Title length

by on February 6, 2018 at 12:32 pm in Data Source, Economics, Education, Science | Permalink


We document strong and robust negative correlations between the length of the title of an economics article and different measures of scientific quality. Analyzing all articles published between 1970 and 2011 and referenced in EconLit, we find that articles with shorter titles tend to be published in better journals, to be more cited and to be more innovative. These correlations hold controlling for unobserved time-invariant and observed time-varying characteristics of teams of authors.

That is by Yann Bramoullé and Lorenzo Ductor at JEBO, via Michelle Dawson.

1 Hazel Meade February 6, 2018 at 12:35 pm

Long titles probably indicate that the authors are addressing a narrower question, while short titles indicate broader and more general results.


2 JWatts February 6, 2018 at 1:40 pm

+1, good point.


3 Niroscience February 6, 2018 at 1:49 pm

Yeah, you’re right – its probably this. Not to mention applications of general theories and models are far more likely to require description of the case or scenario in the title (and also end up citing the shorter titles in the process)


4 dearieme February 6, 2018 at 2:00 pm

Title: Macroeconomics Is Mainly Mumbo-Jumbo.

Summary: Well it is, isn’t it? You all know it, don’t you?

Place of publication: The Journal of the Bleedin’ Obvious.


5 Mark Thorson February 6, 2018 at 2:26 pm

An interesting speculation, but more research is needed.


6 Urban Demographics February 6, 2018 at 12:38 pm

This must be a great article judging by its title.


7 clamence February 6, 2018 at 7:15 pm

Self-recommending you could say


8 rayward February 6, 2018 at 12:51 pm

Pithy pays! Long titles filled with jargon are a warning that the text is filled with jargon. What’s with academics and jargon? It reminds me of back in the day when lawyers used lots of Latin in text (law review articles, briefs, court opinions, etc.). We succeeded in getting past that nonsense through a combination of humiliation and ostracization. I’m not sure that would wok with academics. Maybe assigning bad parking spaces would work.


9 thfmr February 6, 2018 at 2:08 pm

Great diagnosis; now heal thyself.


10 Thor February 6, 2018 at 7:48 pm

Pot, meet kettle.


11 adam February 6, 2018 at 12:52 pm

Or “better” journals have restrictions on title length.


12 A clockwork orange February 6, 2018 at 1:04 pm

On one hand, it was incredibly liberating. To be able to communicate via images across time and space. To make a representational story of your own life. It gave each person a power they’d never felt. In the end, the power and liberation seems to have been the democratization of celebrity. Everyday people understood what it felt like to be famous. 100 likes for an artististic photograph. A celebrity retweet. There were, of course, unintended effects. The photograph economy also gave rise to a widespread narcissism. Ideas of reference. And that’s on the positive spectrum.

There were also very real and methodical political allowances. People and organizations dedicated to the chess-type warfare of, for instance, white versus black culture were able to inject new and sophisticated representations of lynchings, gas chambers, etc. Child pornography has also found an uptick in the sharing-based photograph model.


13 DanC February 6, 2018 at 1:09 pm

Good Stuff


14 derek February 6, 2018 at 1:13 pm

In the common parlance it is called “Baffle them with Bullshit”.

But now we know it’s true because there is a study. Has it been peer reviewed?


15 Dave February 6, 2018 at 1:23 pm

There should be a word that describes clicking through on a blog post and planning to make a comment, only to see that the very first comment expressed precisely what you had planned.

Or maybe there is already such a word. I’m not exactly known for my expansive vocabulary…


16 Anonymous February 6, 2018 at 1:52 pm

“Been there , commented that ?”


17 A clockwork orange February 6, 2018 at 1:55 pm

The trapped producer.


18 A clockwork orange February 6, 2018 at 1:44 pm

100 likes for an artististic photograph. 200 likes for a pornographic metaphor.


19 Millian February 6, 2018 at 2:49 pm

Academic journal economics is grossly hierarchical. Name authors attract eyeballs with their names, so they write papers with short titles. They also get cites from people trying to look smart. Non-names have to explain what they are doing to the otherwise unimpressed selector / reader / Google robot.


20 Barkley Rosser February 6, 2018 at 4:18 pm

Hazel Meade suggests that short titles imply broader more general results, but it might be just the opposite: that a short title precisely defines a clear result, even though it may be narrow, whereas a long title may simply indicate confusion and not much in the way of results of any sort at all.


21 Wonks Anonymous February 7, 2018 at 11:49 am

But more prestigious journals publish LOWER quality papers in the sense of their replication rate:
Hat-tip to JD at Andrew Gelman’s.


22 Rob February 7, 2018 at 9:18 pm

Talk about making chicken salad out of chicken shit, this article ……


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