I would like to mention in an article a scientist that passed away in 2015 and was universally recognized as a pioneer in his respective field. Since many knew him personnally, I would like to mention him respectfully, such as 'the Late Dr. XXX' or 'Honorable Dr. XXX'.

I am afraid it would be unethical, especially considering that many other authors that I mention are also gone (but few people really knew them) ?

  • You could dedicate an article to the scientist.
    – user2768
    Aug 9, 2017 at 12:05
  • 2
    @user2768 This would be inappropriate if you didn't know the scientist concerned personally.
    – MJeffryes
    Aug 9, 2017 at 12:32
  • @user2768: As far as I understand the question, the author is concerned even writing "the late Dr. XXX" might unfairly call attention to Dr. XXX compared to other late researchers. It seems that dedicating an article (in both possible interpretations) to Dr. XXX would intensify this issue rather than alleviate it. Aug 9, 2017 at 13:32
  • 3
    I am not sure if 'late' is really a term of respect, I think it's more to convey information to the unaware reader. Why not try something like 'the influential' or 'the founder of the field X'? If it's a scientific paper, I don't think it makes much sense to put an opinion of a peer in there unless it conveys useful information (e.g., where to look for the foundational work in a field). Aug 9, 2017 at 13:44
  • 3
    This sounds like a wonderful opportunity for writing a letter to the editor of one of your field's journals. In my area, at least, there's usually a small section of these journals dedicated to such letters. Even if you didn't know the scientist personally, you can write of the influence their work had on you.
    – tonysdg
    Aug 9, 2017 at 16:34

1 Answer 1


I would strongly advise you against that idea. A well written article has to remain objective. Your relationship with that scientist is not a matter of any importance in the research you are describing in the article. Even adding qualifiers to the name is a bad move in my opinion, as you would be imposing your judgement to the reader.

I know this might seem a nice gesture in the moment, but the article is here to (hopefully) stay, and this type of personal/temporal address will become even more irrelevant to the reader.

  • 1
    Thank you. The concept of sustainable article writing, for me, makes the point. Even though in such small field everyone would agree for the scientist stature, over time it will definitely not be relevant at all, even disturbing if other reknowned authors died along years. The fact is (I think I realize), scientific writing is no place for superfluous sentimentalism. Aug 9, 2017 at 16:51

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .