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05/19/2022

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Villager

I think the norm (in my village) is to thank all who commented on the paper. If you ever want someone to read a paper of yours in the future, then you had better thank people, whether their comments led to revisions or not. (IT is not a zero sum game, the thanking business). BUT, you can flag specific people for special thanks, who really helped you in revising the paper so it can get published in a great journal. In one book of mine I explicitly note that a conversation with X led me to write Chapter Y. Y was not in my book until X urged me to address the issue the chapter takes up.

Mark Herman

“I try to thank anyone who in any plausible way ‘helped the paper come to fruition,’ where this is understood in the broadest possible sense.”


I’d like to thank LUCA [not Luka, nor that kid on the second floor, but our Last Universal Common Ancestor], whose tireless efforts with nary a complaint made this paper possible.

Trevor Hedberg

I've generally thanked (by name) anyone who gave comments on a previous draft or with whom I had a long conversation or email exchange about the subject matter. I'll also thank my presentation audiences (in general terms) and, if applicable, my commentators at the event (by name). Obviously not all comments are of equal quality, but I view this as part of showing respect to the time and effort that others put forward to engage with my work.

Also, while it might go without saying, acknowledge someone regardless of their career status or university affiliation. I still have bad memories of giving detailed comments on a paper at a conference in 2012 and discovering I was not in the acknowledgements when that paper was published a couple years later even though it was obvious the author had changed the paper to respond to my objections. Other people who were at that conference did get acknowledged, which made me wonder if I was excluded just because, say, I was a grad student or from a relatively undistinguished program.

Assistant Professor

If thanking anyone who in any plausible way helped the paper come to fruition, how far should we go as academic professionals to point out the labor and contributions that make our work possible? I mean this as a sincere question, to think about what and who we acknowledge and what purpose(s) the acknowledgements serve.

1. If we name other philosophers or audiences or grants that gave us material feedback or funding this functions both to thank them, but to signal something about our own uptake and connection in the profession.
2. But there are all kinds of other people and institutions that help my work come to fruition (the people who emotionally, financially and practically supported and encouraged me to become an academic, the institution that pays my salary, my spouse who does far more of the childcare than I do, the conversations with non-academic friends or the non-academic thing I read that lead me to a new project, etc.).

Part of me want to say that the stuff in #2 is outside the scope or point of acknowledgements, and part of me thinks it would shape the field for the better if we made more explicit the various kinds of goods or benefits that make successful scholars successful (though this still doesn't mean the acknowledgements of a paper are the right place to do this).

Karl

Acknowledgements are free and they make people feel appreciated. No one will think less of you if your paper has a bunch of names in the acknowledgements. Be as inclusive as you can. Err on the side of inclusion.

Jakub

I see the issue differently. There is something shady about public acknowledgements. A public acknowlegement expresses something else beyond the plain "thank you" - like look at my research network. There is nothing wrong to say someone "thank you, I appreciate your suggestions" in private without informing others. This is, for me, the primary mode of expressing gratitude. A public acknowlegement is more like an Oscar winning speech. Maybe this attitude differs across cultures and regions.

Tam

Maybe this would be for its own thread, but I'm curious others agree with Karl's statement that "No one will think less of you if your paper has a bunch of names in the acknowledgements".

Filippo Contesi

I disagree that there is anything shady about public acknowledgments. Quite the contrary. The central contribution of a scholarly paper is the ideas it puts forward, which are often partially indebted to others’ input. It is therefore essential that, as much as the paper itself mentioned is attributed to its authors, others’ input also be recognized, at the very least with the names of those who provided it.

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