I was browsing through PhD Comics, aka "Piled Higher and Deeper," a comic strip for grad students, and came across this strip about the thesis title. Here's the sequence of components:
1. witty catch-phrase: "Makes people think you're hip and culturally relevant. Only marginally related to the actual thesis? No problem."
2. the colon: "Can't decide what to title your thesis? Use a colon!"
3. length-enhanced superlative verbiage with prolixity: "Nothing says 'academic rigor' like a long string of scientific-sounding terminology and fancy buzzwords."
4. in/of/for: "A good preposition tells your readers, 'Hey, this is not just a futile exercise.'"
5. obscure topic few people care about: "Sad, but true."
How accurate is this analysis? Well, as a case in point, my own master's thesis was titled "Singles at the Crossroads: A Practical Theology of Singleness for Generation X," which is not nearly as obscure as many thesis titles out there. It was accepted for publication by IVP, and after about fifty pages were added and at least a hundred more were cut, it was eventually published as Singles at the Crossroads: A Fresh Perspective on Christian Singleness. It's unusual for a book to be published with its original title, but I had intentionally titled my project as building on the work of Rodney Clapp's excellent Families at the Crossroads. And we just scheduled a book for 2009 with the title Marriage at the Crossroads, so the series continues!