I am working on a research project whose eventual conclusion is probably several years away. However, I have some intermediate results that are:

a) Useful for practitioners in the field b) Useful as stepping stones towards the eventual complete solution

I'm thinking of writing up these results in a paper with the title: "Towards a closed-form solution of grasp statics". My question is, is it correct to use "towards" here to indicate that the paper is presenting a piece of an as-yet incomplete solution?

  • As formulated, this is awfully close to a shopping question. However, MathSciNet and Google Scholar show a lot of presumably reputed papers starting with "Towards…" – Dirk Sep 15 '16 at 18:42
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    Minor nitpick: "towards" is correct in British English, but in American English you should use "toward." – user37208 Sep 15 '16 at 19:10
  • What is a shopping question? – Michael Stachowsky Sep 15 '16 at 19:10
  • @user37208 since when? I'm very American ("Southern by the Grace of God", as we like to say) and I would use towards. – user0721090601 Sep 16 '16 at 0:07
  • @guifa chicagomanualofstyle.org/16/ch05/ch05_sec220.html – user37208 Sep 16 '16 at 3:11

Using "towards" in a title is perfectly acceptable, as indicated by the large number of papers that you can find with this word in their title.

I've also used it myself, in just the sort of manner that you are considering, and found no objection from reviewers.

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    I have one starting with "toward" too (which reminds me of this): we have thus at least two cases from users of Academia.SE. Caveat emptor: we haven't reach the goal and I moved to something else: handle "towards" with care. – Massimo Ortolano Sep 15 '16 at 18:57

Although I agree with the other answer that "towards" in a title is fine, I don't believe it is acceptable for the as-yet-unsolved major topic to stand alone as the entire title.

In particular, if while working toward a closed-form solution of grasp statics, you publish several papers containing useful partial results, a reader should be able to distinguish them by title and not merely the year of publication.

Most probably once you identify the differentiating factor for this piece of work, you'll still name the major problem, but without using the word "towards". Perhaps something like Separability of force-volume integrals arising in analytic models of grasp statics (I really have no clue about your field, I'm just throwing in some mathematics terms)

In summary: DO name the problem you're working towards, but if possible, make your title descriptive of the portion you've done, and try to avoid the word "towards".

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