Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Titular Colonicity

I've blogged about titular colonicity so many times (latest one here but also see here), it feels like an old friend. There's a theory that as an academic field "matures" you see more and more journal titles (hence, titular) with a colon (hence, colonicity). Plus the name is damn funny.

I'd love to do a serious study of mass comm journal titles, but I'm not sure where the heck I'd publish the thing. But as a quick-and-dirty study, I looked at 1960 titles from Journalism Quarterly and then what's been published so far in 2009 (now it's called Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly).

This was not a careful, systematic study, but if we can argue mass comm has "matured" as a field -- and I think we can -- the academic journal titles certainly seem to reflect that -- at least as far my small sample from one journal are concerned.
  • In 1960, I count an almost 3-to-1 ratio in favor of NO colons in titles.
  • In 2009, I count an almost 2-to-1 ratio in favor USING colons in titles.
That's a stunning shift. A more careful study, of course, would include more mass comm journals and more years, looking at the trend data. It'd also be interesting to see if certain kinds of studies were more likely to adopt the colon first (quantitative effects studies versus history, for example). As an aside, I note my own research is slightly more likely to include a colon in the title as not. For what it's worth.

This is clearly a good AEJMC conference paper and possibly, but less likely, journal article. I'm tempted, oh so tempted, to carry through with it. But if someone out there wants to take a stab at it, I claim no ownership. Go for it. Just let me know how it comes out.

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