The title page is the first page of your article, and therefore it is important to have a well-formatted title page that clearly represents your paper. This page should include all the information necessary for a reader to identify the contents of the article, its author(s), origin of the article, and the article type.
Although it is the first page of the manuscript, this section is usually written right at the end.
The title page contains all or a combination of the following elements.
Always (Part 1 – discussed in this post)
- Article title
- Author names
- Author affiliations
- Corresponding author information
Optional depending on Journal Guidelines (Part 2 – discussed in next post)
- Headers – Running title, First Author name
- Footnotes – Grant support, Conflict of Interest (Declaration of commercial interest), Authorship, Statement of author death
- List of Abbreviations
- Miscellaneous (Word count, article type)
You will find exactly what to include in the title page in the Instructions to Authors section of a journal’s homepage. For example, according to the guidelines of American Journal of Botany, the following need to be included: Title, Author names, Author affiliations (See http://www.amjbot.org/misc/ifora.shtml#title)
The title is a major determinant of whether the manuscript will be read. It should draw the reader’s attention and interest and make them want to continue reading. Usually, it is the only aspect of the article that appears in tables of content and in many of the databases used for literature searches.
The title should accurately, completely, and specifically indicate the focus of the paper, and should contain relevant “keywords.” The best way to structure you title is to look at your hypothesis and experimental variables.
Structure: The Effects of [Independent Variable] on [Dependent Variable]
Example: Effect of cystatin C on NK and bactericidal activity
Titles can be of two types:
- Descriptive (e.g., The effect of AB antibody on CD virus) stating the main focus of the study
- Conclusive (e.g., AB antibody inhibits CD virus) stating the main conclusion of the study.
Titles should be preferably written as a phrase, but if necessary, it may be a declarative sentence or a question.
In some cases, a journal’s Instructions to Authors will specify which style of title to use (e.g., descriptive or conclusive). The journal usually specifies the length (word/character count) and format of the titles (Title case, middle aligned, etc.) as well.
List of Don’ts
- Avoid using dashes or periods to separate parts of a title.
- Avoid using abbreviations in titles, since the non-standard abbreviations might be confusing to the readers not familiar to the subject.
- If a drug name is mentioned in the title, the generic name should be used unless several proprietary versions of the drug are being compared or the article is commenting on a specific proprietary version of the drug.
- Omit nonspecific openings such as “Studies of…”
- Omit ambiguous terms such as “with.” This can be replaced with specific terms such as “induced by” or “-mediated”
e.g., Pulmonary changes in rats with bleomycin
an be revised to
“Pulmonary changes induced by bleomycin” or “Bleomycin-mediated pulmonary changes in rats”
- Avoid making the titles unnecessarily lengthy. Keep it concise.
“Report on a case of specific developmental delay in an autistic child”
can be written as
“Specific Developmental Delay in Autism: A case report”
Author Names and Corresponding Author Information
The order in which the authors are listed can be variable.
- Often the order of the authors denotes their contribution to the study, i.e., the first author has made the largest contribution, and the remaining authors are listed in descending order of their contribution to the study.
- Sometimes the senior author (responsible for overseeing the entire project— study and manuscript preparation) is listed last.
- Another style, which is no longer very common, is to list the authors alphabetically.
In case of Japanese author names, some journals specify guidelines for formatting of author names (e.g., a comma should be placed between the author’s surname and personal name).
The purpose of providing author affiliations is to indicate the institution(s) where the research was performed, and to provide readers with a way of contacting the authors.
There are two main ways to list affiliations. Please follow the one in sample papers of the target journal:
- List each author name with his/her affiliation below the author name
- List all authors in one line. Then list the main addresses of all the authors below the author names. Affiliations corresponding to the author names are denoted using superscript numbers/letters.
Cases in which superscripts need not be used to indicate correspondence
- Single author papers
- When all the authors are from the same affiliation
However, this depends on the journal guidelines as well.
For any authors who have moved to a different institution between the time that the research was performed and the manuscript is published can also provide a current address. Note that if an author has moved since completing the research, it is inappropriate to list their current address as the main address.
Avoid abbreviating the name of institutions/organizations. That is, always provide a complete address. For example,
Avoid: Dept. of Biotech., NUO
Use: Department of Biotechnology, National University of Osaka
Corresponding Author Information
One author is always chosen as the “Corresponding Author.” All correspondences from the journal will be directed to the corresponding author, who is then responsible for keeping the other authors updated with regard to the status of the manuscript.
The corresponding author’s address is usually listed as a footnote to the list of authors. Along with the complete postal address, many journals require authors to include the phone number, a fax number, and email addresses.
In our next post, we discuss in detail the elements whose inclusion is subject to the journal guidelines.