Grammatical Constructions In Titles

Soler (2007) examined 570 titles used in articles in the biological and social sciences. Some 480 of these were from research papers, and 90 from reviews. Soler distinguished between:

• full-sentence constructions, for example 'Learning induces a CDC2-related protein kinase';

• nominal group constructions, for example 'Acute liver failure caused by diffuse hepatic melanoma infiltration';

• compound constructions (i.e. divided into two parts, mainly by a colon), for example 'Romanian nominalizations: case and aspectual structure'; and

• question constructions, for example 'Does the Flynn effect affect IQ scores of students classified as learning-disabled?'.

Table 2.1.1 shows the percentage of titles in each construction for the research and the review papers categorised in terms of:

(a) the sciences

(b) the social sciences.

It can be seen that full-sentence constructions only occurred in the science research papers. Nominal group constructions were the most popular form of title, and their usage was relatively constant across the disciplines. Compound constructions were less frequent, but more common in social science research papers. Finally, questions were hardly used at all.

Table 2.1.1 The average percentage occurrence of title formats for research and review papers in articles in (a) medicine, biology and bio-chemistry, and (b) linguistics, psychology and anthropology

Titles in research papers

Titles in review papers

Full-sentence construction

Full-sentence construction

(b) 0

Nominal group construction

Nominal group construction

(b) 55

Compound construction

Compound construction

(b) 33

Question construction

Question construction

(b) 13

Data adapted from Soler (2007), Tables 3-6. Elsevier Ltd.

Reproduced with permission of the author and

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