I'm about to submit an article to a journal for review. There is a published book (about 5 years old) that has the same title as my working paper. As you might guess, the paper and book are in the same subfield of study. The shared title is cute variation on the name of a prominent organization (which honestly fits my paper better than the book).

Do I need to change the title of my paper? Another thing to consider is that the author of the book is a likely candidate to be selected as a reviewer for the article.

  • 14
    Change it. It's not like there is a shortage of possible titles. Apr 15 '15 at 19:00
  • 1
    I've already seen an author having a journal article and a book with the same title. Searching for the book online proved completely impossible.
    – user9646
    Apr 16 '15 at 9:02
  • 1
    At the very least, vary it slightly so people can search for your article and find it without getting confused by hundreds of unrelated hits for the book. Even if it's just adding "revisited" or something to the end of the title. Apr 16 '15 at 9:55
  • I think it depends also on the title. If your title is a very general one, a typical example could be "Environmental Economics and Individual Preferences." This title is so general but if you have something "The differences in modeling the CO2 abatement costs in a Ramsey Growth Model", then, it is too specified and it is better to change it. Sep 3 '18 at 14:25

I'll be perfectly honest - if I was in that subfield, I would be extremely annoyed in having two works with the same title - simple search for the works would be always troublesome, mentioning one of those works during a talk would always require a digression, etc.

All of that would distract other researchers from the results, especially for the paper considering that it was published later. Ultimately it is not inconceivable that referee (whoever it might be) demands the change of the title.

Bottom line - I would try to think another witty title. :)

  • 4
    Doubly so if it's a cute title. In a blandly generic title (e.g., "Algebra") it might be acceptable, but when the title is creative, you really shouldn't repeat it.
    – jakebeal
    Apr 15 '15 at 16:25
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    @jakebeal On the other hand, a search for the title "Algebra" might be a little bit difficult...
    – Greg d'Eon
    Apr 15 '15 at 20:23
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    @Gregd'Eon If you try that search, you'll find it doesn't seem to have stopped anybody...
    – jakebeal
    Apr 15 '15 at 21:03
  • @jakebeal Thought I doubt there are any (serious) papers with that title (but it is probably one of the most common titles of math books). Apr 16 '15 at 10:08

There's no legal issue with two creative works having the same title, but I would want to have a different title so that people could easily distinguish the two works. I would want it to be very clear that there's a new article that's available that's distinct from this book. As such, I think you ought to change your title even if it's a better fit for your article than it is for the book. Cute titles can really only do so much.

  • 6
    Also, if the book author indeed turns out to be a reviewer, having the same title could annoy her.
    – Bitwise
    Apr 15 '15 at 15:17

My suggestion is a slight modification to the title. Another option is a sub-title or sub heading which is a unique identifier. For example, a book titled Arizona: Portrait of a desert landscape and another, slightly unique, titled Arizona: Understanding the Desert Landscape. Also, you can pluralize a word (face could become faces, for example) in the title of your book, for distinctiveness.

Consider the book titles Bill Gates: Entrepreneur and Bill Gates: Master Innovator. Both titles have the same name, as they are about the same person, but the sub heading or sub title is unique.


I recently published an opinion piece to an online newspaper, the title is pretty much the same as a book that was published a few years ago, and I think I saw another article similar. I panicked at first and thought I might be in trouble, but then I googled this issue and came across this site. Next time, you can Google the actual title that you want to give to your work, and see if there are similar articles with the same title. You can then change the title slightly so that your work is easier to search for. Don't stress though.

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