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J Clin Epidemiol. 2017 May;85:32-36. doi: 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2016.11.018. Epub 2016 Dec 27.

Health care articles with simple and declarative titles were more likely to be in the Altmetric Top 100.

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Department of Veterinary Sciences, University of Bologna, Via Tolara di Sopra 50, 40064 Ozzano Emilia, Bologna, Italy; EBMVet, Via Sigismondo Trecchi 20, Cremona 26100, Italy. Electronic address:
Private Practice of Orthodontics, Via Matteo Bandello 15, 20123 Milan, Italy; Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Meibergdreef 9, 1105 AZ Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



The aim of this study was to assess whether specific title characteristics could influence the likelihood of being included in the "Altmetric Top 100."


We conducted a 1:2 matched case-control study with the cases being the health care articles included in the "Altmetric Top 100" lists (2013-2015) matched through a random computerized procedure with two health care articles published in the same journal and year. For each title, we extracted the number of characters in the title, the number of uncommon words, and whether the title was declarative. Conditional logistic regression was used to estimate odds ratio (OR) with 95% confidence intervals adjusted for a prespecified baseline confounder (open access).


One hundred eight "Medical and health sciences" articles were retrieved in the 2013-2015 "Altmetric Top 100" and matched to 216 control articles. Titles of the "Altmetric Top 100" articles were 102.6 characters (±42) long, included 3.4 (±2.0) uncommon words, and 29.6% (32/108) were "declarative." Titles of the matched articles were 109.3 characters (±37.1) long, included 4.7 (±2.4) uncommon words, and 21.8% (47/216) were "declarative." After multivariate adjustment, declarative titles with a lower number of uncommon words were significantly more represented in the Altmetric list, with declarative titles having 2.8 times the odds of being in the top list (OR: 2.8; 95% confidence interval: 1.2, 6.4). For each additional uncommon word in the title, there was a 1.4 increase in the odds of being a non-Altmetric Top 100 article (1.4; 1.2-1.6).


An easy-to-understand, informative title may help bridge the gap between scholar and social media dissemination.


Alternative-level metrics; Communication; Declarative titles; Dissemination; Media bias; Reporting

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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