If I am writing a formal academic text that includes a list of professors, how should I write it? For example,

The committee finds that Prof. X, Prof. Y, and Prof. Z have contributed to the area.


The committee finds that Professors X, Y, Z have contributed to the area.

Which, between above two sentences, is appropriate? In the second sentence, I feel bit awkward to leave Y, Z without immediate titles of Prof.

Or both versions are acceptable?

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    Short story: there is no "right" answer, only preferences and style choices. I personally prefer the 2nd version, with only one instance of "Professor", but, and this is the critical part, YMMV. – Dan Bron Jul 27 '16 at 22:58
  • If you were using "Mr" (as in 'Mister') instead of Professor, would you omit it for the subsequent ones. If there are only 3 professors, I would include it 3 times - if there were a lot more, I may omit it. – TrevorD Jul 27 '16 at 23:42
  • @TrevorD I'd use Messrs. I would prefer the second one though. – JDF Aug 6 '16 at 14:27

Typically, academic papers exclude academic titles in the body of the literature, but their reference in the citation section includes highest degree earned (and possibly a notable position in a professional society).

You might consider just listing your folks by their last name in the body such as Watkins, Ling, and Russell. A PhD may also be referred to as "Doctor," of course, if you prefer including their titles. The problem with "professor" is there are many types of professors: assistant, associate, clinical, senior, emeritus; it's formal use has become far less common in the last century.

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  • Thanks for your answer. However, naming a professor without title can be offensive. Professors did something special than a PhD, so they are professors. I personally think even an assistant professor title is more important than a PhD. If you just write Prof. X and X, it is like insulting him. – wey273824 Jul 28 '16 at 0:57
  • Typically, the exact title is given in a bio at some place outside of the body of the paper or book: Todd Jones, MD, F.A.C.S., Clinical Professor of Surgery, Johns Hopkins University Medical Center or some such – Stu W Jul 28 '16 at 1:46
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    This may depend on the local culture and on the academic field, but in my "world," mathematics in the U.S., academic papers that refer to me usually use simply "Blass" or sometimes "Andreas Blass." I am certainly not offended by omission of "Prof." before my name, and in fact it would strike me as rather strange if someone did include "Prof." in such a context (I'd probably assume that the author came from a rather different culture where such titles are more commonly used). – Andreas Blass Jul 28 '16 at 4:42
  • @Andreas it appears to be not the done thing in papers in the West, where the author's name is mainly used to identify the author's ideas. The ideas should stand on their own merit not on the author's title (ideally of course). In organisational matters, of course, the title usually is used. – Chris H Jul 28 '16 at 11:48
  • @Stu "clinical professor of surgery" isn't just a title. It's a position and gives useful information – Chris H Jul 28 '16 at 11:50

I would opt for the latter of your two suggestions. The first is just too verbose, and your paper will lose readibility for what little it gains in deference to their titles.

The committee finds that Professors X, Y, Z have contributed to the area.

I would amend slightly to

The committee finds that Professors X, Y and Z have contributed to the area.

This is following the suggestions for citation from Harvard Referencing (see 'In-Text Citations for Two or Three Authors', towards the end of the page here), when you are referencing in text citations for two or three authors. Although in this case you are not actually citing their body of work but referring to their general contribution, I would say this would give you excellent justification for using this construct in your particular example. Granted the referencing scheme does not refer to titles specifically, but this is a guide to referencing for academic papers, if there was some kind of need to qualify each of the individuals with their named titles I am sure it would have been articulated in the guide.

On the subject of deference you are acknowledging each of them equally by using the plural of 'Professor' and then listing them as you do. Grammatically the noun is shared with each of the named individuals.

Also as I say from a pure readability standpoint, the second of your two options is far better (just with the conjunctive 'and' before the third professor).

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