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Will asking a question get your science paper cited more?

October 16, 2011 Filed under Blog, Featured, Writing 

My friend Jim Steenburgh over at Wasatch Weather Weenies alerted me to this column in the Guardian newspaper.

The column points out something that we scientists may know but forget from time to time: factors other than the quality of the science determine whether and how often our articles get cited by others. Among the factors that scientists have found affect the citation rate:

• whether the article gets covered by the New York Times

• whether the titles of the articles asked a question

• the length of the titles

• “highly amusing” titles

• presence of an acronym or colon (:) in the title

Some of these are positive effects on the number of citations. Some are negative effects on the number of citations. Some depend on the discipline. In any case, how to get your paper cited more frequently is apparently a game that involves more than just good science.

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