The question of how media and large institutions should recognize academic credentials, rank and titles while ensuring readability for their audiences has sparked dialogue in recent years.
Some members of the UBC community have also raised this important question—and we’ve been listening.
Until recently, the response from UBC Media Relations was that, as a general rule, we follow Canadian Press (CP) style for our press releases and media materials. In CP style, the professional title “Dr.” is used only for licensed health care professionals, such as physicians, dentists and veterinarians. We follow CP style so that the stories we write are consistent with the style used by hundreds of media outlets across Canada.
At UBC Media Relations, we have a great deal of respect for members of our academic community who have demonstrated the ability and perseverance needed to obtain a doctoral degree, the highest level of academic credential.
UBC also strives to be a community in which equity is embedded in all areas of academic, work and campus life. As such, it is imperative that UBC press releases and media materials are reflective of the university’s ongoing commitment to fostering equity, diversity and inclusion in our community. Just as UBC Media Relations recently updated our style guide to recognize our faculty members’ preferred pronouns, so too will we now also recognize their academic titles.
With these considerations in mind, we have updated the UBC Media Relations style guide. While we will continue to be guided by CP for most other style matters, we are amending our guidelines regarding the “Dr.” title.
Effective immediately, we are implementing the following changes:
- The title Dr. will be used in front of the names of any faculty, staff member or postdoctoral scholar who has been awarded a doctoral degree from the University of British Columbia, or other post-secondary institutions
- The title Dr. will be used in all references throughout the text. E.g. “Dr. Jane Smith” on first reference and “Dr. Smith” on additional references
- If the person wishes to use their UBC title rather than the title Dr., we will defer to their preference. E.g. “Prof. John Smith, who teaches in the faculty of education”
For more information, please refer to the updated UBC Media Relations Style Guide here.