• Avoiding obscure topics and generalising findings produces higher impact research

      Thelwall, Mike (Springer, 2016-10-11)
      Much academic research is never cited and may be rarely read, indicating wasted effort from the authors, referees and publishers. One reason that an article could be ignored is that its topic is, or appears to be, too obscure to be of wide interest, even if excellent scholarship produced it. This paper reports a word frequency analysis of 874,411 English article titles from 18 different Scopus natural, formal, life and health sciences categories 2009-2015 to assess the likelihood that research on obscure (rarely researched) topics is less cited. In all categories examined, unusual words in article titles associate with below average citation impact research. Thus, researchers considering obscure topics may wish to reconsider, generalise their study, or to choose a title that reflects the wider lessons that can be drawn. Authors should also consider including multiple concepts and purposes within their titles in order to attract a wider audience.