These two titles are freshly out of my feed readers: B-type natriuretic peptide inhibited angiotensin II-stimulated cholesterol biosynthesis, cholesterol transfer and steroidogenesis in primary human adrenocortical cells. and
How user friendly these titles are? Let’s examine me: Theoretically I have some (limited) background knowledge on these topics as they are covered by my Google Reader with some properly chosen search terms. For the first trial I see only familiar characters in a weird arrangement without any intelligence flash in my mind, for the second some mental forms are beginning to take shape, for the third a little more context enter, but instead of a fourth title trial I skip to the abstract in case I’m interested in what follows based on the previous title impressions. But I’d truly appreciate if I could capture at least half of the title at first. And the titles above are not the worst at all. After reading the steroidogenesis-one many times, it became my friend. But people would like to put less energy into conceiving a simple title and more to understand and apply the new results. A good title is about the proper filtering of the proper reader and vice versa.
Yes, there must be some good policies on titles of peer review articles. In case of the steroid paper, the Instructions to Authors for Endocrinology says on title requirements: Full title (a concise statement of the article’s major contents)
PNAS has a longer title guide for instance, this paragraph is from an older version of PNAS Information for Authors: Title: Titles should be simple, informative, and comprehensible for a broad scientific audience. Authors should avoid nonstandard abbreviations and colonic phrases. Titles may not be phrased as questions. Titles are limited to three lines or 135 characters including spaces.
And this is from the current, revised as of April, 2007 version: Title: Titles must be limited to three lines or 135 characters, including spaces, and should be comprehensible for a broad scientific audience. Authors should avoid nonstandard abbreviations in titles. using colons, questions, and
I could be wrong in my desire for more apprehensive article titles since these papers are the logical summaries of well-restricted scientific problems and experiments addressing them, written for fellow researchers in the narrow niche.
Well, the niche is okay, but the too narrow could quickly become problematic in the web world of radical transparency.