Saturday, May 25, 2013

What's in a Title?

I'm not one of those people who go in for "cute" titles for my research papers. Some people obviously do. However, they probably spend way too much of their valuable time conjuring up snappy titles in the hope that they'll come up with something that will attract people's attention.

Ultimately, it's the content of the paper that's going to matter - at least, I like to think that's true! So, most of my published papers have titles that describe what the research is about - but those titles aren't going to win any awards for creativity. I mean, really, titles such as:


  • A saddlepoint approximation to the distribution function of the Anderson-Darling test statistic.
  • Exact asymptotic goodness-of-fit testing for discrete circular data, with applications.
  • Bias reduction for the maximum likelihood estimator of the parameters in the half-logistic distribution.


  • Do you see what I mean? (Assuming you're still awake, that is.)

    Occasionally - very occasionally - a more interesting title pops into my mind while I'm working on the paper. It's honestly not something that I think about consciously - it just strikes as a fun title to use. More likely than not, it's just a reflection of my somewhat warped sense of humour!

    For example, around the time when the term "irrational exuberance" was being bandied around by Alan Greenspan and others, Kaili Shen and I wrote a paper with the title "Rational Exuberance at the Mall". The title made some sense (I think) as the paper was an empirical piece that tested the "rational addiction" hypothesis in the context of credit card use in New Zealand. The results favoured that hypothesis. 

    When the paper was accepted for publication, the editor of the journal mentioned in his email that the title of the paper had caught his eye from the outset. I guess that didn't hurt, in this instance.

    Another title that came out of nowhere was "Survival of the Hippest". This was for one of a series of papers I wrote that analyzed data for the number one hits on the Billboard Hot 100 popular music chart. This particular paper reported on a survival analysis of the length of time that such hits stayed at the top of the charts, and the factors that helped to determine their success.

    I was reminded of this work yesterday when I received an automated email notification from Google Scholar that this paper had been cited again - this time in a really nice Masters thesis by William Matsuoka of the Department of Economics at the California State University, Sacramento.

    The title that William chose for his thesis is certainly an eye-catcher: "Parental Advisory: Analyzing the Effect of the Mature Content Label on the Music Industry". His empirical research involves some innovative data gathering, and some careful differences-in-differences modelling and survival analysis. As I said, it's a really nice thesis. Great job, William, and thanks for the citation!


    References

    Giles, D. E., 2001. A saddlepoint approximation to the distribution function of the Anderson-Darling test statistic. Communications in Statistics: Simulation and Computation, 30, 899-905.

    Giles, D. E., 2006. Superstardom in the U.S. popular music industry revisited. Economics Letters, 92, 68-74. 

    Giles, D. E., 2007. Increasing returns to information in the U.S. popular music industry. Applied Economics Letters, 14, 327-331. 

    Giles, D. E., 2007. Survival of the hippest: Life at the top of the Hot 100. Applied Economics, 39, 1877-1887. 

    Giles, D. E., 2013. Exact asymptotic goodness-of-fit testing for discrete circular data, with applications. Chilean Journal of Statistics, 4, 19-34.

    Giles, D. E., 2012. bias reduction for the maximum likelihood estimator of the parameters in the half-logistic  distribution. Communications in Statistics – Theory & Methods, 41, 212-222.

    Matsuoka, W. M., 2013. Parental advisory: Analyzing the effect of the mature content label on the music industry. M. A. Thesis, Department of Economics, California State University, Sacramento.

    Shen, K. and D. E. Giles, 2006. Rational exuberance at the mall: Addiction to carrying a credit card  balance. Applied Economics, 38, 587-592. 


    © 2013, David E. Giles

    3 comments:

    1. My favourite "humourous" title for a paper is "Pigs in Space: Modeling the Spatial Structure of Hog Production in Traditional and Nontraditional Production Regions". Too bad the authors didn't stop at the colon...

      For those who didn't see the sketches, details are provided at http://muppet.wikia.com/wiki/Pigs_in_Space

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    2. Dave,
      if you keep on writing I will keep on publicising you on Friday!!

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      Replies
      1. Sounds good to me - as long as you alter the header to "US & Canada", instead of "US (including Canada)". :-) Unless you also want "Australia (including NZ)".

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