Social Science Essay Titles

The following parameters can be used to help you formulate a suitable research paper title:

  1. The purpose of the research
  2. The scope of the research
  3. The narrative tone of the paper [typically defined by the type of the research]
  4. The methods used to study the problem

The initial aim of a title is to capture the reader’s attention and to highlight the research problem under investigation.

Create a Working Title

Typically, the final title you submit to your professor is created after the research is complete so that the title accurately captures what has been done. The working title should be developed early in the research process because it can help anchor the focus of the study in much the same way the research problem does. Referring back to the working title can help you reorient yourself back to the main purpose of the study if you find yourself drifting off on a tangent while writing.

The Final Title

Effective titles in academic research papers have several characteristics that reflect general principles.

  • Indicate accurately the subject and scope of the study,
  • Rarely use abbreviations or acronyms unless they are commonly known,
  • Use words that create a positive impression and stimulate reader interest,
  • Use current nomenclature from the field of study,
  • Identify key variables, both dependent and independent,
  • Reveal how the paper will be organized,
  • Suggest a relationship between variables which supports the major hypothesis,
  • Is limited to 5 to 15 substantive words,
  • Does not include redundant phrasing, such as, "A Study of," "An Analysis of" or similar constructions,
  • Takes the form of a question or declarative statement,
  • If you use a quote as part of the title, the source of the quote is cited [usually using an asterisk and footnote],
  • Use correct grammar and capitalization with all first words and last words capitalized, including the first word of a subtitle. All nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs that appear between the first and last words of the title are also capitalized, and
  • Rarely uses an exclamation mark at the end of the title.

The Subtitle

Subtitles are frequently used in social science research papers. Examples of why you may include a subtitle:

1.  Explains or provides additional context, e.g., "Linguistic Ethnography and the Study of Welfare Institutions as a Flow of Social Practices: The Case of Residential Child Care Institutions as Paradoxical Institutions." [Palomares, Manuel and David Poveda. Text & Talk: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Language, Discourse and Communication Studies 30 (January 2010): 193-212]

2.  Adds substance to a literary, provocative, or imaginative title or quote, e.g., "Listen to What I Say, Not How I Vote": Congressional Support for the President in Washington and at Home." [Grose, Christian R. and Keesha M. Middlemass. Social Science Quarterly 91 (March 2010): 143-167]

3.  Qualifies the geographic scope of the research, e.g., "The Geopolitics of the Eastern Border of the European Union: The Case of Romania-Moldova-Ukraine." [Marcu, Silvia. Geopolitics 14 (August 2009): 409-432]

4.  Qualifies the temporal scope of the research, e.g., "A Comparison of the Progressive Era and the Depression Years: Societal Influences on Predictions of the Future of the Library, 1895-1940." [Grossman, Hal B. Libraries & the Cultural Record 46 (2011): 102-128]

5.  Focuses on investigating the ideas, theories, or work of a particular individual, e.g., "A Deliberative Conception of Politics: How Francesco Saverio Merlino Related Anarchy and Democracy." [ La Torre, Massimo. Sociologia del Diritto 28 (January 2001): 75 - 98]

6.  Identifies the methodology used, e.g. "Student Activism of the 1960s Revisited: A Multivariate Analysis Research Note." [Aron, William S. Social Forces 52 (March 1974): 408-414]


Anstey, A. “Writing Style: What's in a Title?” British Journal of Dermatology 170 (May 2014): 1003-1004; Balch, Tucker. How to Compose a Title for Your Research Paper. Augmented Trader blog. School of Interactive Computing, Georgia Tech University; Choosing the Proper Research Paper Titles. AplusReports.com, 2007-2012; Eva, Kevin W. “Titles, Abstracts, and Authors.” In How to Write a Paper. George M. Hall, editor. 5th edition. (Oxford: John Wiley and Sons, 2013), pp. 33-41; Hartley James. “To Attract or to Inform: What are Titles for?” Journal of Technical Writing and Communication 35 (2005): 203-213; General Format. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Kerkut G.A. “Choosing a Title for a Paper.” Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A: Physiology 74 (1983): 1; “Tempting Titles.” In Stylish Academic Writing. Helen Sword, editor. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012), pp. 63-75.

Social science topics for essays: write on current issues


Social Sciences may seem a bit unreliable to practitioners of the natural sciences but every field has had paradigm shifts where new knowledge replaces old beliefs. As current situations unfold, there's much to be studied and incorporated into the body of knowledge in the various social science fields. Here are some essay topics that deal with this.

Political Science: How intervention in Middle East Politics led to the Creation of ISIS

This is a very controversial topic. Many people may even argue that it is unfair to say so because the current situation might have occurred for other reasons anyway. Regardless, there is a wealth of information that can help support points that this essay requires.

Sociology: The societal impact of Gaming Culture on Learning

Gaming makes learning easier by activating some of the same triggers in your brain as chocolate, lovemaking or drugs. This makes it easier to absorb large amounts of information fairly quickly. How will the ease of learning affect society particularly when one considers that vulnerable communities continue to be left out of these advances and therefore fall even further behind relatively.

Gender Studies: The New Masculinities Worldwide

How many different versions of masculinity can you observe and describe and what makes them different from the old, singular vision of masculinity?

Psychology: How Internet connectivity is Changing the way we Think

Human beings evolved in circumstances where they were surrounded by others at all times and needed to move about almost continuously to meet their caloric needs. Now, the developed world has access to computer technology and smart phones that enable purchases and work from a distance. People no longer need to see each other to interact. How does this affect our minds?

Management: How to Motivate a Workforce that you never see face-to-face

Where managers operate in office and are in charge of staff they have never met, motivation can be a challenging. The trick here is to recognise that staff who work remotely need to be self motivated. If they decide to work less than they are supposed to, it is near impossible to stop them from afar.

Human Resources: Finding the right people in a sea of resume hype

The internet is teeming with resources to help potential staffers seem better than they truly are. How do you cut through the exaggerations, the false experience and or qualifications and find the best fit for your company?

Any of the above can be the start of a well written social science essay.

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