2703: Paper Title
Title text: CONFLICT OF INTEREST STATEMENT: The authors hope these results are correct because we all want to be cool people who are good at science.
Many if not most scientific research papers present a hypothesis and the result of testing the hypothesis. It is a common misconception that only that kind of research should be considered "science", but it is one of the key elements of the scientific method. Scientific papers should also have titles which describe the content of the papers, which may or may not reflect the full hypothesis in some abbreviated form. See also 2456: Types of Scientific Paper.
Cueball is writing a research paper with a clickbait, puffery and insufficiently descriptive title of "Check out this cool microbe we found." His colleague Megan asks him whether science is supposed to be about formulating a hypothesis and testing it. Cueball agrees, changing the title to "Is our lab really good at finding cool microbes? Some preliminary data." However, that is still an overly promotional and insufficiently descriptive clickbait title, purporting to be a study of the authors' own competence, which would be highly unusual because of the lack of objectivity due to the authors being the subject of investigation. Clickbait is a recurring theme on xkcd, recently considered within science publications in 2001: Clickbait-Corrected p-Value. The title of a research article describing a novel organism will often contain the author(s) proposed Linnaean name for it, which is granted as their prerogative within certain limitations.
Empirical investigations and analysis papers almost always state and test a hypothesis, but there are many kinds of scientific papers which usually do not, including literature reviews, which qualitatively summarize the results of other papers; meta-analyses, which quantitatively summarize the results and quality of other work; observational reports (or case studies — not to be confused with observational studies, a kind of empirical analysis), which present data and a chronicle of its collection often without analysis, testing, or interpretation; conference papers, which present preliminary work without peer review; definition papers, which attempt to formalize terms used in divergent ways in prior work; syntheses, which present alternative views combining multiple and often conflicting concepts; comparative studies, which compare and contrast a class of concepts; interpretive papers, showing a different perspective on previous work; technical reports, which may present information on a specific procedural topic or progress and results, if any, in a field; opinion and editorial essays, which are intended to argue a point of view persuasively; book reviews, which summarize monographs or biographies; and grant proposals, which make the case for funding a project. Mathematical or logic research papers which don't involve empirical observations or uncertainty would be considered technical reports in other fields. Engineering work can be reported as an empirical investigation or a technical report. Empirical research articles which do present and test a hypothesis are usually written in American Psychological Association (APA) style.
Cueball seems to want to author an observational report, but Megan would prefer an empirical investigation or analysis, perhaps because they may be more likely to be accepted by peer reviewed journals, and as such are more prestigious than mere conference papers, "letters" or "communications" as observational reports are often published. However, research articles describing the discovery of new microbes in prestigious peer-reviewed journals are often published as observational reports, so Megan's concerns may be unfounded; even if so, the editors of any reputable journal would almost certainly require a far more descriptive and less overtly promotional title from Cueball. The question remains whether an initial submission with a catchy clickbait title might get more prompt attention from editors and reviewers.
In the title text, a conflict of interest statement says that the authors hope their results are correct because "we all want to be cool people who are good at science." A scientific publication's potential conflict of interest usually refers to the authors' financial, familial, or other external interests in the research outcomes. The disclosure statement does not describe a conflict between the authors' extrinsic motivations and factors influencing the accuracy and neutrality of their work; in fact it claims the opposite, an alignment between their intrinsic motivations and the goal of producing high quality work, which should go without saying.
- [Megan is standing behind and looking over the shoulder of Cueball who is sitting in his office chair at his desk typing on the keyboard. A line from the keyboard goes up to text boxes above them, showing a paper title followed by a cursor:]
- Paper title:
- Check out this cool microbe we found|
- [Pan to only showing Megan who has taken a hand up to her chin. Cueball replies from off-panel.]
- Megan: Isn’t science supposed to be about formulating a hypothesis and then testing it?
- Cueball - off panel: Oh. Yeah, I guess.
- [Same setting as in the first panel, but now the title has changed:]
- Paper title:
- Is our lab really good at finding cool microbes? Some preliminary data|
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