How to list your credentials and title when you publish

Posted on June 29, 2011 by


Here is a topic that is not often discussed, but remains a persistent issue for many!  “What is the proper way to list my credentials?  Which should come first, RN, PhD, MS?”  Most folks have very strong opinions about this and will most certainly object if you list their credentials in an order other than what they prefer.  TheyDiploma and notebook will typically give you very good reasons for why they feel one credential or another should be first.  Therefore, as an Editor, my guideline for this is that each person’s credentials should be listed exactly as they prefer them to be listed!

However, there is one “credential” that is frequently indicated that we will not use — the non-credential “PhD(c).”  I am not sure how this convention started, but it is one of my particular pet peeves.  And in many formal and informal polls of other editors, by far the majority agree — this is not an acceptable credential.  Yes, the little (c) does indicate that a person has passed into “candidacy,” meaning that the person has completed all coursework requirements, and (in a U.S. system of doctoral education) now only has to complete the dissertation to be awarded the degree. This is also known as the “ABD” – “All But Dissertation!”  Perhaps the trend to use the little (c) was an attempt to overcome this negative connotation.

There are many problems with using any designation to indicate candidacy as a credential.  The foremost  is that simply put, it is not a credential. It is simply an institutional right of passage.  If a person surpasses the time limit to complete the dissertation, their journey in pursuit of an actual degree ends, and they are left with whatever other credentials they had when they entered the doctoral program.

Do not get me wrong here … we are delighted when an author has achieved this right of passage.  You should acknowledge this, but in an acknowledgement, not as a credential.   If you are a master’s or a doctoral student, or candidate, indicate your status in your acknowledgements and also include the name of the institution where you are enrolled.  But do not include any initials like “PhD(c).”  Another detail that I encourage you to consider — name your primary faculty advisor or advisors – the people who are giving you encouragement and guidance.

Do you have other opinions or questions about this issue?  Leave a comment here!  I am always delighted to hear from you!