Titles of journal articles come in a variety of formats. The most common formats are:
- Declarative titles: Stating the main findings or conclusions (eg, “A Three-Month Weight Loss Program Increases Self-Esteem in Adolescent Girls”) - discouraged by JMIR because the findings of a study are rarely clear-cut.
- Descriptive titles: Describe the subject of the article but do not reveal the main conclusions (eg, “The Effects of Family Support on Patients With Dementia”) <--- preferred JMIR style for original articles and protocols (if combined with a description of the method after a colon, see below).
- Interrogative titles: Introduce the subject in the form of a question (eg, “Does Cognitive Training Improve Performance on Pattern Recognition Tasks?”) - discouraged for original articles, but sometimes used for opinion/viewpoint pieces (see What are the article types for JMIR journals?).
To enhance discoverability and citability and to prevent readers from drawing wrong conclusions from poorly written titles, JMIR insists on a specific format for its' articles and editors/copyeditors/proofreaders may change the suggested title according to the following guidelines.
General JMIR guidelines for article titles
1. JMIR is trying to introduce a more consistent format of titles, following roughly an "Issue or Intervention in Demographic/Disease/Condition: Method/Study Design" format. An example is "Usability of Wearable Devices for Patients with Heart Failure: Observational Study." The method part (ie, the study design) should describe how something was done and/or what was done.
- In particular, for RCTs, the title format should be "Intervention in Condition/for Target Group: Randomized Controlled Trial" (title format as per CONSORT-EHEALTH for Randomized Controlled Trials); for systematic reviews, it is "Intervention in Condition/for Target Group: Systematic Review" (identify the report as a systematic review, meta-analysis, or both, as per PRISMA, see Where to find PRISMA, SPIRIT and other reporting guidelines). Slight deviations in the first title part are permissible, but the method part must be consistent
- Special remark on "Systematic Reviews": This title implies a specific type of paper where authors conducted a rigorous literature review of a specific topic, as per PRISMA statement. Please do not use this title for other kinds of papers. In particular, a systematic search and review of apps on app stores, or systematic assessment of websites should not be called a "Systematic Review". JMIR prefers other titles such as "Systematic Search on App Stores and Content Analysis" for a search/review of apps, etc. See E-Collection Reviews of Multiple Existing Apps for further title examples
- "Feasibility study" or "Pilot study" does not sufficiently characterize a study design, it characterizes the purpose/objective of the study. A study design is for example cohort study, questionnaire study, qualitative focus group study, randomized controlled trial etc. (see below), which can be enhanced with further qualifiers, e.g. "Feasibility Randomized Controlled Trial" or "Pilot Questionnaire Study".
- Other "method/study design" qualifiers which have been used include:
- Qualitative Study
- Focus Group Study
- Content Analysis
- Cross-Sectional Questionnaire Study
- Longitudinal Observational Study
- Cohort Study, etc
- As outlined above, descriptors like "pilot study" or "feasibility study" alone are discouraged as they don't reveal how something was done.
- Titles like “Randomized Controlled Trial of a X in D.” or “Evaluation of a …”, will be reorganized to the format above ("X in D: Randomized Controlled Trial").
- Protocols and proposals (published primarily in JMIR Research Protocols) MUST mention “Protocol” or “Proposal” in the title, respectively (eg, "Issue or Intervention in Demographic/Disease/Condition: Protocol for a Randomized Controlled Trial”); see SPIRIT statement (Where to find PRISMA, SPIRIT and other reporting guidelines). Even if the article is published in JMIR Research Protocols, do not assume it is evident from the journal title that the article describes a protocol, because this journal also publishes original articles such as formative work.
- Questions in titles should be avoided (eg, "Is a Web-Based Intervention More Effective Than...?")
- Titles should be concise, specific, informative, and should contain the key points of the work. However, too much detail should be avoided (you don’t need to mention all inclusion criteria in the title). Omit redundancies, such as “Study Protocol of a…”, and fluff, such as “Role of,” Effects of,” “Treatment of,” “Use of,” and “Report of a Case of”.
- Declarative titles (ie, a statement of the result/conclusion) should usually be avoided in titles (eg, "XY Web-Based Intervention is More Effective Than..."). Questions can be used in exceptional cases where the result is really clear-cut (eg, "A Web-Based Intervention is More Effective Than...")
- A country or geographic location ("...in Japan...") should only be used in the title if it is essential for the article topic and if different results can be expected in other countries/geographic regions. Otherwise it is sufficient to mention the location of the study in the abstract (or only the methods section of the paper). However, if the study has been conducted in unusual locations/settings (ie, developing countries; low and middle-income countries), then the country should be mentioned.
- The indefinite article after the colon in front of the method is mostly not required (eg, instead of "First Part of the Title: A Randomized Controlled Trial" simply use "First Part of the Title: Randomized Controlled Trial").
- Ensure the title is in title case (see section below on capitalization).
- Absolutely no acronyms in titles except for well-known acronyms like "HIV/AIDS" and acronyms for the name of a study or an app. Acronyms of study names are permissible if it is not too long. They should appear in brackets if deemed necessary/useful
- Please do not use more than one colon in the title. A title like "A Text Message Delivered Smoking Cessation Intervention: The Initial Trial of TXT-2-Quit: Randomized Controlled Trial" is not acceptable. In this case, the title should have been changed to either of the following:
The Initial Trial of a Text Message Delivered Smoking Cessation Intervention (TXT-2-Quit):
Randomized Controlled Trial
A Text Message Delivered Smoking Cessation Intervention (TXT-2-Quit): Pilot
Randomized Controlled Trial
- Do not assume that readers know your application or website by its' brandname. A title like "Randomized Evaluation of the Autobot" or "First results from the ABCD Trial" is incomprehensible to most readers. Replace brand names and acronyms with a descriptive phrase that is understandable by everybody, e.g. "A Robot for Autistic Children (Autobot): Randomized Controlled Trial" is much more meaningful to readers than the brand name or acronym of the intervention, no matter how much authors are in love with the name or want to promote it.
- JMIR Publications tweets each title and shares it on multiple social media accounts, so keep the title short to fit into a tweet, and make the reader want to read the paper (this is another reason for why we want the methods/design part at the end of the title - if the title is cut off it should still invite readers to click on the title. A truncated title like "Evaluation and pilot evaluation of a ...." is less enticing than "A Robot for Elderly Care: ...:").
- If you change the title, edit the title in the manuscript management system (How do I edit/correct/enter article metadata before publication?) as well as in the manuscript file if in peer-review or copyediting.