how to name your baby?_four steps to getting a better title_patrick Dunleavy

Very interesting article on showing the techniques of “selling” your writing to colleagues.

What you should NOT do.

  1. A “cute” title using “ordinary language” words with a clear meaning, but taken radically out of context.
  2. A “cute” title that is completely obscure. eg: where even the language the author is includes in the title is incomprehensible.
  3. An ultra-vague, vacuous, completely conventional, or wholly formal title, preferably one that could mean almost anything. eg: “power and society ” could be about many things in sociology or political science; equally it could be about generating electricity and associated technology.
  4. An empty box title.
  5. The look-like, empty box title
  6. The interrogative title, which must always end with a question mark.

WHAT YOU should DO to get a better title.

  • The first step is to look, seriously, critically and comparatively at a range of possible alternative.

“How will this wording be interpreted by someone scanning on Google Scholar? What will attract them to click through to the abstract”

  • The second step is to look at whether your title words are picked up in the abstract of the article or chapter, and in the internal sub-heading.

“It is a good sign if the title, abstract and sub-headings all use consistent, linking, meshing or nesting concepts and vocabulary”

A third step is to consider using a full narrative title, one that makes completely clear what your argument, conclusions or findings are.

  • * (using keywords, key conceptions and memorable provocative ordinary word)

To provide some narrative clues in your title, some helpful hints or signs for readers about the conclusions you have reached or the line of argument you are making.

source: Partick Dunleavy, “Authoring a PhD” (Palgrave, 2003)


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