The impact of title length and punctuation marks on article citations

Falahati Qadimi Fumani, Mohammad Reza ; Goltaji, Marzieh ; Parto, Pardis


In literature, a number of factors have been reported as affecting citations to articles. This paper is intended to find out if the number of citations made to an article was associated with title length and number of punctuation marks in titles. The article also attempts to determine the most/least frequently used punctuation marks in article titles, and to study titling features in top-30 articles in the dataset examined. To extract the data, ISI Web of Science was searched using the fields, source ‘SO = Scientometrics’ and publishing year ‘PY = 2009-2011’. In all, 650 article titles constituted the sample data of the study. To determine title length in words and in characters (with no spaces), the ‘word count’ option – ‘statistics’ – in Microsoft Word was used. The types and number of punctuation marks were extracted using the ‘find and replace’ option in Microsoft Word. Data analysis revealed that the two variables title length and citations to articles were not correlated; the number of punctuation marks could not be used as a variable to predict an article’s citation rate with certainty; ‘colon’, ‘hyphen’ and ‘coma’ were most frequent while ‘semi-colon’, ‘dash’ and ‘single quotation marks’ were least frequent punctuation marks; out of the 30 top titles, 23 included at least one punctuation mark; from the top-10 titles, 9 titles encompassed a punctuation mark and the article receiving the highest amount of citations along with 5 more articles had a question mark in their titles. The average title length in characters with no spaces was 73 in the top-30 titles.


Citation analysis; Title length; Punctuation marks; Text analysis; Scientometrics; Citations

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