Variation in informativity of titles of research papers in selected humanities journals: A comparative study

M. Yitzhaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

Titles constitute the most concise statement of a document's content, and are heavily used by information retrieval systems. Consequently, the great importance of titles being highly informative is indisputable. The most common measure of title 'informativity' has been the number of 'substantive' words it includes. Previous studies found significant differences between journals of different subject fields, in the sciences and the social sciences, regarding the number of substantive words in article titles. However, unlike the sciences and the social sciences, very little research has been done on humanities journals. Examining title informativity in a group of eighteen leading English-language journals, covering various humanities disciplines, from 1940 to 1990, the present study searched for possible differences between the humanities journals and the scientific and social sciences ones, concerning patterns of title informativity. Generally, considerable differences were found in the number of substantive words in article titles between the various humanities journals checked. On the other hand, a comparison of the group-average means and medians of the humanities journals to group figures of journals from the sciences and the social sciences indicates significant differences for almost all decade years studied. However, titles of papers in humanities journals did follow the general trend of increase in informativity, although in a slower pace. Possible explanations of these differences are discussed and areas for further study are suggested.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-229
Number of pages11
JournalScientometrics
Volume38
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1997

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