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Academics Are Suckers for Clickbait, Too

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Believe it or not, people who write blog posts want you to read their work, and a proven strategy for getting somebody to read something is to give it a snappy title. It seems the same holds true for scholarly papers, at least in the field of psychology.

According to a new paper in the The Winnower, academic papers with titles employing catchier phrasing and positive framing are shared far more widely online compared to those with boring titles. Whether a title is short or long makes little difference—contrary to a 2015 study that found scientific papers with concise titles were much more likely to be cited by colleagues. And including bad puns or other forms of wordplay actually makes a paper less likely to be shared.

“This suggests that academic media is treated similarly to non-academic media by the public in terms of what initially attracts people’s attention,”Gwilym Lockwood, a graduate student at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, writes. In other words, academics are no less immune than the rest of us to the allure of click bait-y titles. And since they, too, want attention for their work, Lockwood argues that perhaps they should rely on those same strategies in turn. – READ MORE

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