3. How Not to Write Academic Paper Titles
As we have seen, the academic paper title is one of those writing conventions that are decidedly frozen structurally but at the same time remain open to innovation and thus have restricted room for maneuver. But what happens when poorly executed titles misrepresent the role of this mightily important part of the academic paper entirely? Such titles don’t offer any details or clues about the contents of the papers, and a gross mischaracterization of the concept of correct academic paper titling invariably leads to disaster: an inability to meet the set expectations readers bring to the reading experience. These expectations revolve around the demand for the academic paper to bring to final form the element(s) hinted at in the title. Faulty academic paper titles present themselves as not bound by the rules of the game, coming across as evidence of critical abuse and also compounding some of the already difficult writing challenges for students. Matters are not helped by the fact that, all too often, titles purporting to be obedient to the norms of academic writing, in literature and composition textbooks published even by major presses, with few exceptions, totally mislead the reader. Rather than provide an accurate guide, what in these mis-titled works are often served up as “model student papers” lead students down the wrong path. What we have is misinformation parading itself in such papers as anything but what it really is rather than anything ← 67 | 68 → that is truly helpful. Just how much...
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