Your dissertation is not going to be a best-selling novel. That probably doesn’t come as a surprise to you, but it leaves us with the question, what is the importance of a dissertation title? Here we cover the basic reasons why a dissertation starts with a proposal, including for the title, and then builds from there. Make no mistake; your dissertation title is important, to you, to your field of study, and in subtle ways, perhaps even to your grade!

Compass point

It may be valuable to think of your title almost as a point on the map that you have lined up with your imaginary compass, the one that will lead you to your destination. Very often the trickiest part of a dissertation is finding a topic that is relevant to your field, and identifying all the key factors that make your hypothesis both logical and relevant. It is an exercise in idea-crafting, and thus, it can be easier than you might think to get a bit lost.

A good title serves as a rallying point, a star to guide you, if you like. That is because once you immerse yourself in a sea of ideas that are all closely related, selecting the precise ones that will support and enhance your particular hypothesis can get tricky. A good title answers the question, “what exactly am I focusing on within this field?” Repeat your title, and it can instantly re-orient you to what is important.

Clarity for the reader

As you yourself may have already noticed in doing your own research, a clear title, one that serves as a concise and precise description, is most likely to get your attention. Imagine that one day, maybe even soon, somebody will be entering a search string and looking for something exactly like what you’ve just written and published (might as well dream big!). As they scroll through their search results, a clear title will make the difference between the research that stands out, and the rest of the ‘background noise’.

Go for precision not poetry

There are times when a title seems almost to suggest itself with some kind of poetic flair. “A Whiter Shade of Pale: hemoglobin and vitamin deficiency in aardvarks”, for example. The poetic part is kind of cute, and it doesn’t interfere with the clarify of the topic. However, the best option you have for what is an academic achievement will always rely on precise language that fits your field.

Consider this: “The positive impact of micro-loans at the village level in central African states”, versus, “Rising tides and community building through loans in Africa”. Now, these could be two alternate titles for the same paper. In the second case, it may sound more poetic and perhaps interesting, but given that the people reading it will be doing so from an academic point of view, the benefit will always lie in being literal and precise in word selection. You may want to talk about community building and the metaphor of ‘rising tides’ within your paper, but the precise title will undoubtedly do more for you in regard to keeping you on track, and informing your reader what exactly the dissertation is about.

Good luck!