Structural Organisation of Research Article Titles: A Comparative Study of Titles of Business, Gynaecology and Law

Kingsley Richard Appiah, Christopher Ankomah, Harrison Yaw Osei, Timothy Hattoh-Ahiaduvor


Since titles are gateways to the heart of research articles (RAs), their organisational structure should be regarded very crucial in appealing to the potential reader. This study aimed to investigate how titles of RAs are presented in three disciplines (Gynaecology/Obstetrics, Business, and Law). After a thorough study of 574 titles, the study revealed that Business titles were averagely longer than those in the other two disciplines. In terms of title style, it was revealed that the Single Unit Title was extensively used in Gynaecology/Obstetrics and Law, while the Compound Unit Title dominated the Business titles. Syntactically, Noun Phrases extremely dominated the Single Unit Titles across the three domains. Detailed examination of the NP modifications showed that nominal titles which were both Pre and Post-modified were highly frequent in all the disciplines, which contrasts what is in the literature. The study also identified the Prepositional Phrase as the commonest structure used in post-modifying the nominal structures than using non-finite clauses in all the disciplines. Again, colon was the most predominant punctuation mark used in partitioning the Compound Unit Titles across the three disciplines, with Law recording the highest followed by Gynaecology/Obstetrics and Business. Lastly, the data exhibited high frequency of Domain-Specific words in the titles more than Research-Based words across the disciplines. This study provides useful information on the nature of effective RA titles to novice writers and advanced authors. It also informs the teaching of academic writing skills.


Cross-disciplinary, Ra Titles, Style, Syntactic Structures, Text Length

Full Text:



Afful, J. B. A. (2017). A linguistic analysis of conference paper titles in applied linguistics. International Journal of Foreign Language Teaching and Research, 5(18), 11-25.

Afful, J. B. A. & Mwinlaaru, I. (2010). Commonality and individuality in academic writing: An analysis of conference paper titles of four scholars. ESP Worlds, (1/927), 9, 1-32

Anthony, L. (2001) Characteristic features of research article titles in computer science. IEEE Transactions of Professional Communication 44(3): 187-194. DOI: 10.1109/47.946464

Alcaraz, M. A. & Mendez, D. I. (2016). When astrophysics meets lay and specialised audiences: Titles in popular and scientific paper. Journal of Language and Communication, 3(2), 133-146.

Bavdakar, S. B. (2016). Formulating the right title for a research article. Journal of the Association of Physicians of India, 64, 53-56.

Biber, D. & Gray, B. (2010). Challenging Stereotypes about Academic Writing: Complexity, Elaboration, Explicitness. Journal of English for Specific Purposes, 9(1), 20, 2-20.

Biber, D., Johansson, S., Leech, G., Conrad, S. & Finegan, E. (1999). Longman grammar of spoken and written English. England: Longman.

Busch-Lauer, I.A. (2000). Titles of English and German research papers in medicine and linguistics theses and research articles. In A. Trosborg (Ed.) Analysing professional genre (pp. 77-94). Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamin.

Cheng, S. W., Kuo, C. & Kuo, C. (2012). Research article titles in applied linguistics. Journal of Academic Language and Learning, 6(1), A1-A14.

Cook, D. A., Beckman, T. J. & Bordage, G. (2007). A systematic review of titles and abstracts of experimental studies in medical education informative elements missing. Medical Education, 41(11), 1074-1081.

Day, R. A. (1998). How to write and publish a scientific paper. (5th ed.). India: The ORYX Press.

Eggins, S. (1994). An introduction to systemic functional linguistics. London & New York: Continuum.

Fischer, B. A. & Zigmond, M. J. (2004). Components of a research article. Retrieved from

Fortanet G., I., Coll García, J. F., Palmer S. J. C. & Posteguillo, G. S. (1997). The writing of titles in academic research articles. In R. C. Marín, & A. R. Navarrete (Eds.) Lenguas aplicadas a las cienciasy la tecnología: Aproximaciones, (pp. 155-158). Cáceres (Spain): Servicio de Publicaciones de la Universidad de Extremadura.

Fortanet, G. I., Posteguillo, G. S., Coll García, J. F. & Palmer, S. J. C. (1998). Linguistic analysis of research article titles: Disciplinary variations. In I. Vázquez, & I. Guillén (Eds.) Perspectivas Pragmáticas en Linguistica Aplicada, (pp. 443-447). Zaragoza (Spain): Anubar Ediciones.

Fox, C. W. & Burns, C. S. (2015). The relationship between manuscript title structure and success: Editorial decisions and citation performance for an ecological journal. Ecology and Evolution, 5(10), 1970-1980.

Fumani, M. R. F. Q., Goltaji, M. & Parto, P. (2015). The impact of title length and

punctuation marks on article citations. Annals of Library and Information Studies, 62(1), 126-132.

Gesuato, S. (2008). Encoding of information in titles: Practices across four genres in

Linguistics. In C. Taylor (Ed.). Ecolingua: The role of e-copora in translation and language learning (pp.127-157). Trieste: EUT.

Grant, J. M. (2013). What makes a good title? Health Information and Libraries Journal, 30(4), 259-260.

Greenbaum, S. (1996). English Grammar. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Gustavii, B. (2008). How to write and illustrate scientific papers. (2nd ed.). UK: Cambridge University Press.

Habibzadeh, F. & Yadollahie, M. (2010). Are shorter articles more attractive for citation? Cross-sectional study of 22 scientific journals. Scientometrics, 51, 165-170. Doi:10.3325/cmj.2010.51.165

Haggan, M. (2004). Research paper titles in literature, linguistics and science: Dimensions of attraction. Journal of Pragmatics, 36(2), 293-317.

Halliday, M. A. K. (1994). An introduction to functional grammar. (2nd ed.). London: Edward Arnold Publishers Limited.

Halliday, M. A. K. (1998). Things and relations: Regrammaticising experience as technical knowledge. In J. R. Martin & R. Veel (Eds.). Reading science: Critical and functional perspectives on discourse of science (pp. 185-235). London: Routledge.

Hartley, J. (2007). Planning that title: Practices and preferences for titles with colons in academic articles. Library & Information Science Research, 29(4), 553-568.

Hudson, J. (2016). An analysis of the titles of papers submitted to the UK REF in 2014: Authors, disciplines, and stylistic details. Scientometrics 109(1), 871-889. DOI 10.1007/s11192-016-2081-4

Imbelloni, L. E. (2012). Scientific articles’ titles: Thanks for the information contained in your title. Revista Brasileira de Anestesiologia, 62(2), 139-140.

Jamali, H. R. & Nikzad, M. (2011). Article type and its relation with the number of downloads

and citations. Scientometrics, 88(2), 653-661. DOI: 10.1007/s11192-011-0412-z

Kang, N & Yu, Q. (2011). Corpus-based stylistic analysis of tourism English. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 2(1), 129-136.

Moattarian, A. & Alibabaee, A. (2015). Syntactic structures in research article titles from three different disciplines: Applied linguistics, civil engineering, and dentistry. The Journal of Teaching Language Skills, 7(1), 27-50.

Moss, F. (2003). Titles, abstracts and authors. In G. M. Hall (Ed.), How to write a paper (pp. 42-50). (3rd ed.). London: BMJ Publishing group.

Nagano, R. (2015). Research article titles and disciplinary conventions: A corpus study of 8 disciplines. Journal of Academic Writing, 5(1), 133-144.

Rahman, S. & Hussein, M. (2016). A diachronic study on the information provided by the research titles of applied linguistics journals. Scientometrics, 108(3), 1315 – 1331.

Wang, Y. and Y. Bai (2007) A corpus-based syntactic study of medical research article titles. System, 35, 388-399.

Whissell, C. (1999). Linguistic complexity of abstracts and titles in highly cited journals. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 88, 76-86.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2010-2023 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD.

Advances in Language and Literary Studies

You may require to add the '' domain to your e-mail 'safe list’ If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox'. Otherwise, you may check your 'Spam mail' or 'junk mail' folders.