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Creative Titles in Scientific Papers

Updated: Apr 25, 2022

Photo credit: Goodreads.

In my post Researcher Name Coincidence, I quoted from the book Academia Obscura by Glen Wright:

As part of a long-running bet, five Swedish scientists have been sneaking Bob Dylan lyrics into paper titles. This is how a paper on intestinal gases acquired the title ‘Nitric oxide and inflammation: The answer is blowing in the wind’. Elsewhere, the Rolling Stones have been immortalized (‘“I can’t get no satisfaction”: The impact of personality and emotion on postpurchase processes’), as have ABBA (‘Money, money, money: not so funny in the research world’) and Nirvana (‘Smells Like Clean Spirit’).

I have been watching out for both researcher name coincidences and creative titles in reference lists. They are admittedly rare, but I came across a few creative paper titles that made me smile:

  • V. M. Baldwin wrote a paper in 2020 titled "You Can't B. cereus - a review of Bacillus cereus strains that cause anthrax-like disease."

  • P. A. Frey and O. T. Magnusson published "S-Adenosylmethionine: A wolf in sheep's clothing, or a rich man's adenosylcobalamin?" in 2003.

  • I. Hamza and H. A. Dailey titled a 2012 paper "One ring to rule them all: trafficking of heme and heme synthesis intermediates in the metazoans."

I'm encouraged by these discoveries. I'll continue to pan for creative gold in reference lists.

Baldwin et al., may your tribe increase!

Update April 25, 2022:

"Ordinals are not as easy as one, two, three: The acquisition of cardinals and ordinals in Dutch" by Caitlin Meyer, Sjef Barbiers & Fred Weerman, Language Acquisition, 25 Jan 2018.


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