Tuesday, January 18, 2011

How not to title your paper

Albert Einstein's paradigm-shifting paper on special relativity was titled "On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies."

The paper by Max Planck that started the quantum revolution was titled "Entropy and Temperature of Radiant Heat."

Fritz Zwicky's article introducing supernovae and neutron stars to the world was called "On Super-novae."

Now we get stuff like this. Do you think anyone outside of the authors' immediate sphere of interest has a clue what this paper is about?

I'm sorry to say that more and more titles like this appear in physics journals every year. Not all great scientific articles of the past are eloquently and economically titled, but it's doubtful that anyone doing significant work in the early part of the previous century ever bestowed such a monstrous title on their work. Part of the problem is that the e-print service doesn't translate LaTeX code to HTML (I get around that by only using words and numerals in my titles), but even if the math symbols looked how they're supposed to look, that title still wouldn't compel anyone to read your paper. And it makes you the subject of mockery on an obscure gun blog.

4 Comments:

Blogger Russell said...

"Do you think anyone outside of the authors' immediate sphere of interest has a clue what this paper is about?"

No.

And why oh why would you stick LaTeX code in the title!?

1/18/2011 1:08 PM  
Blogger Stickwick Stapers said...

Some folks stick LaTeX code in the title because most journals accept it and do translate it properly. However, since posting to the arXiv e-print service is one of the best ways to promote your work, it's kinda dumb to format a title that looks bad on arXiv.

1/19/2011 10:23 AM  
Blogger Russell said...

"However, since posting to the arXiv e-print service is one of the best ways to promote your work, it's kinda dumb to format a title that looks bad on arXiv."

Precisely. Further data point for MPAI.

1/19/2011 10:31 AM  
Blogger DirtCrashr said...

It's Cornell where they observed Unskilled and Unaware . Maybe it's in the water.

2/03/2011 12:06 PM  

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