Picture the scene: I’m at a journal club and we are talking about bias. The leader brings up a list (a long one!) of different types of bias from Randomised Controlled Trials: A Users Guide [Alejandro R Jadad]. I spot ‘Flashy Title bias’ amongst the list and the leader brings it back up onto the screen and people laugh. So what is Flashy Title bias? Maybe the title of this blog post is one! This bias refers to papers with attractive titles that interest journalists and the public and therefore have the opposite reaction from academics and healthcare professionals.
But wait – here is a problem. People who want to publish and have their papers discovered by others are advised to have ‘a good title’. So what does that mean? Editage Insights advises that: the title must clearly indicate aboutness, be brief but attractive, include keywords that people would use to find the article in databases, and avoid jargon and uncommon abbreviations. They do mention the ‘book by it’s cover’ bias (aka flashy title bias) but also reiterate attractiveness and persuasiveness. So what to do? It is necessary to have a balance here of informative and attractiveness. Avoid titles that sound like click-bait but don’t settle for boring or plain. This video from Editage Insights gives a good summary of how to come to a good title: