Use of the Title "Doctor"

The title "Doctor" unquestionably adds authority to the author of a medical or scientific report in the media.

Many scientists with doctorate degrees (e.g., Ph.D., Sc.D., etc.) are doing medical research. Others, such as physicists, are not. Both are entitled to "Doctor," and both may publicly express valid opinions on medical subjects. The science writer must find out the credentials of the scientists quoted and make the authority clear. Almost all news organizations, however, reserve the title Dr. for M.D.s.

In written materials for the media, you, as PIO, should refer to a scientist's discipline at least once (e.g., Dr. Cynthia Jones, Chicago physicist). Or, you may refer to the scientist initially as Ralph Jones, Ph.D., thereafter referring to the researcher as Dr. Jones.


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