While perusing the Google Scholar Metrics page, I was struck by how many high-impact journals have one word titles. Nature. Science. The Lancet. Circulation. Blood. I was reminded of the old adage in academia that there is an inverse relationship between the number of words in a journal title, and its impact. Since I wrote recently about journal impacts, I had data available to test just that.
To measure journal impacts, I again used Scopus's SNIP score, or Source-Normalized Impact per Paper, which "is the ratio of a source's average citation count per paper, and the ‘citation potential’ of its subject field. It aims to allow direct comparison of sources in different subject fields." The higher the SNIP score, the higher the impact.
I looked at data for 20,698 journals from the big four publishing countries: USA, UK, Germany, and the Netherlands. The mean title length if 4.3; as you can see below, most have titles between 2-5 words long.
The mean SNIP score is just about 1, with a standard deviation of 1. The max SNIP score is 41, for CA - A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.
I compared SNIP scores with the length of the journal title using linear regression. When viewed altogether, there is no significant relationship between title length and journal impact (p >.1).
However, by analyzing the countries individually, I found that the relationship varies by country. In the United States, Germany, and the Netherlands, there is no significant relationship. However, for journals published in the United Kingdom, there is an inverse relationship between title length and journal impact! On average, the shorter the journal title, the greater the impact.
It looks like the old joke in academia has a grain of truth to it. Shorter journal titles do tend to have a higher impact - but only for those published in the UK!
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