Titles of biomedical journal articles have two functions: to identify the main topic or the message of the paper and to attract readers.
CONTENT OF TITLES FOR HYPOTHESIS-TESTING PAPERS
Stating the Topic in the Title
The standard title of a biomedical research paper is a phrase that identifies the topic of the paper. For a hypothesis-testing paper, the topic includes three pieces of information: the independent variable(s) that you manipulated, if any (X), the dependent variable(s) you observed or measured (Y), and the animal or population and the material on which you did the work (Z). The animal studied must always be included in the title, whether or not the animal studied is included in the question and the answer. If necessary, two other pieces of information may also be included in the title: the condition of the animals or subjects during the study and the experimental approach.
Titles for Papers That Have Both Independent and Dependent Variables
For studies that have both independent and dependent variables, the standard form of the title is
Note that in this standard form, the animal, population, or material studied comes at the end of the title.
When humans are studied, they are often omitted from the title, as in Example 11.2, though it is clearest to include "humans" in the title, as in Example 11.22 below.
Effect of Membrane Splitting on Transmembrane Polypeptides
However, when a subpopulation of humans was studied, the subpopulation is always included in the title.
Effects of Esmolol on Airway Function in Patients Who Have Asthma
For the negative implication to work (no population in the title implies that the population is humans), the animal must always be included in the title when the work was done on animals.
Titles for Papers That Have Only Dependent Variables
For hypothesis-testing studies that have only dependent variables, the standard form of the title is
where Y is the dependent variable(s)—that is, the variable(s) observed or measured—and Z is the animal or population and the material on which the work was done. For examples, see the revisions of Examples 11.25 and 11.27 below. Also see Example 11.36 below.
Other Information in the Title
In addition to these essential pieces of information (X, Y, and Z), the title of a hypothesis-testing paper may sometimes include the condition the subjects or the animals were in during the experiments (Example 11.4) or the experimental approach (Example 11.5), if these details are important.