Dual function of first position nominal groups in research article titles: Describing methods and structuring summary

Document Type: Research Article


Shih Hsin University, Taiwan


Previous research has identified the nominal group as the most distinctive feature of the research article title. In contrast, the findings reported in this paper suggest Theme/Rheme is the dominant structure in title text. Theme/Rheme structures order and tie nominal groups in titles. When a title starts with a methodological term the first position nominal group acts as a theme marker. Thus, the following nominal groups yield coherence and generate summarization. This finding is based on an analysis of 347 research article titles randomly selected from 99 SSCI journals in linguistics. Focusing on titles with a research construct in first position, and using the most frequently found term, effect, as the basis for comparison, this article presents an analysis of how titles summarize content. The combination of nominal groups, Theme/Rheme, and coherence summarizes the content of the research article more effectively compared to titles that rely solely on the information packaging function of high-density nominalization.