
  • Specific enough to answer thoroughly
  • Complex enough to develop the answer over the space of a paper or thesis
  • Relevant to your field of study and/or society more broadly

Writing Strong Research Questions

Table of contents

How to write a research question, what makes a strong research question, using sub-questions to strengthen your main research question, research questions quiz, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about research questions.

You can follow these steps to develop a strong research question:

  • Choose your topic
  • Do some preliminary reading about the current state of the field
  • Narrow your focus to a specific niche
  • Identify the research problem that you will address

The way you frame your question depends on what your research aims to achieve. The table below shows some examples of how you might formulate questions for different purposes.

Research question formulations
Describing and exploring
Explaining and testing
Evaluating and acting is X

Using your research problem to develop your research question

Example research problem Example research question(s)
Teachers at the school do not have the skills to recognize or properly guide gifted children in the classroom. What practical techniques can teachers use to better identify and guide gifted children?
Young people increasingly engage in the “gig economy,” rather than traditional full-time employment. However, it is unclear why they choose to do so. What are the main factors influencing young people’s decisions to engage in the gig economy?

Note that while most research questions can be answered with various types of research , the way you frame your question should help determine your choices.

Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.

Research questions anchor your whole project, so it’s important to spend some time refining them. The criteria below can help you evaluate the strength of your research question.

Focused and researchable

Criteria Explanation
Focused on a single topic Your central research question should work together with your research problem to keep your work focused. If you have multiple questions, they should all clearly tie back to your central aim.
Answerable using Your question must be answerable using and/or , or by reading scholarly sources on the to develop your argument. If such data is impossible to access, you likely need to rethink your question.
Not based on value judgements Avoid subjective words like , , and . These do not give clear criteria for answering the question.

Feasible and specific

Criteria Explanation
Answerable within practical constraints Make sure you have enough time and resources to do all research required to answer your question. If it seems you will not be able to gain access to the data you need, consider narrowing down your question to be more specific.
Uses specific, well-defined concepts All the terms you use in the research question should have clear meanings. Avoid vague language, jargon, and too-broad ideas.

Does not demand a conclusive solution, policy, or course of action Research is about informing, not instructing. Even if your project is focused on a practical problem, it should aim to improve understanding rather than demand a ready-made solution.

If ready-made solutions are necessary, consider conducting instead. Action research is a research method that aims to simultaneously investigate an issue as it is solved. In other words, as its name suggests, action research conducts research and takes action at the same time.

Complex and arguable

Criteria Explanation
Cannot be answered with or Closed-ended, / questions are too simple to work as good research questions—they don’t provide enough for robust investigation and discussion.

Cannot be answered with easily-found facts If you can answer the question through a single Google search, book, or article, it is probably not complex enough. A good research question requires original data, synthesis of multiple sources, and original interpretation and argumentation prior to providing an answer.

Relevant and original

Criteria Explanation
Addresses a relevant problem Your research question should be developed based on initial reading around your . It should focus on addressing a problem or gap in the existing knowledge in your field or discipline.
Contributes to a timely social or academic debate The question should aim to contribute to an existing and current debate in your field or in society at large. It should produce knowledge that future researchers or practitioners can later build on.
Has not already been answered You don’t have to ask something that nobody has ever thought of before, but your question should have some aspect of originality. For example, you can focus on a specific location, or explore a new angle.

Chances are that your main research question likely can’t be answered all at once. That’s why sub-questions are important: they allow you to answer your main question in a step-by-step manner.

Good sub-questions should be:

  • Less complex than the main question
  • Focused only on 1 type of research
  • Presented in a logical order

Here are a few examples of descriptive and framing questions:

  • Descriptive: According to current government arguments, how should a European bank tax be implemented?
  • Descriptive: Which countries have a bank tax/levy on financial transactions?
  • Framing: How should a bank tax/levy on financial transactions look at a European level?

Keep in mind that sub-questions are by no means mandatory. They should only be asked if you need the findings to answer your main question. If your main question is simple enough to stand on its own, it’s okay to skip the sub-question part. As a rule of thumb, the more complex your subject, the more sub-questions you’ll need.

Try to limit yourself to 4 or 5 sub-questions, maximum. If you feel you need more than this, it may be indication that your main research question is not sufficiently specific. In this case, it’s is better to revisit your problem statement and try to tighten your main question up.

If you want to know more about the research process , methodology , research bias , or statistics , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

Methodology

  • Sampling methods
  • Simple random sampling
  • Stratified sampling
  • Cluster sampling
  • Likert scales
  • Reproducibility

 Statistics

  • Null hypothesis
  • Statistical power
  • Probability distribution
  • Effect size
  • Poisson distribution

Research bias

  • Optimism bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Implicit bias
  • Hawthorne effect
  • Anchoring bias
  • Explicit bias

The way you present your research problem in your introduction varies depending on the nature of your research paper . A research paper that presents a sustained argument will usually encapsulate this argument in a thesis statement .

A research paper designed to present the results of empirical research tends to present a research question that it seeks to answer. It may also include a hypothesis —a prediction that will be confirmed or disproved by your research.

As you cannot possibly read every source related to your topic, it’s important to evaluate sources to assess their relevance. Use preliminary evaluation to determine whether a source is worth examining in more depth.

This involves:

  • Reading abstracts , prefaces, introductions , and conclusions
  • Looking at the table of contents to determine the scope of the work
  • Consulting the index for key terms or the names of important scholars

A research hypothesis is your proposed answer to your research question. The research hypothesis usually includes an explanation (“ x affects y because …”).

A statistical hypothesis, on the other hand, is a mathematical statement about a population parameter. Statistical hypotheses always come in pairs: the null and alternative hypotheses . In a well-designed study , the statistical hypotheses correspond logically to the research hypothesis.

Writing Strong Research Questions

Formulating a main research question can be a difficult task. Overall, your question should contribute to solving the problem that you have defined in your problem statement .

However, it should also fulfill criteria in three main areas:

  • Researchability
  • Feasibility and specificity
  • Relevance and originality

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

McCombes, S. (2023, November 21). Writing Strong Research Questions | Criteria & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved July 10, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/research-process/research-questions/

Is this article helpful?

Shona McCombes

Shona McCombes

Other students also liked, how to define a research problem | ideas & examples, how to write a problem statement | guide & examples, 10 research question examples to guide your research project, get unlimited documents corrected.

✔ Free APA citation check included ✔ Unlimited document corrections ✔ Specialized in correcting academic texts

  • How To Setup Your Software
  • Motivational Stories
  • Funny Jokes
  • Memory Techniques
  • MLA Format FAQs

1. On my first page, do I enter my paper’s due date or the day I turn my paper in?

You enter your paper’s due date, not the day you turn in your paper.

2. Does my paper need a cover page?

No. The Modern Language Association (MLA) does not require you to create a cover page when you complete your research paper. If your instructor requires a cover page, simply follow the instructions here: MLA cover page .

3. Should I bold, italicize, or underline my research paper’s title?

Your research paper’s title should not be bold, italicize or underline. It should be in the same text as your paper. Visit here for an example, under “the opening page”.

4. Do I have to put my last name and page number on every page?

Yes, you must put your last name and page number on every page, including the first page (the opening page) and your Works Cited pages.

5. Do I have to double-space the whole paper?

Yes, you must double-space the whole paper, including the heading, the title and the Works Cited pages. Simply double-space everything, but do not add extra spaces besides the double-space.

6. Do I have to use Times New Roman font?

No. The MLA does not require you to use Times New Roman as long as the font you choose is easily readable.

7. How do I handle the citation when one author quotes another?

This happens frequently. As in Donald Kagan’s book, The Peloponnesian War, which often quotes Thucydides. Using MLA format, you may write:

Kagan approvingly quotes Thucydides, who says that Athens acquired this vital site “because of the hatred they already felt toward the Spartans” (qtd. in Kagan 14).

In your Works Cited, you include Kagan but not Thucydides.

8. Some MLA citations, such as newspaper articles, use the names of months. Which ones should I abbreviate and which ones should I spell out?

Use three-letter abbreviations for all but the short names: May, June and July.

9. Instead of Works Cited, can I use Bibliography?

No. The MLA requires your Works Cited page to begin with Works Cited, centered, one inch top margin. Visit here for an example, under #3, the Works Cited page.

10. Can I use a question as the title of my paper?

Yes, you can. Just make sure the question is answered, conclusion is drawn and recommendations are made. Here is a sample paper with the title as a question.

11. I have to include a cover page with my research paper, do I still need to include my full name and title on the opening page?

Please visit here => see under “Alternate First Page”

12. For the heading on page one, must the date be formatted day month year?

You can use either “day-month-year” style or “month-day-year” style. Whichever style you use, be consistent throughout your paper.

If you begin with the month, be sure to add a comma after the day. Example: December 12, 2012

When I am mentioning the title of a book, I know it has to be in quotations but does it have to be italicized as well?

what are the key points to master in MLA

If you have to include a table of contents, does that page include a page number in the right hand corner?

Does it matter what font size I use when typing the title page? And if so, what size should the font be for the title?

Is it appropriate to put tables, figures etc at the end of the research paper in lieu of placing them near the text? Is it up to the writer?

How do I do a citation from a Website with no page numbers? Also, how do I continue to cite within the essay if I use this same source back-to-back before switching to another cited work?

Hi Michelle! Please visit this page: http://academictips.org/mla-format/how-do-i-cite-a-website-in-mla-format/

For a quotation shorter than four lines, quotation marks are used and the page numbers fall inside the ending punctuation.

According to DR. Shannon Marcus: “Many of our student’s personal decisions will have the inherent dangers of instant gratification, and so will their political decisions,” (548).

Block, or indent, quotations longer than four lines of type. When a quotation is indented, the use of quotation marks is not necessary, and the page number is included outside the ending punctuation.

Jordan stated:

Like many people who enjoy a leisurely pace of living with such attendant activities as reading, painting, or gardening, I often long for a simpler time, a time when families amused themselves by telling stories after supper, as opposed to watching Baghdad get bombed. (1)

Block quotes are indented by one inch, and should be used sparingly.

When you have a quotation within a quotation, handle it this way:

Indented original (article by David Fricke appearing in Rolling Stone):

Clapton [Eric] got the chills when he listened to that material recently. It was the first time he had done so in over fifteen years. “It got too much for me,” he says. “Old memories started coming back; old issues raised their head. I think of the people in that band and what happened to them.” (qtd. in Fricke 26)

Notice that this quotation is indented because it is longer than four lines. Therefore, no quotation marks are used at the beginning or the end. The quotation marks that appear at the end are the result of needing quotation marks around Clapton’s remark, not because the entire paragraph is a quotation. Notice also that the first line is indented an additional five spaces. That’s because it’s the first sentence in the paragraph in the original. If you begin a quotation in mid-paragraph, there is no indention.

Clapton’s name does not appear on your Works Cited page as he is not your source. Fricke is the source. Therefore, Fricke’s name should appear. Since Clapton is speaking, however, use “qtd. in” (quoted in) for clarification.

Be sure to introduce the author from the source work within the sentence itself and use quotation marks. No comma is necessary to introduce the quoted phrase.

Margaret Reardon points out that today’s economy cars are “better equipped” to handle accidents than the smaller cars of the past.

If your source makes a “mistak”, you copy the mistake because direct quotations are copied verbatim. However, you indicate that the mistake is not yours by using [sic], which means “thus” and tells the reader that the error appears in the original.

The professor stressed that “if your source makes a mistak [sic], you should copy the mistake because direct quotations are copied verbatim.”

Leave a Comment

Current ye ignore me @r *

Leave this field empty

Next post: MLA Format Microsoft Word 2003

Previous post: All about copyright

  • How to Format the Research Paper
  • MLA Format Cover Page
  • MLA Format Headings
  • MLA Citations
  • MLA Format Works Cited
  • MLA Format Sample Paper
  • MLA Sample Paper w/ Cover & Outline Pages
  • General Format of the APA Paper
  • APA Format Title Page
  • APA Format Abstract Page
  • APA Headings
  • APA Format Citations
  • APA Reference Page
  • APA Sample Paper

AcademicTips.org 1999–2024 • MLA Format • Privacy • Back to top ↑

  • Skip to main content
  • Skip to main navigation

Preparing to Write Survey Questions

Choosing your data type, qualitative.

Data that is verbally based (words and concepts).

Offers insight into research questions.

May identify emerging trends in the data not previously considered by the researcher.

Provides more direct representation of subjects’ responses.

Requires multiple stages of data analysis.

Introduces researcher subjectivity in data analysis (see  ).     

Quantitative

Data is numerically based (numbers only).

Allows for the direct application of statistical models such as ANOVA or t-tests (see  ) to identify general trends and patterns.

Potential for large data sets.

Limits insights to what the data shows statistically.                              

One survey data type is not necessarily better than another. As summarized by Ahmad (2019), “Quantitative data can help to see the big picture. Qualitative data adds the details.” What type of data you need is going to be dependent on what you are trying to analyze.

Choosing Your Question Format

Open-ended questions.

Open-ended questions are those in which a survey respondent can generate a unique response using their own words. These are seen predominantly in qualitative data surveys. These types of questions are particularly useful when information is needed about individual-specific context that might not be accounted for in a multiple-choice type closed-ended format. A key benefit of open-ended questions is that they allow for respondents to give personalized responses that are not confined to the choice selection set by the researcher. This is simultaneously a key disadvantage, however as it introduces the need for qualitative coding and in turn, introduces a new source of error.

Some examples of open-ended survey questions would be:

  • What was your impression about working in groups?

Describe any study techniques you found to be beneficial.

Open-ended survey questions are generally useful for small sample populations. Though these questions offer great insights, on a large sample population scale they are often unfeasible due to the administrative planning and analysis required. If you want the insight from open-ended questions but are working with a large respondent pool, a small sample population can be given an open-ended question-based Pilot Survey to obtain information and inform the design of close-ended question surveys for your larger populations.

Closed-Ended Questions

Closed-ended questions are those in which the response options are limited and provided with the survey. These can be used in qualitative data acquisition as well as quantitative. Some of the main benefits of closed-ended questions are the reduction of the need for communication skills on the behalf of the respondent and the ease of analysis. Conversely, some of the main disadvantages include lack of depth in responses and lack of emergent insights (Hyman and Sierra 2016). These question types help to eliminate sources of error in the data analysis by reducing or eliminating the need to code free response answers; however, the data obtained will be limited to response options generated by the researcher. Closed-ended survey questions can often be evaluated statistically and are easier to use when evaluating large sample sizes, which encourages studies that are more generalizable. Some examples of closed-ended survey questions would be:

  • Rewriting Notes
  • Group Study
  • None of these

Thinking Ahead

Often, qualitative data are linked to open-ended questions while closed-ended questions are paired with quantitative data. The reality is that open-ended qualitative questions can be converted into quantitative data and conversely closed-ended quantitative questions can be used to glean qualitative data. The key is the coding, so write the questions in whichever way will give you the data you are most needing to see while keeping in mind the logistical elements that come along with delivering each type to the population you are studying.

Ahmad, S., Wasim, S., Irfan, S., Gogoi, S., Srivastava, A., & Farheen, Z. (2019). Qualitative v/s. Quantitative Research- A Summarized Review. Journal of Evidence Based Medicine and Healthcare, 6(43).  https://journals.indexcopernicus.com/api/file/viewByFileId/916903.pdf

Hyman, M., & Sierra, J. (2016). Open- versus close-ended survey questions.  NMSU Business Outlook ,  14 (2), 1–5.

Creative Commons License

Academy for Teaching and Learning

Moody Library, Suite 201

One Bear Place Box 97189 Waco, TX 76798-7189

  • General Information
  • Academics & Research
  • Administration
  • Gateways for ...
  • About Baylor
  • Give to Baylor
  • Pro Futuris
  • Social Media
  • College of Arts & Sciences
  • Diana R. Garland School of Social Work
  • George W. Truett Theological Seminary
  • Graduate School
  • Hankamer School of Business
  • Honors College
  • Louise Herrington School of Nursing
  • Research at Baylor University
  • Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences
  • School of Education
  • School of Engineering & Computer Science
  • School of Music
  • University Libraries, Museums, and the Press
  • More Academics
  • Compliance, Risk and Safety
  • Human Resources
  • Marketing and Communications
  • Office of General Counsel
  • Office of the President
  • Office of the Provost
  • Operations, Finance & Administration
  • Senior Administration
  • Student Life
  • University Advancement
  • Undergraduate Admissions
  • Graduate Admissions
  • Baylor Law School Admissions
  • Social Work Graduate Programs
  • George W. Truett Theological Seminary Admissions
  • Online Graduate Professional Education
  • Virtual Tour
  • Visit Campus
  • Alumni & Friends
  • Faculty & Staff
  • Prospective Faculty & Staff
  • Prospective Students
  • Anonymous Reporting
  • Annual Fire Safety and Security Notice
  • Cost of Attendance
  • Digital Privacy
  • Legal Disclosures
  • Mental Health Resources
  • Web Accessibility

IMAGES

  1. Can a Research Paper Title Be a Question (Quick Answer)

    can your research paper title be a question

  2. Can a Research Paper Title Be a Question (Quick Answer)

    can your research paper title be a question

  3. Research Paper Title Page

    can your research paper title be a question

  4. Research Paper Title

    can your research paper title be a question

  5. Can the Research Paper Title be a Question? Start How or What?

    can your research paper title be a question

  6. Research Paper Title Page

    can your research paper title be a question

VIDEO

  1. Ill write your research paper or essay for you… with JotBot AI

  2. Start your Research paper writing using this AI Tool

  3. Writing Good Research Paper Title

  4. Writing Your Research Paper, Part I: Researching Your Topic

  5. How to Write a Thesis Title Thesis Tutorial No 3

  6. 6 issues to AVOID when writing your [dissertation / thesis] TITLE

COMMENTS

  1. Can a research paper title be a question?

    1 Answer to this question. Answer: Ideally, the title of your research paper should be more informative so that it attracts the attention of the readers. It should provide more information about your research and the main outcome that you have achieved. It is not advisable to have a question as the title of your paper as it is the first thing ...

  2. Can a Research Title Be a Question? Real-World Examples

    Popularity of question titles. It is not that popular for a research title to be a question. In fact, only 3.2% of titles in our sample contained a question mark (n=314 out of 9,830 titles). The titles of review articles (systematic reviews and meta-analyses) are slightly more likely to be phrased as questions than those of original research ...

  3. How to Write a Title for Your Research Paper

    Being specific in your title is also important for indexing purposes. So, make sure to provide the most important keyword (s) of your paper in the title. 5. The title contains question marks, hyphens and colons. By phrasing your title as a question, you merely present your research question instead of your key message.

  4. Can a Research Paper Title Be a Question?

    Research paper titles can be questions provided they provide enough information on the focus of the work. The questions shouldn't be long or short. Rather, they should have the right word limit to communicate the central message of the paper. In other words, readers should read the question title and know immediately what the research paper is.

  5. APA Style 6th Edition Blog: Five Steps to a Great Title

    Below are five general principles that, if followed, will produce a great title: A great title summarizes the main idea of the paper. Your title should identify the key issues under investigation as well as how they relate to each other. The title "The Effects of Transformed Letters on Reading Speed" achieves this goal, whereas the title ...

  6. How to Write a Good Research Paper Title: Tips and Examples

    Writing a research paper is a crucial part of academic life, but crafting a compelling title can be just as important as the content itself. A good research paper title not only captures the essence of your work but also attracts potential readers and helps your paper stand out in a sea of academic literature.

  7. Choosing a Title

    The following parameters can be used to help you formulate a suitable research paper title: The purpose of the research; The scope of the research; ... Takes the form of a question or declarative statement, If you use a quote as part of the title, the source of the quote is cited [usually using an asterisk and footnote], ...

  8. How to Write a Great Title

    Entice the reader. Find a way to pique your readers' interest, give them enough information to keep them reading. Incorporate important keywords. Consider what about your article will be most interesting to your audience: Most readers come to an article from a search engine, so take some time and include the important ones in your title ...

  9. Research Paper Title

    Research Paper Title. Research Paper Title is the name or heading that summarizes the main theme or topic of a research paper.It serves as the first point of contact between the reader and the paper, providing an initial impression of the content, purpose, and scope of the research.A well-crafted research paper title should be concise, informative, and engaging, accurately reflecting the key ...

  10. How to Write a Research Paper Title with Examples

    Make sure your research title describes (a) the topic, (b) the method, (c) the sample, and (d) the results of your study. You can use the following formula: [ Result ]: A [ method] study of [ topic] among [ sample] Example: Meditation makes nurses perform better: a qualitative study of mindfulness meditation among German nursing students. Avoid ...

  11. The Research Question

    Research questions help writers focus their research by providing a path through the research and writing process. The specificity of a well-developed research question helps writers avoid the "all-about" paper and work toward supporting a specific, arguable thesis. A research question should be: Clear

  12. PDF WRITING AN EFFECTIVE TITLE

    Look for an image that is a bit unusual or surprising. Write a title beginning with an -ing verb (like "Creating a Good Title"). Write a title beginning with On (like "On the Titles of Essays"). Write a title that is a lie about the essay. (You probably won't use this one, but it might stimulate your thinking.)

  13. How to Write Catchy Research Paper Titles with Examples

    Let's look at some basic rules to follow while crafting a fitting title for your research paper. 2.1 Be Specific and Avoid Being Generic. ... Two-part titles can pose a question in the first part to grab attention, with the second part providing a more academic description of the content. Two-part questions can also use the second part to ...

  14. Can Essay Titles Be Questions? A Guide To Writing Effective Essay Titles

    1. Look at Your Research Question. Your research question should not be the essay title but can give you a starting point. If you are given a research question, use it to start some initial research and form a preliminary thesis statement. This can help you write your title. 2. Write the Title Last. If you can, write the title of your essay last.

  15. 5 Simple steps to write a good research paper title

    You can also go on to read the rest of the article to deepen your understanding of which best practices to follow while writing a captivating, yet informative title for your research paper. The following example will help you understand how you can go about writing a good title for your research paper in 5 simple steps:

  16. Research Guides: Writing a Scientific Paper: TITLE

    However too long a title can sometimes be even less meaningful. Remember a title is not an abstract. Also a title is not a sentence. Goals: • Fewest possible words that describe the contents of the paper. • Avoid waste words like "Studies on", or "Investigations on". • Use specific terms rather than general. • Watch your word order and ...

  17. How to Write a Research Paper Title

    Paste your content: Once logged in, paste your research paper's content or abstract onto the document. Generate your title: Click on 'Templates' in the side navigation pane, go to Titles, and select 'Generate' . Paperpal will analyze your content and propose a fitting research paper title. If it doesn't quite hit the mark, simply ...

  18. Writing the title and abstract for a research paper: Being concise

    This is the one which has a query or the research question in the title.[3,4,16] Though a query in the title has the ability to sensationalize the topic, and has more downloads (but less citations), it can be distracting to the reader and is again best avoided for a research article (but can, at times, be used for a review article).[3,6,16,17]

  19. 3 Basic tips on writing a good research paper title

    A good research paper title: So here are three basic tips to keep in mind while writing a title: 1] Keep it simple, brief and attractive: The primary function of a title is to provide a precise summary of the paper's content. So keep the title brief and clear. Use active verbs instead of complex noun-based phrases, and avoid unnecessary details.

  20. How to Write a Research Question

    Encyclopedias, newspapers, magazines, Google Scholar can be very useful for learning about your topic and help you decide what questions or themes you want to include in your paper. Consult Bibliographies - utilize the work that has already been done; Step 4: Write your research question . Questions to consider when writing your research question.

  21. academic writing

    For that reason, exerimental papers in the natural sciences all have the same structure, and the main sections usually all have the same headings: Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion. For most natural scientists writing up their experimental findings, your question of phrasing a section heading as a question cannot arise, because the ...

  22. Organizing Academic Research Papers: Choosing a Title

    All nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs that appear between the first and last words of the title are also capitalized. In academic papers, rarely is a title followed by an exclamation mark. However, a title or subtitle can be in the form of a question. The Subtitle. Subtitles are quite common in social science research papers.

  23. Writing Strong Research Questions

    A good research question is essential to guide your research paper, dissertation, or thesis. All research questions should be: Focused on a single problem or issue. Researchable using primary and/or secondary sources. Feasible to answer within the timeframe and practical constraints. Specific enough to answer thoroughly.

  24. MLA Format FAQs

    10. Can I use a question as the title of my paper? Yes, you can. Just make sure the question is answered, conclusion is drawn and recommendations are made. Here is a sample paper with the title as a question. 11. I have to include a cover page with my research paper, do I still need to include my full name and title on the opening page?

  25. How to Write a Research Paper Introduction in 4 Steps

    By following the steps below, you can learn how to write an introduction for a research paper that helps readers "shake hands" with your topic. In each step, thinking about the answers to key questions can help you reach your readers. 1. Get your readers' attention. To speak to your readers effectively, you need to know who they are.

  26. Can an essay title be a question and does it need punctuation?

    So as you can see, questions can serve as effective essay titles. Unless your instructor's particular rules or style guide explicitly disallows it, you should have no trouble with a question mark ...

  27. Preparing to Write Survey Questions

    Choosing Your Data Type Qualitative Data that is verbally based (words and concepts). Strengths Weaknesses Offers insight into research questions. May identify emerging trends in the data not previously considered by the researcher. Provides more direct representation of subjects' responses. Requires multiple stages of data analysis.