About This Journal
Teaching and Supervision in Counseling (TSC) is the official journal of the Southern Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (SACES), a region of the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (ACES). On this page, you will find tips for writing manuscripts for TSC.
- Tips for Constructing Journal Article Titles
Tips for Constructing Journal Article Titles
•Article titles are the most commonly read piece of a journal article.
•Researchers are mixed on whether longer or shorter article titles increase likelihood of higher downloads or citations. TSC requires titles be no longer than 20 words.
•TSC requires that empirical manuscript titles adhere to APA Journal Article Reporting Standards (JARS). Conceptual manuscript titles should identify key issues, topics, and populations under consideration.
•Some researchers have found that descriptive and declarative title formats may be associated with higher number of article citations. TSC requires manuscript titles be written in one of these two formats.
Did you know that the most commonly read piece of an article is the title? Article titles are what pop up in search results, whether you are using a search engine (e.g., Google), a database search (e.g., APA PsycINFO), or a specific journal search. In journals that are not open access, often readers can only see an article’s title, abstract, and author information before hitting a pay wall. Many individuals will scan article titles and make a judgment whether they want to read the article. If you have ever searched for articles yourself, you probably used key words or phrases to place parameters around what information you were looking for, and article titles that contained your key words or phrases likely caught your attention first. It is helpful to think of your article’s title as a sales pitch to potential readers: “Here is what my article is about and here is why you should read it.”
At TSC, we are an open access, peer-reviewed journal, so published articles are available freely to the public. With easy access to published work, we want authors’ scholarly contributions to be downloaded, read, and cited. TSC has specific requirements around article titles because we want people to find, read, replicate, and cite your work. This tip sheet is designed to help you construct a title for your manuscript consistent with TSC’s formatting requirements.
Strong article titles are concise, specific, and informative. Notice that we did not use the words “short” or “brief.” TSC limits title length to a maximum of 20 words. Traditionally, the notion has been “less is more” when it comes to article title length. However, researchers have found mixed results when it comes to article title length and the likelihood of an article being read or cited. Researchers in several studies have found no significant differences between article title length and the number of citations an article receives (Braticevic et al., 2020; Jamali & Nikzad, 2011). Habibzadeh and Yadollahie (2010) found that articles with longer titles were actually more likely to be cited, an effect that was more likely as a journal’s impact factor increased. On the other hand, Jamali & Nikzad (2011) found that articles with longer titles were less likely to be downloaded (i.e., read), and Paiva et al. (2012) found that articles with shorter titles were more likely to be cited. These conflicting findings are by no means exhaustive, and more importantly, none of these studies were conducted on journal articles in counseling, counselor education, or related mental health or education professions. Although findings on article title length are mixed, what is clearer is that the content and format of an article title likely do matter.
What should you actually include as part of the title? For empirical manuscripts, TSC requires that titles adhere to the Journal Article Reporting Standards (JARS) from the American Psychological Association (APA, 2018). There are specific reporting guidelines for quantitative, qualitative, meta-analytic, and mixed method studies, so your title’s content may differ slightly based on the type of study you have conducted. Generally, empirical article titles identify variables (quantitative) or key issues/topics (qualitative), as well as the population studied. Mixed method and meta-analytic studies include mention of the methods used in the study. We recommend that you consult specific JARS for the study you have conducted to identify the best content for your manuscript’s title. At the end of this tip sheet, we link to the specific JARS.
There are no published guidelines for conceptual manuscripts, but TSC requires that these titles follow a similar pattern to empirical manuscript titles by identifying key issues, topics, and populations under consideration.
Now that you have the “what” for your title, we turn to formatting the title. Article titles typically follow one of three broad formats: declarative, descriptive, or interrogative (Jamali & Nikzad, 2011). Researchers have found that articles with descriptive or declarative titles may be more likely to be cited (Braticevic et al., 2020; Jamali & Nikzad, 2011). Thus, at TSC, we ask that your article’s title be in a descriptive or declarative format and not in the form of a question. Below, we define each format and provide a few examples. Note that the examples also contain content that aligns with the APA JARS.
1. Descriptive: Describes what the article is about without revealing the results or findings (if empirical). A descriptive title summarizes main points, variables/issues/topics, and may highlight elements of methodology. Because your title’s content would be guided by the JARS and/or TSC’s formatting requirements, think of a descriptive title as a concise summary of the content you are trying to convey.
Empirical (quantitative - correlational): Examining Correlations between Self-Efficacy and Skills Use in Counseling Supervisees
Empirical (quantitative – quasi-experimental): A Quasi-Experimental Study of Feedback and Self-Efficacy with Counseling Supervisees
Empirical (qualitative): Supervisees’ Lived Experience of Receiving Feedback in Cross-Cultural Supervisory Dyads
Conceptual: Using the Discrimination Model in School Counseling Peer Supervision
2. Declarative: This format goes one step beyond descriptive and not only describes what the article is about, but also includes the main findings or conclusions (if empirical) in the title. Because declarative titles state findings derived from a research study, conceptual articles may not fit well in a declarative format and may best be written descriptively so as not to confuse readers.
Empirical (quantitative - correlational): Self-Efficacy Correlated with Skills Use among Counseling Supervisees
Empirical (quantitative – quasi-experimental): Providing Feedback in Supervision can Increase Self-Efficacy for Counseling Interns
Empirical (qualitative): Supervisees in Cross-Cultural Supervisory Dyads Report Strengths and Challenges in Receiving Feedback
Lest this tip sheet sound too specific or formulaic, strong article titles are also meant to draw in the reader and differentiate your work from previous literature. TSC’s formatting guidelines set some structure in place based on professional standards and efforts to boost your article’s visibility, but you have the flexibility and choice within those limits to draft your article’s “sales pitch” and figure out how best to draw in potential readers. Happy writing!
American Psychological Association. (2018). Journal article reporting standards. Author. Retrieved from https://apastyle.apa.org/jars.
Braticevic, M. N., Babic, I., Abramovic, I., Jokic, A., & Horvat, M. (2020). Title does matter: A cross-sectional study of 30 journals in the Medical Laboratory Technology category. Biochemia Medica, 30(1), 1-6. https://doi.org/10.11613/BM.2020.010708
Habibzadeh, F., & Yadollahie, M. (2010). Are shorter article titles more attractive for citations? Cross-sectional study of 22 scientific journals. Croatian Medical Journal, 51(2), 165-170. https://doi.org/10.3325/cmj.2010.51.165
Jamali, H.R., Nikzad, M. (2011). Article title type and its relation with the number of downloads and citations. Scientometrics, 88, 653-661. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11192-011-0412-z
Paiva, C. E., Lima, J. P., & Paiva, B. S. (2012). Articles with short titles describing the results are cited more often. Clinics, 67(5), 509-513. https://doi.org/10.6061/clinics/2012(05)17
APA Journal Article Reporting Standards
Quantitative Research Designs: https://apastyle.apa.org/jars/quantitative
Qualitative Research Designs: https://apastyle.apa.org/jars/qualitative
Mixed Methods Research Designs: https://apastyle.apa.org/jars/mixed-methods