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A diachronic comparative study of research article titles in linguistics and literature journals


  • Xuechun Xiang

    (Huazhong University of Science and Technology)

  • Jing Li

    () (Huazhong University of Science and Technology)


By investigating a total number of 1364 article titles extracted from seven SSCI-indexed linguistics journals and seven A&HCI-indexed literature journals between 1980 and 2018, this study attempts to present the prominent form features and content attributes of the titles and their diachronic variations, as well as the similarities or differences between the two disciplines regarding title features. Results show that article titles in both subject domains demonstrate consistency in the long-range trend of title length and informativity, enjoying a steady and linear growth in length and an increase with fluctuations in informativity. Nominal and compound structures are both frequently adopted in linguistics and literature journals, but the proportion of compound constructions has always been higher than that of nominal ones in literature journals over the past 39 years. Titles containing topical information enjoy the highest percentage from the 1980s to the 2010s in both linguistics and literature journals. However, in the recent decade, content information provided by linguistic article titles tends to be more diversified, presenting not only research topics, but also results, dataset and methods of the study. No significant variations between the two disciplines have been found in lexical diversity, both of which experienced an overall downward trend.

Suggested Citation

  • Xuechun Xiang & Jing Li, 2020. "A diachronic comparative study of research article titles in linguistics and literature journals," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 122(2), pages 847-866, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:scient:v:122:y:2020:i:2:d:10.1007_s11192-019-03329-z
    DOI: 10.1007/s11192-019-03329-z

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Titles; Diachronic approach; Linguistics; Literature;


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