How to write the Acknowledgements section of a research paper
References & Acknowledgements
Among all the sections of a typical research paper, the acknowledgements section is the easiest to write—which is probably why most books on writing research papers tend to ignore it. Yet, acknowledgements can be politically tricky. By forgetting to acknowledge those whom you should have acknowledged, you risk offending them; but even those whom you have acknowledged in your paper can take offence at the manner in which this is done. At times, when the help received is substantial, it can be hard to decide whether you should acknowledge the support or offer authorship instead. Wish this were as simple as remembering that it is Acknowledgments without the ‘e’ in US English but Acknowledgements with the ‘e’ in UK English.
This article discusses the purpose of the acknowledgements section in a research paper and offers tips on who should be mentioned in it and how, who should be excluded, and how the section should be formatted.
In academic writing, the time-honoured method of acknowledging people is to cite their work, but that does not apply here. And yet, it is only proper that you put on record – by means of an appropriate mention in the acknowledgements section – any help that you received in conducting your research, in writing about it and publishing it. By doing so, albeit indirectly, you make your work more credible: for instance, when you acknowledge the help you received from a statistician in designing your experiment and in analysing its results, you reassure journal editors and, more important, those who review your manuscript, about the experimental design and the analysis of results. Similarly, acknowledging the help you received from a copy editor shows that you have taken care of the language, style, and formatting.
Who should be acknowledged ?
Broadly, you should acknowledge those who helped you by going beyond their normal call of duty, especially those whose help proved crucial to your work or who provided expertise that you lacked. Such people may include some of your peers, your mentors (research supervisors or guides), and even your students. If you received funding, the fact should be acknowledged. Some funding agencies may have specific instructions about how their funding should be mentioned; if that is so, make sure that the form of acknowledgement is consistent with such instructions. You should also consider acknowledging any material or other resources made available to you free of charge. However, if such help is mentioned as part of a conflict-of-interest statement, it should not be repeated in the acknowledgements section.
Consider including reviewers, even if they are anonymous, if their suggestions have resulted in a substantially improved manuscript.
It is also advisable to have your phrasing approved by those mentioned in the acknowledgements, because such a mention may imply that they approve of the contents of the research paper.
Who should not be acknowledged ?
Unlike dedications and acknowledgement commonly found in books, acknowledgements in research papers do not feature parents, family members, or friends (unless of course they qualify on other grounds). Similarly, those who provide a service as part of their job (laboratory technicians, field assistants, and so on) are usually excluded. Heads of departments, directors of laboratories, and people in similar positions also should not be acknowledged routinely: include them only if they went out of their way to help you.
Phrasing the acknowledgements
In general, be factual and avoid going overboard. Something along the lines of “The authors thank John Smith for advice on experimental design and statistical analysis” should be fine. Courtesy titles (Mr, Ms, Dr, etc.) before the names are rarely used (but check your target journal), and job titles or designations are seldom given. Avoid such expressions as ‘kind help’, ‘eternally grateful’, and ‘greatly indebted to’. If the acknowledgement is specifically by one of the authors of the paper, it is customary to use only the initials, as in “JS thanks...”.
In terms of sequence, any intellectual contributions come first, followed by technical support, help in revising and writing; financial support is mentioned at the end.
Formatting the acknowledgements
As a rule of thumb, the acknowledgement section should be a single short paragraph of say half a dozen lines. Examine the target journal for the format: whether the heading appears on a separate line or run on (that is, the text follows the heading on the same line). Check also whether the heading is in bold or in italics. The headings in the main body of the paper may be numbered, but the acknowledgement section is not numbered. Do not use any special formatting within the paragraph.
Effectively, acknowledgements signal the end of the main body of a research paper. Of course, they are followed by references—but that is another story.
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Published on: Dec 02, 2021
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- Thesis & Dissertation Acknowledgements | Tips & Examples
Thesis & Dissertation Acknowledgements | Tips & Examples
Published on May 3, 2022 by Tegan George . Revised on November 11, 2022.
The acknowledgements section is your opportunity to thank those who have helped and supported you personally and professionally during your thesis or dissertation process.
Thesis or dissertation acknowledgements appear between your title page and abstract and should be no longer than one page.
In your acknowledgements, it’s okay to use a more informal style than is usually permitted in academic writing , as well as first-person pronouns . Acknowledgements are not considered part of the academic work itself, but rather your chance to write something more personal.
To get started, download our step-by-step template in the format of your choice below. We’ve also included sample sentence starters to help you construct your acknowledgments section from scratch.
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Table of contents
Who to thank in your acknowledgements, how to write acknowledgements, acknowledgements section example, acknowledgements dos and don’ts, frequently asked questions about the acknowledgements section.
Generally, there are two main categories of acknowledgements: professional and personal .
A good first step is to check your university’s guidelines, as they may have rules or preferences about the order, phrasing, or layout of acknowledgements. Some institutions prefer that you keep your acknowledgements strictly professional.
Regardless, it’s usually a good idea to place professional acknowledgements first, followed by any personal ones. You can then proceed by ranking who you’d like to thank from most formal to least.
- Chairs, supervisors, or defense committees
- Funding bodies
- Other academics (e.g., colleagues or cohort members)
- Editors or proofreaders
- Librarians, research/laboratory assistants, or study participants
- Family, friends, or pets
Typically, it’s only necessary to mention people who directly supported you during your thesis or dissertation. However, if you feel that someone like a high school physics teacher was a great inspiration on the path to your current research, feel free to include them as well.
It is crucial to avoid overlooking anyone who helped you professionally as you completed your thesis or dissertation. As a rule of thumb, anyone who directly contributed to your research process, from figuring out your dissertation topic to your final proofread, should be mentioned.
A few things to keep in mind include:
- Even if you feel your chair didn’t help you very much, you should still thank them first to avoid looking like you’re snubbing them.
- Be sure to follow academic conventions, using full names with titles where appropriate.
- If several members of a group or organization assisted you, mention the collective name only.
- Remember the ethical considerations around anonymized data. If you wish to protect someone’s privacy, use only their first name or a generic identifier (such as “the interviewees”)/
There is no need to mention every member of your family or friend group. However, if someone was particularly inspiring or supportive, you may wish to mention them specifically. Many people choose to thank parents, partners, children, friends, and even pets, but you can mention anyone who offered moral support or encouragement, or helped you in a tangible or intangible way.
Some students may wish to dedicate their dissertation to a deceased influential person in their personal life. In this case, it’s okay to mention them first, before any professional acknowledgements.
After you’ve compiled a list of who you’d like to thank, you can then sort your list into rank order. Separate everyone you listed into “major thanks,” “big thanks,” and “minor thanks” categories.
- “Major thanks” are given to people who your project would be impossible without. These are often predominantly professional acknowledgements, such as your advisor, chair, and committee, as well as any funders.
- “Big thanks” are an in-between, for those who helped you along the way or helped you grow intellectually, such as classmates, peers, or librarians.
- “Minor thanks” can be a catch-all for everyone else, especially those who offered moral support or encouragement. This can include personal acknowledgements, such as parents, partners, children, friends, or even pets.
How to phrase your acknowledgements
To avoid acknowledgements that sound repetitive or dull, consider changing up your phrasing. Here are some examples of common sentence starters you can use for each category.
Note that you do not need to write any sort of conclusion or summary at the end. You can simply end the acknowledgements with your last thank you.
What can proofreading do for your paper?
Scribbr editors not only correct grammar and spelling mistakes, but also strengthen your writing by making sure your paper is free of vague language, redundant words, and awkward phrasing.
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Here’s an example of how you can combine the different sentences to write your acknowledgements.
A simple construction consists of a sentence starter (in purple highlight ), followed by the person or entity mentioned (in green highlight ), followed by what you’re thanking them for (in yellow highlight .)
Words cannot express my gratitude to my professor and chair of my committee for her invaluable patience and feedback. I also could not have undertaken this journey without my defense committee, who generously provided knowledge and expertise. Additionally, this endeavor would not have been possible without the generous support from the MacArthur Foundation, who financed my research .
I am also grateful to my classmates and cohort members, especially my office mates, for their editing help, late-night feedback sessions, and moral support. Thanks should also go to the librarians, research assistants, and study participants from the university, who impacted and inspired me.
Lastly, I would be remiss in not mentioning my family, especially my parents, spouse, and children. Their belief in me has kept my spirits and motivation high during this process. I would also like to thank my cat for all the entertainment and emotional support.
- Write in first-person, professional language
- Thank your professional contacts first
- Include full names, titles, and roles of professional acknowledgements
- Include personal or intangible supporters, like friends, family, or even pets
- Mention funding bodies and what they funded
- Appropriately anonymize or group research participants or non-individual acknowledgments
- Use informal language or slang
- Go over one page in length
- Mention people who had only a peripheral or minor impact on your work
In the acknowledgements of your thesis or dissertation, you should first thank those who helped you academically or professionally, such as your supervisor, funders, and other academics.
Then you can include personal thanks to friends, family members, or anyone else who supported you during the process.
Yes, it’s important to thank your supervisor(s) in the acknowledgements section of your thesis or dissertation .
Even if you feel your supervisor did not contribute greatly to the final product, you must acknowledge them, if only for a very brief thank you. If you do not include your supervisor, it may be seen as a snub.
The acknowledgements are generally included at the very beginning of your thesis , directly after the title page and before the abstract .
In a thesis or dissertation, the acknowledgements should usually be no longer than one page. There is no minimum length.
You may acknowledge God in your dissertation acknowledgements , but be sure to follow academic convention by also thanking the members of academia, as well as family, colleagues, and friends who helped you.
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Acknowledgement in Research Paper – A Quick Guide [5 Examples]
The acknowledgement section in your research paper is where you thank those who have helped or supported you throughout your research and writing. It is a short section of 3-5 paragraphs or no more than 300 words you put on a page after the title page.
In this post, we are going to provide you with five examples of acknowlegdement section and a handful of best practices you can make your work look professional.
Saying thank you with style
How to write an acknowledgement: the complete guide for students, why should i include an acknowledgement in my research paper.
Acknowledging assistance and contributions from others can establish your integrity as a researcher. This will eventually make your work more credible.
What should be acknowledged about (aka thankful for)?
In your acknowledgement, you can show gratitude for those who provide you with resources in the following area:
- Technical help may include people who helped you by providing materials and supplies.
- Intellectual help includes academic advice and assistance.
- Mental help can be any kind of verbal support and encouragement.
- Financial support that is obviously related to monetary support
Who should be included in the acknowledgement of a research paper?
You can include everyone who helped you technically, intellectually, or financially (assistance with grants or monetary help) in the process of researching and writing your research paper. Except for your family and friends, you should always include the full names with the title of these individuals:
- Your profession, supervisor, or teacher
- Academic staff (e.g. lab assistant) of your school/college
- Your department, faculty, college, or school
- Classmates, teammates, co-workers, or colleague
- Friends and family members
You can start with your professor or the individuals who supported you the most throughout the research. And then you can continue by thanking your institution and then the reviewer who reviewed your paper. Then you can thank your friends and families and any other individual who helped.
What is the tone of the acknowledgement in a research paper?
You should write your acknowledgement in formal language with complete sentences. It is appropriate to write in the first person (‘I’ for a single author or ‘we’ for two or more).
Note that personal pronouns such as ‘I, my, me …’ are nearly always used in the acknowledgements only. For the rest of the research paper, such personal pronouns are generally avoided.
Writing an acknowledgement for research paper is one of the important parts of your project report. You need to thank everyone for helping you with your paper . Here are some examples of acknowledgement for your research paper.
Acknowledgement in Research Paper: Example 1
Acknowledgement in research paper: example 2, acknowledgement in research paper: example 3, acknowledgement in research paper: example 4, acknowledgement in research paper: example 5.
You can use these or try to create your own version for your project report. Also, you can use our auto acknowledgement generator tool to automatically generate acknowledgement for your project.
Where should I put the acknowledgement section?
The acknowledgements section should appear between your title page and your introduction in your research paper.
How long is an acknowledgement in a research paper?
The acknowledgement section (usualy inserted as a page) of your research paper should consist of 3-5 paragraphs or no more than 300 words you put on a page after the title page.
Should I use the full names of family members in an acknowledgement?
You do not necessarily need to use the full name for your family and friends (it would sound pretty awkward to use the full name of your parent or spouse right?), you should always include the full names with the title for all other individuals in your acknowledgement.
Can I use “first person” in an acknowledgement?
Yes. It is appropriate to write in the first person (‘I’ for a single author or ‘we’ for two or more).
What is an acknowledgement in academic writing?
An acknowledgement is a page is where you show appreciation to people who helped or supported you intellectually, mentally, or financially in your academic writing.
It should be no longer than one page.
More Definitions on Acknowledgement
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“Acknowledgement” vs “Acknowledgment”… …what the hack?
Both “acknowledgement” and “acknowledgment” are used in the English-speaking world. However, acknowledgement with the “e” in the middle is more commonly used. It is up to 24.5 times more popular in the top 5 English-speaking countries in the world.
Other Popular Acknowledgement Examples
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How-to Guides on Academic Writing and Others
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Acknowledgements Example for an Academic Research Paper
Posted by Rene Tetzner | Sep 1, 2021 | How To Get Published | 0 |
Acknowledgements Example for an Academic or Scientific Research Paper This example of acknowledgements for a research paper is designed to demonstrate how intellectual, financial and other research contributions should be formally acknowledged in academic and scientific writing. As brief acknowledgements for a research paper, the example gathers contributions of different kinds – intellectual assistance, financial support, image credits etc. – into a single Acknowledgements section. Do note, however, that the formats preferred by some scholarly journals require the separation of certain contributions such as financial support of research into their own sections.
Although authors often write acknowledgements hastily, the Acknowledgements section is an important part of a research paper. Acknowledging assistance and contributions establishes your integrity as a researcher as well as your connections and collaborations. It can also help your readers with their own research, affect the influence and impact of the researchers and other professionals you thank, and demonstrate the value and purpose of the agencies that fund your work. The contents of the example I have prepared here are appropriate for a research paper intended for publication in a peer-reviewed journal, but the author, the research project, the manuscript studied, the journal publishing the paper and all those to whom gratitude is extended are entirely fictional. They were created for the purpose of demonstrating the following key concerns when writing the acknowledgements for a formal research paper:
• Writing in the first person (‘I’ for a single author or ‘we’ for two or more) to offer concise but sincere acknowledgements of specific contributions to your research. • Maintaining formal language, complete sentences and a professional tone to give specific and thorough information about contributions and convey collegial gratitude. • Expressing respect and appreciation in an appropriate fashion for each and every contribution and avoiding artificial or excessive flattery. • Using the complete names and preferred name formats for individuals, funding agencies, libraries, businesses and other organisations. Here, for example, I posit that the library holding the relevant manuscript has indicated that the name of the collection (lengthy though it is) should not be abbreviated. • Acknowledging contributions to your research and paper in the order that best represents the nature and importance of those contributions. The assistance of the author’s mentor comes first here, for instance, whereas the language editor is acknowledged much further down the list. • Meeting the requirements for acknowledgements set by the journal or other publisher of the research paper. For the example below, the goal is to record all relevant contributions to the research and paper in a single brief Acknowledgements section of 500 words or less – a set of parameters that would suit the acknowledgement requirements or expectations of many academic and scientific journals and even fit into a footnote or endnote if necessary.
Example Acknowledgements for an Academic Research Paper This paper and the research behind it would not have been possible without the exceptional support of my supervisor, Lawrence Magister. His enthusiasm, knowledge and exacting attention to detail have been an inspiration and kept my work on track from my first encounter with the log books of British Naval Ships MS VII.2.77 to the final draft of this paper. Margaret Kempis and Matthew Brown, my colleagues at Western University, have also looked over my transcriptions and answered with unfailing patience numerous questions about the language and hands of British Naval Ships MS VII.2.77. Samantha McKenzie, head librarian of the Southern Region Central Collegiate Library Special Collections and Microfilms Department where British Naval Ships MS VII.2.77 currently resides, not only provided colour images of the manuscript overnight, but unexpectedly shared the invaluable information on the book that she has been gathering for almost twenty years. I am also grateful for the insightful comments offered by the anonymous peer reviewers at Books & Texts. The generosity and expertise of one and all have improved this study in innumerable ways and saved me from many errors; those that inevitably remain are entirely my own responsibility.
Studying British Naval Ships MS VII.2.77 has proved extremely costly and I am most thankful for the Western University Doctoral Fellowship that has provided financial support for the larger project from which this paper grew. A travel grant from the Literary Society of the Southern Region turned the hope of working in person with British Naval Ships MS VII.2.77 into a reality, and the generous offer of free accommodation from Ms McKay (Samantha McKenzie’s aunt) allowed me to continue my research with the book much longer than I could have hoped. The final design of the complicated transcription tables in Appendices I–III is the creative and technical work of Sam Stone at A+AcaSciTables.com, and the language and format of the paper have benefited enormously from the academic editing services of Veronica Perfect. Finally, it is with true pleasure that I acknowledge the contributions of my amazing partner, Kendric James, who has given up many a Friday evening and Sunday afternoon to read every version of this paper and the responses it has generated with a combination of compassion and criticism that only he could muster for what he fondly calls ‘my odd obsession with books about the sea.’
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Writing Acknowledgments for Your Research Paper
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In this article, we describe what types of contributions warrant mention in the acknowledgments section of a paper .
Updated on July 8, 2014
In another article , we discuss four criteria that must be met for an individual to qualify for manuscript authorship. In this article, we describe what types of contributions warrant mention in the acknowledgments section of a paper instead. The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) describes several roles that merit acknowledgment, rather than authorship :
“acquisition of funding; general supervision of a research group or general administrative support; and writing assistance, technical editing, language editing, and proofreading.”
You should also acknowledge direct technical assistance, including help with animals, cells, equipment, patients, procedures, or techniques or provision of data, equipment, reagents, or samples, as well as more indirect assistance via intellectual discussions. Note that all of these contributions are typically more mechanical, indirect, and/or one-dimensional than those of authors. Additionally, some argue that individuals who provided help and could be chosen as a peer reviewer, leading to a potential conflict of interest, should be cited.
In any case, the ICMJE states that contributors may be cited individually or collectively and that their precise contributions should be specified.
e.g., “We thank Dr. X and Dr. Y for performing the surgeries” or “We thank the physicians who performed the surgeries"
Institutional affiliations may or may not be mentioned, depending on the journal's guidelines. Finally, the ICMJE encourages written permission from acknowledged individuals “because acknowledgment may imply endorsement.”
Funding sources should also be mentioned in the acknowledgments section, unless your target journal requires a separate section for this information. Whether the funding was partial or full, relevant grant numbers, and the author(s) who received the funding, if applicable, should be detailed as well. Note that acknowledging grants and fellowships is in fact required by many funding agencies and research institutions.
In contrast, contributions that are not specifically related to your research, including personal encouragement (e.g., by your friends or parents) and very general help (e.g., from a laboratory manager who purchases all supplies for your research group), should not be cited. Additionally, anonymous editors and peer reviewers are usually not thanked in the acknowledgments section; many journals (such as American Physical Society journals ) explicitly discourage this practice because it is difficult to comprehensively acknowledge all anonymous support and because this practice could potentially bias reviewers.
The writing style of acknowledgments sections may vary according to the journal, but generally, these sections are written in the first person and are as succinct as possible. A statement about conflicts of interest, citation of previous publication in poster or abstract form, and other information may also be included in this section, again depending on the journal. As you proceed through revisions for one journal or if you change your target journal, remember to reformat as necessary and to update your acknowledgments if additional help was obtained during the revision, such as with editing or new experiments.
Although an acknowledgments section may be appended to the end of your manuscript or relegated to a footnote, it is not a trivial component. By acknowledging all help received with your research, you are demonstrating your integrity as a researcher, which in turn encourages continued collaboration. You may also be bolstering your colleagues' careers, as being credited in an acknowledgments section is emerging as one of many gauges of a researcher's professional impact beyond citations (see ImpactStory , based on altmetrics ). Furthermore, information about who provided certain data, equipment, protocols, reagents, or samples may be of help to other researchers in your field.
This editing tip has hopefully elucidated what to include in the acknowledgments section of your manuscript and why this section is significant. If you have any comments or questions, please contact us . Best wishes in your research and writing!
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Writing Acknowledgements for Academic or Scientific Manuscripts
Posted by rene | May 11, 2021 | Advice & Discussions on Preparing & Submitting Journal Articles for Publication | 0 |
Writing Acknowledgements for Academic or Scientific Manuscripts Most academics and scientists read (or perhaps skim) many acknowledgements as they consult sources for their research, and this general familiarity with standard formats and contents is extremely helpful when it comes time to sit down and acknowledge in formal prose the assistance that supported their own research. Writing the acknowledgements section for a scientific or academic paper intended for journal publication remains a challenging task, however, and it also varies in its demands and requirements from project to project and journal to journal. The six practical tips presented here will help scholarly authors offer professional thanks and assign due credit thoroughly and succinctly while conforming to journal guidelines and achieving the intellectual elegance characteristic of the finest acknowledgements.
1. The best place to begin is with the publishing guidelines or author instructions of the targeted journal. Many journals will provide specific information about exactly where the acknowledgements should appear (usually at the end of a scientific or academic paper) and who should be included. Watch especially for information about contributions that merit acknowledgement, any acknowledgements that should appear in their own separate sections (those for financial support, for instance), and particular ways in which gratitude should be offered (in order of importance, for example, so that a mentor guiding the research would precede an editor who finalised the text). As a general rule, the acknowledgements for a scientific or academic paper should be concise, focus on intellectual, technical and financial contributions and support directly related to the research, give full names of individuals and groups, and briefly describe the exact nature of each contribution.
2. Always acknowledge any and all funding agencies that support a research project or one or more members of the research team. Funding agencies often have specific requirements regarding how they should be acknowledged, so be sure to read the relevant regulations. In the absence of precise instructions, providing in the acknowledgements section the name of the funding agency, the particular grant and its number (if appropriate) and (in the case of co-authorship) the name of the author who received it will suffice. Journal guidelines may also indicate exactly how and where financial support should be acknowledged. A separate section on funding may be necessary, for instance, or the journal may prefer standardised wording for financial information. These requirements must be balanced with those of the funding agency.
3. Although acknowledgements in general should be as brief as possible, do not hesitate to repeat acknowledgements and credits when necessary. If, for example, the journal requires a formulaic statement about financial support in a separate funding section, but the funding agency insists on different wording in the formal acknowledgements section, you will need to provide both. Remember that neglecting to acknowledge financial support as the funding agency requires is unlikely to encourage future support, even if your reason is based on journal requirements. The same principles apply to permissions and credits, so if a museum providing images asks for specifically worded credits in the acknowledgements section as well as a credit in each image caption, those requirements must be accommodated, and so must any preferences indicated by the journal, such as a full list of images and credits, even if that means trebling acknowledgements at times. Concise wording will help whenever you are free to deviate from set phrasing.
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4. Pay special attention to the style of your writing and the tone it establishes. Acknowledgements are often written in the first person (‘I would like to thank…’ or ‘We are grateful to…’) even when the rest of a paper may avoid that perspective, but shifts of voice within the acknowledgements are inappropriate, and a formal style using correct and complete sentences should be maintained at all times. You may feel personal gratitude, but the acknowledgements in a scholarly paper are important aspects of a professional document. Use that gratitude to construct elegant expressions of sincere collegial thanks that describe contributions with precision and avoid excessive flattery. The journal’s instructions may provide further advice on style, and reading the acknowledgements in articles recently published by the journal will give you a feel for the expected tone.
5. Review your research and your manuscript as you draft and polish your acknowledgements to be absolutely sure that you have not neglected to include anyone or any essential details. Even if your acknowledgements are allowed no more space than a single footnote, they are far more than a formulaic tip of the hat in the right directions. Acknowledgements establish your integrity as a researcher and outline your connections and collaborations. They can affect the intellectual impact of the researchers you thank, demonstrate the value of the agencies that fund your research and help your readers with their own research challenges. Whenever you receive constructive feedback and revise your paper, make sure you add acknowledgements for any new help.
6. Finally, spell ‘acknowledgements’ appropriately when you add the heading for your acknowledgements section. Most journals publishing in the English language state in their guidelines a preference for British or American English, and ‘acknowledgements’ is one of those words that vary in spelling between the two versions. The spelling I use here is British with an ‘e’ before the final syllable, but if American English is requested by the journal, make sure you remove that ‘e’ for the spelling ‘acknowledgments.’ As a heading, the word will be highly visible to journal editors who scan the manuscript, so it is wise to send the message that you read, understood and complied with the guidelines.
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Summary Writing Acknowledgements for Academic or Scientific Manuscripts
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Acknowledgements are not just thank you notes: A qualitative analysis of acknowledgements content in scientific articles and reviews published in 2015
Roles Conceptualization, Data curation, Formal analysis, Funding acquisition, Investigation, Methodology, Validation, Writing – original draft, Writing – review & editing
* E-mail: [email protected]
Affiliation École de bibliothéconomie et des sciences de l'information, Université de Montréal, Downtown Station, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Roles Conceptualization, Formal analysis, Funding acquisition, Methodology, Supervision, Validation, Writing – review & editing
- Adèle Paul-Hus,
- Nadine Desrochers
- Published: December 19, 2019
- Reader Comments
Acknowledgements in scientific articles can be described as miscellaneous, their content ranging from pre-formulated financial disclosure statements to personal testimonies of gratitude. To improve understanding of the context and various uses of expressions found in acknowledgements, this study analyses their content qualitatively. The most frequent noun phrases from a Web of Science acknowledgements corpus were analysed to generate 13 categories. When 3,754 acknowledgement sentences were manually coded into the categories, three distinct axes emerged: the contributions, the disclaimers, and the authorial voice. Acknowledgements constitute a space where authors can detail the division of labour within collaborators of a research project. Results also show the importance of disclaimers as part of the current scholarly communication apparatus, an aspect which was not highlighted by previous analyses and typologies of acknowledgements. Alongside formal disclaimers and acknowledgements of various contributions, there seems to remain a need for a more personal space where the authors can speak for themselves, in their own name, on matters they judge worth mentioning.
Citation: Paul-Hus A, Desrochers N (2019) Acknowledgements are not just thank you notes: A qualitative analysis of acknowledgements content in scientific articles and reviews published in 2015. PLoS ONE 14(12): e0226727. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0226727
Editor: Cassidy Rose Sugimoto, Indiana University Bloomington, UNITED STATES
Received: July 12, 2019; Accepted: November 24, 2019; Published: December 19, 2019
Copyright: © 2019 Paul-Hus, Desrochers. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Data Availability: Restrictions apply to the availability of the acknowledgement data, which is used under license from Clarivate Analytics. Readers can contact Clarivate Analytics at the following URL: http://clarivate.com/scientific-and-academic-research/research-discovery/web-of-science/ . References for the acknowledgement excerpts used are available in S1 Table .
Funding: APH was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada ( http://www.sshrc-crsh.gc.ca/ ): Joseph-Armand Bombardier CGS Doctoral Scholarships. ND was supported the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada ( http://www.sshrc-crsh.gc.ca/ ): Insight Development [grant number 430-2014-0617]. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
Competing interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.
Publisher's Note: The article involves the independent analysis of data from publications in PLOS ONE. PLOS ONE staff had no knowledge or involvement in the study design, funding, execution or manuscript preparation. The evaluation and editorial decision for this manuscript have been managed by an Academic Editor independent of PLOS ONE staff, per our standard editorial process. The findings and conclusions reported in this article are strictly those of the author(s).
The idea of using acknowledgements as a source for bibliometric indicators has been surrounding their study since the 1990s. In 1991, Cronin was already asking, “why are acknowledgement counts excluded from formal assessments of individual merit or influence, such as tenure review?” ([ 1 ]: p. 236). In 1995, Cronin and Weaver were encouraging the development of an Acknowledgement Index, based on the model of the Science Citation Index [ 2 ]. Almost two decades later, Costas and van Leeuwen [ 3 ] suggested that it was perhaps time “to employ this sort of tool to facilitate development of the so-called ‘influmetrics’” ([ 3 ]: p. 1659). For their part, Díaz-Faes and Bordons [ 4 ] highlighted that the inclusion of acknowledgement information in the Web of Science (WoS) was offering new avenues to study collaboration in science, going beyond traditional bibliometric indicators. McCain [ 5 ] went further and assessed the feasibility of a formal Personal Acknowledgements Index. And yet, despite decades of studies positioning acknowledgements alongside citations and authorship in what Cronin called the “reward triangle” [ 6 ], the consideration of acknowledgements as an indicator of scientific credit has not materialized and, at best, remains a proposal at the exploratory stage, or even simply a rhetorical idea (see [ 7 ] for a meta-synthesis of this literature).
At the same time, many studies have used funding-related indicators based on acknowledgement data (e.g. [ 8 – 11 ]). In fact, acknowledgement studies can no longer be separated from the financial aspect of scientific research. In 2008, WoS started to collect and index funding sources found in the acknowledgements of scientific papers. These new data were added by WoS in response to many funding bodies’ requirement to acknowledge the sources supporting research. Since then, large-scale acknowledgement data have been used as a bibliometric tool to follow the money trail of research and funding-related analyses have become a dominant trend in recent acknowledgement literature [ 7 ]. To this day, acknowledgements have been more closely related to funding indicators than to any other kind of scientific credit indicators.
The literature also underlines the elusive nature of acknowledgements, pointing to their form and tone, which have been described as sometimes flowery, personal, and even manipulative:
- Acknowledgements are permeated by hyperbole, effusiveness, overstatement, and exaggeration. ([ 12 ]: p. 64)
- Acknowledgements have been discussed as a form of patronage in scholarly communication, where the reality of the past may be purposefully glossed over and where the author could be looking toward the possibility of receiving future favours. ([ 13 ]: p. 4)
Furthermore, several studies mention the lack of standardization of acknowledgements as one important limitation hindering their analyses:
- The format of acknowledgement varies from field to field and from journal to journal. As noted, persons and institutional sources may be listed in the methods and materials section of an article or explicitly thanked in an acknowledgement section. ([ 14 ]: p. 506)
- Since there are no established formats for acknowledgements in papers, as there are for citations, expressions of gratitude vary greatly and sometimes it was difficult to identify the correct type of support, and even more difficult, the correct funding organization. ([ 15 ]: p. 238)
- The first source of simple error may arise through the misspelling of the names of funding bodies and potentially the names of grants and grant codes […]. A second difficulty will be that researchers will not correctly remember the funding bodies and grants that they used to support the research. ([ 16 ]: p. 368–369)
Acknowledgements may thus contain formally required statements of gratitude but have also been used as personal spaces of authorial expression, and as such, acknowledgement texts have been analysed as a genre per se. Several discourse and linguistic analyses have studied acknowledgements found in dissertations, theses, monographies, and research articles (e.g. [ 17 – 19 ]).
Acknowledgements analyses have also led to numerous typologies or classifications of the contributions acknowledged in scientific publications. In 1972, Mackintosh [ 20 ] proposed the first qualitative content analysis of acknowledgements based on a typology of the three main types of “services” acknowledged in scientific papers: facilities , access to data , and help of individuals . Twenty years later, McCain [ 14 ] offered a finer typology of acknowledgements, using five categories: access to research-related information , access to unpublished results and data , peer interactive communication , technical assistance , and manuscript preparation . The same year, Cronin introduced his first version of a six-part typology of acknowledgements ( paymaster , moral support , dogsbody , technical , prime mover , and trusted assessor ) which was created before encountering Mackintosh’s 1972 and McCain’s 1991 work [ 1 , 21 ]. Subsequent versions of this typology—developed with different collaborators through the years (namely McKenzie, Rubio and Weaver(-Wozniak))—include the peer interactive communication category borrowed from McCain [ 14 ] alongside moral support , access (to resources, materials and infrastructure), clerical support , technical support , and financial support [ 2 , 22 – 24 ]. Cronin’s model has since been adopted, adapted, and augmented in several studies (e.g. [ 25 – 30 ].
More recently, Giles and Councill [ 31 ] used natural language processing to extract named entities from more than 180,000 acknowledgements published in computer science research papers. In their content analysis, the most frequently acknowledged entities are classified into four categories: funding agencies , corporations , universities and individuals . Other studies have analysed the content of acknowledgements focusing on funding bodies and classifying them by sectors and subsectors (e.g. [ 10 , 32 – 35 ]).
Finally, linguistic studies have also used classifications of acknowledgements, focusing on the structure and patterns of dissertation acknowledgement texts (e.g. [ 18 , 36 – 40 ]) and on the socio-pragmatic construction of acknowledgements found in research articles and academic books [ 19 , 41 – 43 ].
Typologies and classifications aim to describe and categorize the content of acknowledgements in a synthetic manner. However, these taxonomies are based on small-scale samples of acknowledgements, the only exception being the work of Giles and Councill [ 31 ] which focused solely on named entities. More recently, a large-scale multidisciplinary analysis of acknowledgement texts was published by the authors and collaborators in PLOS One [ 44 ]. This analysis of acknowledgements from more than one million articles and reviews published in 2015, highlighted important variations in the practices of acknowledging. Focusing on the 214 most frequent noun phrases of that corpus, the study showed that acknowledgement practices truly do vary across disciplines. Noun phrases referring to technical support appeared more frequently in natural sciences while noun phrases related to peers (colleagues, editors and reviewers) were more frequent in earth and space, professional fields, and social sciences. Noun phrases referring to logistics and fieldwork-related tasks appeared prominently in biology. Pre-formulated statements used in the context of conflict of interest or responsibility disclosures were more frequently found in acknowledgements from clinical medicine, health, and psychology. However, this analysis also led to further questions concerning the interpretation of these noun phrases in their original context. Findings from this study showed that acknowledgements are not limited to credit attribution and that the numerous taxonomies and classifications found in the literature do not account for the current acknowledgement practices where pre-formulated statements of financial assistance and conflict of interest disclosures appear to be frequent [ 44 ]. Conclusions from this study raise further questions because these pre-formulated statements could have an influence on large-scale analyses that use automated linguistic methods, thus calling for a qualitative analysis of acknowledgements in the context of their use.
Objective and research questions
To improve understanding of the context and various uses of expressions found in acknowledgements, this study proposes to analyse their content qualitatively. More specifically, this study aims at answering the following research questions:
- In which contexts are specific expressions used?
- Do the contexts and meanings vary by discipline?
- What does a qualitative analysis reveal in terms of offering avenues for a more contextualized use of acknowledgements in large-scale studies?
Data and methods
Data for this study were retrieved from WoS’s Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-E) and Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), which both include funding acknowledgement data. It bears repeating that acknowledgments are collected and indexed by WoS only if they include funding source information [ 45 ]. Access to WoS data in a relational database format was provided by the Observatoire des sciences et des technologies ( http://www.ost.uqam.ca ). The full text of acknowledgements from all 2015 articles and reviews indexed in the SCI-E and the SSCI were extracted. The original corpus includes a total of 1,009,411 acknowledgements for as many papers.
In a previous analysis, we identified the 214 most frequent noun phrases of that corpus of acknowledgement using natural language processing [ 44 ]. For the purpose the present qualitative analysis, these 214 noun phrases were reduced to single words (e.g. “technical assistance” was reduced to “technical” and “assistance”) and redundant words were excluded, for a final corpus of 154 single words. Each single word could therefore be found in context, no matter its proximity to other single words; this offered us the possibility to code various types of occurrences of each word, whether it was part of a noun phrase or not.
The coding was done in two steps. First, an initial codebook was established inductively by one researcher to classify each of the 154 words and revised by a second researcher. All words were then coded by both researchers and their work was reconciled through “negotiated agreement” ([ 46 ]: p. 305, see also [ 47 , 48 ]). Second, 20 words were selected from the corpus of 154 words by purposeful sampling, where cases for study are selected because “they offer useful manifestations of the phenomenon of interest” ([ 49 ]: p. 40). Selection of the words included in the final sample was based on the quantitative analysis findings [ 44 ], which highlighted the potential importance of pre-formulated statements such as “The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript” (ut 000367510900041). Special attention was given to the words frequently used in those statements (e.g. analysis, collection, design, preparation). Sampling decisions were also oriented towards potential polysemous words which could lead to different contextual meanings (e.g. “assistance”). The 20 words of the final sample were coded within the context of their original sentences, extracted from acknowledgements. Words were thus used as a seed to refer back to full acknowledgement sentences.
The coding process entails data reduction where the many meanings of a sentence must be reduced or summarized under one main category [ 50 ] in order to reflect a practice or a phenomenon on a humanly manageable scale. The principles of saturation and qualitative sampling, whereby the sample is “conceptually representative of the set of all possible units” ([ 51 ]: p. 84), ensures that the phenomenon is reflected in its full complexity. Therefore, acknowledgements were stratified by discipline to reflect potentially different disciplinary uses of a word. Coding was then performed on this sample of 20 words within their original acknowledgement contexts, using the sentence as the unit of analysis and adapting the codebook in an iterative manner as finer meanings emerged.
The final codebook is composed of 13 categories, presented in Table 1 . The coding was done by one researcher and guided by the question, “in which context is this word used?” One category was selected for each sentence coded, aiming at qualifying the context in which a word is used. Each word of the sample was coded in a minimum of 15 original sentences per discipline, for all 12 disciplines, resulting in a total of 3,754 sentences coded. Results are reported in “thick description” using sufficient descriptions and quotations to allow “thick interpretation”, which means connecting individual cases to the larger context without going into trivial details ([ 49 ]: p. 503).
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The results of the coding process are summarized in Table 2 which presents, for each word of the sample, the percentage of all the occurrences attributed to a specific category. The analysis reveals the importance of three distinct axes: the contributions, the disclaimers, and the authorial voice. Moreover, disciplinary patterns bring another layer of analysis as divergent uses of the coded words emerge.
Acknowledgements constitute a space where authors can detail “who has done what” during the research process. Most often, authors use this space to thank colleagues that contributed to the research, as in the following example: “The authors thank Colleen Dalton and four anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments that improved the manuscript. We thank Fan-Chi Lin for providing FTAN measurements for comparison, and Anna Foster, Jiayi Xie and Goran Ekstrom for informative discussion.” (ut 000355321800013; earth and space). However, in some cases acknowledgements can also include contributorship statements from the authors in order to reflect the distribution of labour: “A.P., V.M. and V.P were involved in writing the manuscript. A.B.G and Y.A.K. were responsible for conception of the idea” (ut 000365808000014; clinical medicine).
The categories peer communication, investigation and analysis, materials and resources, and writing refer to specific types of contribution to research. These categories, taken together, represent half (50%) of the sample coded, confirming the importance of the contributions axis within the acknowledgements’ context. Moreover, some words are used most often to refer to specific categories of contribution, such as “access” which is used mainly in the category materials and resources (70% of the occurrences coded), “discussion” which is almost exclusively associated to the peer communication category (98% of the occurrences coded), and “assistance”, “experiment”, “help”, and “measurement”, which are all mainly associated to the category investigation and analysis (more than 60% of the occurrences coded).
Acknowledgements are not necessarily thank-you notes or recognition of responsibility. Financial disclosure, conflict of interest, disclaimer, and ethics account for more than 40% of the sample coded. In fact, the categories financial disclosure and disclaimer are among the most frequent in the sample, accounting respectively for 22% and 18% of all occurrences coded. The words “analysis”, “collection”, “decision”, “design”, “interpretation”, “preparation”, and “writing”, which could all seemingly refer to types of contributions, were in fact used in the context of responsibility statements in a substantial share of the cases analysed. Moreover, the words “decision”, “design” and “interpretation” also are mostly found in those kinds of responsibility disclaimers (in respectively 65%, 55% and 61% of the occurrences coded for these specific words).
Non-responsibility statements of funding bodies are the most frequent disclaimers. The following example presents a typical statement: “The funding source had no role in the design of the study, the analysis and interpretation of the data or the writing of, nor the decision to publish the manuscript.” (ut 000352854700010). However, we found declarations of non-responsibility for other types of contributors regarding some part of a research project, as in the following sentence: “The data collectors have no responsibility over the analysis and interpretations presented in this study.” (ut 000349266800011). Furthermore, disclaimers are not always non-responsibility statements and can, on the contrary, disclose the specific responsibility of an organization, such as: “This study was funded by Xi'an Janssen Pharmaceutical Ltd (Beijing, People's Republic of China) who was responsible for study design and data collection, analysis, and interpretation.” (ut 000356594900001).
Contributions and disclaimers crossovers
In many cases, the disciplinary stratification provided a further level of analysis. The words “analysis”, “assistance”, and “code” present clear disciplinary patterns where the coding highlights the distinction between the two main contextual uses: the contributions axis and the disclaimers axis. For instance, the word “analysis” is used primarily in the sample to describe an investigation and analysis type of contribution: “We are grateful to Nahoko Adachi for her help in conducting the statistical analysis” (ut 000353959400005; psychology). However, for biomedical research, clinical medicine, and health, “analysis” is used mainly within the category disclaimer (example: “The funding agencies did not have any role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript” [ut 000346498800018; clinical medicine]). Mathematics is a divergent discipline, where the dominant category for “analysis” is financial disclosure, as exemplified by the following sentence: “This work was supported by the International Max-Planck Research School, 'Analysis, Design and Optimization in Chemical and Bio-chemical Process Engineering', Otto-von-Guericke-Universitat Magdeburg” (ut 000362588800005; mathematics).
Similarly, the word “assistance” is generally used across disciplines to describe a contribution pertaining to the category investigation and analysis (example: “The authors thank S. Watmough and K. Finder for assistance with field sampling at Dorset, and A. McDonough for assistance with the classification of plant species” [ut 000347756900044; earth and space]), except in engineering and technology and in mathematics where “assistance” is used to disclose financial help (financial disclosure) in the majority of the cases examined, as in this sentence: “The financial assistance of the National Research Foundation (NRF grant: Unlocking the future- FA2007043000003) towards this research is hereby acknowledged” (ut 000350024900008; mathematics).
Two distinct contextual uses emerge for the word “code”: it is found most often within the disclaimers axis (financial disclosure category) in biology, biomedical research, chemistry, health, psychology and social sciences (example: “The research (project code: TSY-11-3820) was supported by the Research Fund of Erciyes University” [ut 000363704000011; biology]) while it is used to describe a specific contribution (investigation and analysis category) in the majority of the cases studied in earth and space, engineering and technology, mathematics, physics and professional fields (example: “We thank Prof. D. Karaboga and Dr. B. Basturk for providing their excellent ABC MATLAB codes to implement this research” [ut 000361400900022; earth and space]).
In the case of the word “review”, the coding process also highlights two dominant uses, varying with the discipline: in biology, biomedical research, earth and space, mathematics, physics, and in the professional fields, “review” is used primarily to describe some part of the peer communication process (peer communication category), as in the following example: “We would like to express our gratitude to the anonymous referee for his or her careful review and insightful comments, in particular, for pointing out a simple proof of Lemma 1.8.” (ut 000347714700003; engineering and technology). However, in clinical medicine, a different use is made of the word “review,” mainly to refer to the document per se (dissemination category), as in this example: “We are grateful to Dr. Mozzetta for critically reading the manuscript and all members of the lab for stimulating discussions during the preparation of this review” (ut 000352374400001; clinical medicine). For all the remaining disciplines (chemistry, health, psychology, and social sciences), both categories (peer communication and dissemination) appear frequently.
The word “data” also presents distinct disciplinary patterns in the sample coded. “Data” is used mainly within the contributions axis (materials and resources category) in biology, clinical medicine, earth and space, engineering and technology, and social sciences (example: “The authors thank Chesapeake Energy for providing access to the VSP data we used” [ut 000364362900035; earth and space]). Moreover, the word “data” refers to a task within the investigation and analysis category in an important share of the cases coded in chemistry, physics, professional fields, and psychology (example: “We thank all graduate research assistants who helped with data collection” [ut 000348882900009; psychology]). However, “data” is mainly found within the disclaimers axis in clinical medicine and health (disclaimer category) as in the following example: “The funding agencies had no role in the study design, data collection and analysis, the decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript” [ut 000345586900003; clinical medicine].
Although details of contributions and various disclaimers represent a substantive share of their content, acknowledgements also constitute a space for personal testimony. Notwithstanding the expectations of funders and ethical considerations, acknowledgements remain the subjective presentation of researchers’ practices and of research contexts. The authors are the voice of the acknowledgements and as such, the word “author” is one of the most frequent with more than 339,000 occurrences in our dataset. Moreover, even when the word “author” is absent, the concept is not. In fact, the authorial voice cannot be reduced to a single category, because it pervades the acknowledgements whether the authors speak in the first or third persons:
- “ I would like to thank Iliana Flores, Amy Harrison, and Shannon Kahlden for their help with data collection.” (ut 000361977300090)
- “ We would also like to thank two anonymous reviewers for the contributions to this manuscript.” (ut 000364777400031)
- “Also, our thanks go to Mr Vit Hanousek who designed an original computer tool suitable for making all the above-discussed measurements.” (ut 000346267600010)
- “The authors declare that they have no competing interests.” (ut 000369908800022)
- “The authors wish to express their appreciation to the National Iranian Copper Industry Company (NICICO) for funding this work.” (ut 000344595900005)
- “Schuster is profoundly grateful to all the families who hosted her but especially Hasidullah, his wife, son and grandson who were unfailingly patient and kind with the strange cuckoo in their nest and to the Leverhulme Trust for funding her time in Afghanistan.” (ut 000350285300006)
- “This review is dedicated to the memory of my father who was a source of inspiration.” (ut 000349637500005)
Furthermore, as exemplified by the cases presented above, the varied nature of the testimonies found in acknowledgements underlines a need for a “free space” within research publications. Alongside formal disclaimers and acknowledgements of various contributions, authors seem to require a more personal space where they can speak for themselves, in their own name, on matters they judge worth mentioning.
Discussion and conclusion
In the last decades, acknowledgements have become a “constitutive element of academic writing” ([ 52 ]: p. 160). However, the acknowledgement section is not a mandatory part of a scientific article and its content could certainly be described as miscellaneous, ranging from pre-formulated financial disclosure statements to personal testimonies of gratitude. Moreover, acknowledgements’ content and practices have evolved over time, just as citations and authorship attribution practices have changed following the transformations that are affecting the whole reward system of science [ 53 ].
Typologies and classifications of acknowledgements have been a consistent topic in the acknowledgement literature [ 7 ]. Most of these typologies and classifications revolve around the contributions axis of acknowledgements, focusing on “who gets thanked for what” and “what types of contributions are acknowledged”. This qualitative analysis of acknowledgement content confirms the importance of the contributions axis: acknowledgements are indeed still a space where authors can detail the division of labour within all collaborators of a research project. Our findings also reveal the importance of disclaimers as part of the current scholarly communication apparatus, an aspect which was not highlighted by previous analyses and typologies.
It should be noted that our analysis was restricted to a corpus of single words, sampled from noun phrases identified by correspondence analysis [ 44 ]. Further research could now seek to recombine those single words into noun phrases that present variations in meaning around a common concept, such as “assistance” (e.g. “technical assistance” and “financial assistance”). Furthermore, our coding of acknowledgement sentences was done using mutually exclusive categories, an epistemological choice. Given the fact that sentences can perform more than one kind of action, another avenue would be to use open coding and place occurrences in non-exclusive, mutually complementary categories.
Our qualitative results show that caution should be used when working with acknowledgement data. Large-scale acknowledgement data are limited to funded research, given that in the two main bibliographic databases, Web of Science and Scopus, acknowledgements are collected with the intended objective of identifying funding sponsors and tracking funded research [ 54 , 55 ]. The indexation of acknowledgements are thus limited to acknowledgements that contain some kind of funding information; this could in turn induce a potential bias toward funding-related aspects within acknowledgements’ content [ 45 ]. This indexation bias could then, at least in part, explain the importance of funding disclosures in the dataset analysed here, but also elsewhere in large-scale studies.
Yet, our findings show that acknowledgements cannot be described as having one single and homogeneous purpose; they can include expected, if not imposed, acknowledgement of financial resources as well as infrastructure alongside very personal testimonies of gratitude, all at the same time, as the following excerpt exemplifies: “Data presented herein were obtained at the W. M. Keck Observatory, which is operated as a scientific partnership among the California Institute of Technology, the University of California, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. […]. The authors wish to extend special thanks to those of Hawaiian ancestry, on whose sacred mountain we are privileged to be guests. Without their generous hospitality, the observations would not have been possible” (ut 000363471600015). On rare occasions, personal matters discussed in the acknowledgements become the center of attention, such as when an author proposed to his girlfriend in the acknowledgement of a paper: “C.M.B. would specifically like to highlight the ongoing and unwavering support of Lorna O’Brien. Lorna, will you marry me?” [ 56 ]. This particular paper was covered by many news outlets and online media sites when it was published, ranking in the 20 th position of the Altmetrics Top100 ranking for the year 2015. Such a case highlights the potential unexpected effect an acknowledgement can have on the visibility of a paper.
Clearly delimited and dedicated spaces for funding information, conflict of interest disclosures and contributorship statements are already implemented in some scientific journals (e.g. PLOS One , The Lancet , Science ). Nonetheless, such examples are far from the norm at the moment. In light of our findings, if an effort of standardization of acknowledgements is to be made, acknowledgements should at least include three main sections: ethics of research (financial disclosure, conflict of interest and responsibility disclaimers), contributions made to research, and personal testimony. These three indexation fields would, in turn, allow large-scale analysis of acknowledgements without the equivocality that currently characterizes these texts, yet without narrowing the space left for the authorial voice. The question remains as to whether there is a real wish within the scientific community to delineate such acknowledgement sections; if not, acknowledgement data are likely destined to remain simple tracking devices for science funding, the contributions and the authorial voices lost in large-scale analyses of scientific credit.
S1 table. references of the acknowledgement excerpts cited..
References are presented in order of in-text appearance.
The authors would like to thank Vincent Larivière for his comments and the three anonymous reviewers for their insightful suggestions and careful reading of the manuscript. This research was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada: Joseph-Armand Bombardier CGS Doctoral Scholarships (Paul-Hus) and, Insight Development [grant number 430-2014-0617] (Desrochers).
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- 48. Schreier M. Qualitative content analysis in practice. Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications; 2012.
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Characteristics of acknowledgements.
- Lists names of scientists who contributed to the research but did not provide substantial contribution that would justify authorship.
- Lists the funding sources (e.g., grant number, U.S. Government Agency) that made the research possible.
- Lists names of research centers, institutions and organizations where research was conducted.
One of the hallmarks of good science is to be open about the research and provide as much information as possible. This is also true when acknowledging the funding source for the research and names of scientists who contributed to the research. The Acknowledgements section typically appears last in a poster ( Figs. 2 and 9 ) and is where an author will list the people who contributed to the research, but did not provide substantial contribution to the work that they should appear as a co-author on the poster. The Acknowledgments is also the section of the poster where the authors list the financial support for their research. These can include grants, contracts, fellowships or scholarships. The name of funding agencies who provided support for the research should be listed in this section. For example, an author may write: “Financial support was provided by the U.S. National Science Foundation, grant number EAR-012345”.
Scientific Posters: A Learner's Guide by Ella Weaver; Kylienne A. Shaul; Henry Griffy; and Brian H. Lower is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.
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How to Write the Acknowledgements Section of Your Paper
- The Acknowledgements section names who helped or supported you, and how, during your research or study
- Use our checklist as a guide to drafting the Acknowledgements of your dissertation or journal manuscript, and
- Download our example Acknowledgements and use it as a template
The English language has a rich history of borrowing words from other languages, especially from Latin. Latin abbreviations such as ‘a.m.’, ‘p.m.’ and ‘CV’ have become part of our everyday vocabulary. Such abbreviations are also frequently used in academic writing, from the ‘Ph.D.’ in the affiliation section to the ‘i.e.’, ‘e.g.’, ‘et al.’, and ‘QED’ in the rest of the paper.
This guide explains when and how to correctly use ‘et al.’ in a research paper.
In this guide:
- 1) Meaning of ‘et al.’
- a) Table: Correct use of ‘et al.’ by style guide
- b) Unusual scenarios
A global requirement in scholarly coursework and research is that the intellectual and practical work, as well as the write-up, must be done entirely by the scholar or researcher.
For that reason, sources of any text, ideas, or data that were not your own need to be clearly cited. Any reproduced or adapted material also needs copyright permission. Similarly, if you were allowed to receive specific types of help during your study, you must declare that support in a special section titled ‘Acknowledgements’.
The Acknowledgements section reflects academic honesty and transparency. It shows your professionalism by publicly giving credit to individuals or groups who substantially contributed to your work, whether for free or paid for. It also shows that you know how to be a courteous member of your academic network. After all, you’d expect similar recognition for helping your peers in the future.
You need to declare support in an Acknowledgements section, in both:
- University degree projects that are submitted as theses or dissertations. In general, ‘thesis’ and ‘dissertation’ are the names of the project write-ups for, respectively, taught degrees and research degrees in the US, but the reverse order in the UK. (From now, just the word ‘dissertation’ will be used.)
- Research manuscripts that are submitted for publication in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, books, monographs, or chapters.
This guide will provide general advice on how to prepare the Acknowledgements section for dissertations and journal manuscripts. We’ll discuss the two document types according to the following six steps.
A. Writing the Acknowledgements for Your Dissertation or Manuscript
Step 1: List who directly helped you and how Step 2: List who else supported you and how Step 3: Take responsibility for your work Step 4: Consider research and publication ethics Step 5: Check document guidelines Step 6: Edit and proofread Putting it all together: A quick checklist
B. Example Acknowledgements for (1) a dissertation and (2) a journal article [ Free Download ]
The US spelling is ‘Acknowledgments’, whereas the UK spelling is ‘Acknowledgements’. The singular word can be used as the section heading if you’re thanking only one person, group, or institution.
Step 1: List who directly helped you and how
The first step is to transparently and accurately list specific external (non-author) contributions and support necessary to complete your work. Clearly identifying the source of materials or data is particularly important for other researchers wishing to repeat or build on your findings.
Provide full names of the people or institutions that helped you. Omit titles of people, such as Mr or Ms, but you may use Dr or Prof (or Dr. or Prof., depending on whether you’re following US, UK, or other convention in your report). If possible, include the institution of each person and, if required by a journal, also their job title and specialty or department.
Specific support that must normally be acknowledged in both dissertations and manuscripts include:
- Funding, sponsorship, or fellowship, including the name of the funding agency and award or grant number, and a statement of whether the funder was involved in the study and reporting (some journals require a separate funding section for this declaration)
- People, institutions, or organisations that gave access to facilities or equipment
- Study participants (e.g., interviewees, patients, staff of an institution)
- People who supplied special materials, reagents, or samples
- Providers of technical assistance or services (name the specific method and extent of help received)
- Source and permission to use specific datasets, or copyright permission to reproduce or adapt illustrations or other material
- People who collected data, transcribed or translated interviews, or performed data entry, coding, or statistical analysis
- People who discussed, critiqued, or advised on an earlier draft
- People who helped with language (e.g., translation, editing, proofreading) or artwork during report preparation
There are several options for acknowledging support in a formal and polite way in dissertations and manuscripts. A direct way is to start with a relevant verb or noun, such as ‘We thank X [person] for Y [contribution as verb+ing or noun]’, ‘We appreciate the Y [contribution as noun] of X’, ‘Thanks are due/owed to X…’, or, simply, ‘Thanks go to X…’:
We sincerely thank Dr Alan Pan (Department of Surgery, ABC University) for assisting with case selection.
I thank Prof Kate Chang of the University of ABC for permission to use and reproduce the survey instrument.
We appreciate the assistance of the staff of the ABC Division of ABC University, who recruited the volunteers.
Special thanks go to Mari Beer (ABC Editing Company) for useful comments on and for editing an earlier draft of this manuscript.
An indirect, and weaker, way is to use an adjective or a noun conveying thanks, such as ‘We are thankful/grateful to’ or ‘We express/extend our thanks/gratitude/appreciation to’:
I am grateful to the ABC University Core Research Unit for providing DNA sequencing services.
We extend our gratitude to Prof. Mike Jackson (Director, Centre for ABC, University of ABC) for providing the samples used in this study.
An even more indirect, and also ambiguous, way of thanking is to start with a verb of intention, as in ‘I would like to’, ‘I wish to’, and ‘I want to’:
We would like to thank the patients at ABC Medical Centre who participated in this study.
I wish to express my gratitude to Julia Punn for drawing the graph in Figure 2.
Use of the verb ‘acknowledge’ (as in ‘acknowledge X for Y’ or ‘acknowledge Y by/from X’) may imply a sense of obligation or reluctance:
I acknowledge the ABC Department at ABC University for permission to use the data.
We gratefully acknowledge the copyediting performed by Dr Ruth Cone, Associate Professor in English at the University of ABC.
The grammatical subject for thanking in the Acknowledgements can usually be ‘I’ (or ‘We’ for multi-authored journal manuscripts). If the publication style is to avoid personal pronouns, you can use ‘The author/s’ as the subject:
The author is thankful to Louis Grey of ABC Language Services for proofreading the manuscript.
Alternatively, the acknowledged party can be the subject of sentences using either the active or passive voice.
Jeff Smith, Head Librarian at ABC University, deserves special thanks for providing access to the university archives.
The staff at the Institute of ABC are thanked for providing technical advice and facilities throughout the project.
Funding is commonly acknowledged first or last and in a factual, impersonal way in the passive voice:
This study was supported in part by the ABC University Grants Committee (Award No. 123456).
Research funding for this project was provided by the ABC University Grants Committee (Award No. 123456).
Check your institution, publisher, or funder policy for types and extent of support allowed. For example, most universities strictly do not allow writing assistance, but might allow editing and proofreading assistance under certain conditions. Some journals consider that people who wrote drafts qualify as authors.
Step 2: List who else supported you and how
Journal manuscripts and dissertations commonly acknowledge indirect practical assistance and general intellectual support. Dissertations allow a wider range of indirect, non-research acknowledgements written in a more personal style. Examples of indirect support are given below:
- Academic or project supervision
- Obtaining research grants
- Academic discussion or training
- General administrative, logistic, or practical help
- Mentorship and inspirational lecturers, tutors, or other people
- Guidance or support in applying for the studentship
- General training, discussion, or advice (e.g., from teachers, the research group, support staff, or fellow students)
- Moral or emotional support from peers, friends, family, or even pets
- Spiritual or religious support
- Dedication to a family member, friend, or inspirational person
- Dedication to a community, study participants, readers, or other group
- Dedication to a deceased supervisor or close acquaintance such as a family member, friend, or colleague
- Dedications may go at the start or end of the Acknowledgements but may be limited to a deceased co-author of the manuscript
- Useful comments, or a specific useful suggestion, from one or more ‘anonymous reviewers/referees’
The typical order for the Acknowledgements is to mention direct then indirect support. Alternatively, the order can reflect decreasing importance of contributions regardless of category.
It’s best to group similar roles together. Introduce a series of acknowledgements in a list, followed by a colon. You may need to use semicolons as ‘super commas’ to clarify each contribution. For example:
This article has benefited from the contributions of the following people: my former primary supervisor, Dr A (ABC University), who obtained project funding and reviewed multiple drafts; Prof B (DEF University), who provided useful discussion on theoretical frameworks; and Dr C (GHI University), who tutored me in advanced research methods.
For dissertations , non-technical acknowledgements often use a semi-formal, expressive style with positive adjectives and adverbs:
Many thanks go to my supervisor, Prof Jane Wong, for advice, encouragement, and support throughout my degree. Without her immensely valuable and motivational feedback at weekly meetings and on multiple drafts, this dissertation would never have been completed.
Last but not least, I am indebted to my family for their unfailing love and unconditional support. Their strong belief in me kept me going through both thick and thin in my studies.
This dissertation is dedicated to my grandparents, Naomi Tanaka and the late Tom Tanaka. They are my constant guiding light.
In journal manuscripts , use a formal style. Don’t thank co-authors, and thank supervisors only if they don’t meet the journal’s authorship criteria. Examples of non-technical acknowledgements:
I am grateful to my supervisor, Prof Gladys Cho, for her encouragement and guidance.
We thank the two anonymous journal reviewers and the handling editor, Dr Andy Harris, for helpful comments on an earlier draft.
This article is dedicated to the memory of Dr Yvonne Koo, the third co-author, who died during the preparation of this manuscript.
To avoid repeating the same thanking phrase, use a variety of phrases, as well as signal words such as ‘In addition,’ ‘Furthermore,’ and ‘also’. You may end with the most meaningful or special contribution following phrases such as ‘In particular, I am most grateful for’, ‘Most importantly, I thank’ ‘I especially thank’, or ‘Finally, special thanks go to’.
Step 3: Take responsibility for your work
A sentence that is often included near the end of the Acknowledgements, particularly in the humanities and social sciences, is about accepting sole responsibility for the work, text, content, interpretations, opinions, or conclusions presented. This sentence commonly comes after thanking people who gave reviewing, editing, or proofreading assistance. It publicly removes blame from non-authors for any potential problems, deficiencies, or mistakes in the work and implies they may not necessarily agree with the content.
The statement also allows the author/s to explicitly claim that the final version is their own work. For example:
All opinions, omissions, and errors remain my own.
The responsibility for the content and any remaining errors remains exclusively with the authors.
In addition, authors may be required (e.g., by their funder) to explicitly say the content is entirely their own. For example:
The views and opinions expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of their institutions, employers, or funders.
Acknowledgements for dissertations can end, or begin, with a brief statement of the researcher’s personal reflections of their degree course, about how they have become a credible and mature member of the research community. For example:
This degree has taught me both academic and personal lessons, including how to be a responsible, resilient, and professional researcher.
Step 4: Consider research and publication ethics
You may be required to include specific additional statements in the Acknowledgements that are related to research and reporting ethics. Such declarations may be required in separate itemised sections of a manuscript or dissertation, but if there are no specific instructions, they can go in the Acknowledgments. The following are some examples:
- Ethics approval for conducting human or animal studies, and details of how human participants gave their informed consent
- Prior journal or online publication of the work or presentation at conferences; also for journal manuscripts: prior presentation in a dissertation/thesis
- Authors’ financial or non-financial conflicts of interest, also called competing interests (identify specific authors by initials); or say ‘All authors declare they have no competing interests’
- Conflicts of interest or sources of funding for anyone else who helped in the research or reporting (e.g., copyeditors paid for by industry sponsors)
- Authors’ specific contributions to the research and publication. The contributions may be organised by author (using initials) or by contribution, for example, according to categories in the Contributor Roles Taxonomy ( CRediT ) or authorship criteria of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors ( ICMJE ):
[By author] Author contributions. A.B.C.: study conception and design, data collection, analysis and interpretation of results, drafting. D.E.F: data collection, analysis and interpretation of results, drafting. G.H.I: analysis and interpretation of results, drafting. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
[By contribution] Author contributions. Conceptualisation: A.B.C.; Methodology: A.B.C.; Investigation: A.B.C., D.E.F.; Formal analysis: A.B.C., D.E.F., G.H.I.; Writing – original draft: A.B.C.; Writing – review & editing: D.E.F., G.H.I. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
Thank only people who genuinely helped you complete your work. Don’t use the Acknowledgements to ‘name drop’ or thank famous people who didn’t help. Journals usually require that all people who are named in the Acknowledgements have given their written permission to be thanked.
Step 5: Check document guidelines
Acknowledgments normally go at the front of a dissertation but the end of a manuscript; however, check relevant guidelines of your institution or journal for the exact placement. Also check guidelines for other content and formatting requirements, such as:
- If the Acknowledgements go on a new page, in a separate section, or in a footnote or endnote
- Types of activity to be acknowledged, or not
- Length of the Acknowledgements
- If only one paragraph is expected, or multiple paragraphs
- If subsections with headings are allowed
- Format of names, titles, institutions
- Whether or not reviewers can be thanked
- Order of support to be thanked (e.g., people before funding sources)
- Whether dedications are allowed
Academic books and monographs may have overall Acknowledgements at the beginning or end of the book, and specific Acknowledgements at the end of each chapter. The content can cover categories of acknowledgements found in both manuscript and dissertations but can be much longer and written in a more personal and expressive style.
Step 6: Edit and proofread
Your Acknowledgements are your opportunity to thank non-authors who helped you in your scholarly work. Acknowledgements follow certain conventions and patterns, and have academic, ethical, and social roles that contribute to the credibility of your work and to your identity as a competent researcher.
So, remember to carefully edit and proofread your Acknowledgements, ensuring the following:
- Keep the tone modest, sincere, and professional
- Fact-check names, titles, and current institutions of people you mention
- Remove any exaggerations or potentially offensive language
- Clarify any possibly ambiguous, misleading, or confusing phrases
- Check spelling, grammar, and punctuation
Putting it all together: A quick checklist
If you’ve followed our guidelines above, you should have an effective Acknowledgements section. Good luck with drafting your dissertation or manuscript! Reach out to [email protected] should you require any editorial assistance.
Example Acknowledgements [Free Download]
This downloadable Acknowledgements, in UK style, is customisable for dissertations and journal manuscripts and is annotated with helpful Comments. Please edit or replace text as needed and delete all Comments when finalising your text. Remember to use non-technical, jargon-free but formal language, and avoid abbreviations, or spell them out at first mention.
Our long-term partner, to deliver an online workshop for their professors and researchers. The workshop, held on 19 August 2021, was aimed at writing successful General Research Fund (GRF) and Early Career Scheme (ECS) applications.
When and how to use ‘et al’.
Our latest online workshop built on the success of face-to-face workshops we developed specifically for local universities. Over 30 faculty members joined the session, presented by our Chief Operating Officer, Mr Nick Case, to learn from our case studies on editing research proposals.
The response to our workshop, which included a constructive and insightful Q&A session, was very positive.Drawing on our extensive experience working with hundreds of Hong Kong researchers targeting the GRF and ECS every year, we used examples of poor and subsequently improved proposals to show the attendees how they can make their applications stand out.
Nick also focused on the “Pathways to Impact” section, a relatively new section that is often the most problematic area for applicants.
Wondering why some abbreviations such as ‘et al.’ and ‘e.g.’ use periods, whereas others such as CV and AD don’t? Periods are typically used if the abbreviations include lowercase or mixed-case letters. They’re usually not used with abbreviations containing only uppercase letters.
The response to our workshop, which included a constructive and insightful Q&A session, was very positive.Drawing on our extensive experience working with hundreds of Hong Kong researchers targeting the GRF and ECS every year, we used examples of poor and subsequently improved proposals to show the attendees how they can make their applications stand out. The response to our workshop, which included a constructive and insightful Q&A session, was very positive.Drawing on our extensive experience working with hundreds of Hong Kong researchers targeting the GRF and ECS every year, we used examples of poor and subsequently improved proposals to show the attendees how they can make their applications stand out. The response to our workshop, which included a constructive and insightful Q&A session, was very positive.Drawing on our extensive experience working with hundreds of Hong Kong researchers targeting the GRF and ECS every year, we used examples of poor and subsequently improved proposals to show the attendees how they can make their applications stand out.
Check out AsiaEdit’s professional research grant proposal editing service. Read more about our training services covering all aspects of academic writing tailored for local institutions.
More resources on research grant proposal writing: On-demand Webinars Preparing an effective research proposal – Your guide to successful funding application Preparing an effective research proposal – Your guide to successful funding application (Part 2)
Dr Trevor Lane is a publishing and education consultant and an elected Council Member of the Committee on Publication Ethics. He has 25 years of experience helping authors publish their research in peer-reviewed academic journals.
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- 02 June, 2018
- Academic Writing Skills
Most academic papers have many people who have helped in some way in the preparation of the written version or the research itself. This could be someone from a sponsoring institution, a funding body, other researchers, or even family, friends or colleagues who have helped in the preparation. These people need to be mentioned in the Acknowledgments section of the paper.
Acknowledgments section in different academic documents
The Acknowledgments section is present in both a paper and an academic thesis . For papers, the Acknowledgments section is usually presented at the back, whereas in a thesis, this section is located towards the front of the manuscript and is commonly placed somewhere between the abstract and Introduction . However, the exact location varies between each university , as each establishment possesses its own style guide for theses and student submissions. So, it is always worthwhile consulting your university’s academic style guide before writing a manuscript for undergraduate/postgraduate submission.
Acknowledgments section in theses
For academic theses, there is no right or wrong way to acknowledge people, and who you want to acknowledge is down to personal preference. However, the common types of people authors acknowledge in their academic theses include:
- Supervisor’s contributions
- Research group (especially if the thesis in question is a master’s and the work is helped along by a PhD student)
- Support staff (laboratory technicians, etc.)
- Any students who undertook side projects with them (e.g. final year undergraduates, summer students, master’s students)
- Administrative staff (there can be a lot of bureaucracy for thesis submissions)
- Referees that got them onto the course (postgraduate only)
- Funding bodies
- Any collaboration with industry and the people they worked with at said establishment(s)
Acknowledgments section in journal papers
Now, whilst university manuscripts can include any combination of the above (including all and none in some cases), academic publications in journals more commonly acknowledge the same kind of people/organizations, but again it is up to the author(s) what they feel should be acknowledged; not every piece of help needs to be acknowledged, just the most useful/prevalent help. Also, acknowledgments should be written in the first person .
Examples of whom and what should be acknowledged in a journal publication are listed below:
- Direct technical help (e.g. supply of animal subjects, cells, equipment setup, methods , statistics/data manipulation, samples, chemicals/reagents, analytical/spectroscopy techniques)
- Indirect assistance (topical and intellectual discussions about the research which can lead to generation of new ideas)
- Affiliated institutions
- Grant numbers
- Who received the funding (if not the author, e.g. a supervisor)
- Any associated fellowships
Whom to acknowledge - and whom not to acknowledge
- Other authors/contributors : It is not common practice for the lead paper writer (i.e. the person writing and publishing the manuscript) to acknowledge the other authors/direct contributors to the paper. Only those who are not recognized as authors may be thanked and acknowledged.
- Reviewers : Authors are also not allowed to thank reviewers personally, or those who inspire them but cannot directly receive their appreciation – although reviewers can be thanked if they are kept anonymous .
- Friends and family : Unlike university manuscripts, journal manuscripts should not include help and guidance from family and friends.
- Titles and institutions : Titles such as Mr, Mrs, Miss, etc. are not commonly included, but honorary titles such as Dr, Professor, etc. are. The institutions of the acknowledged people are usually mentioned.
For example, the following would not be acceptable:
We dedicate this work to the deceased Prof. Bloggs.
However, the following would be acceptable:
We acknowledge Prof. Bloggs for discovering the secret of anonymity.
Additional pointers for writing the Acknowledgments section
- The tone of the section should be in an active voice.
- Do not use pronouns indicating possession (i.e. his, her, their, etc.).
- Terms associated with specific companies should be written out in full, e.g. Limited, Corporation, etc.
- If the results have been published elsewhere, then this should also be acknowledged.
- Any abbreviations should be expanded unless the abbreviation appears in the main body of the text.
Below are examples of the Acknowledgments sections taken from a couple of papers from Nature Communications :
Duan L., Hope J., Ong Q., Lou H-Y., Kim N., McCarthy C., Acero V., Lin M., Cui B., Understanding CRY2 interactions for optical control of intracellular signalling, Nature Communications, 2017, 8:547
Xu Q., Jensen K., Boltyanskiy R., Safarti R., Style R., Dufresne E., Direct measurement of strain-dependent solid surface stress, Nature Communications, 2017, 8:555
Many people think that the Acknowledgments section of a manuscript is a trivial and unimportant component. However, it constitutes a vital means to ensure that all affiliated support for the paper can be duly and transparently mentioned. By acknowledging people for their efforts and contributions, you demonstrate your integrity as an academic researcher. In addition, crediting other people for their help can also increase their presence in the academic world and possibly help to boost their career as well as your own.
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Acknowledgments and References
This usually follows the Discussion and Conclusions sections. Its purpose is to thank all of the people who helped with the research but did not qualify for authorship (check the target journal’s Instructions for Authors for authorship guidelines). Acknowledge anyone who provided intellectual assistance, technical help (including with writing and editing), or special equipment or materials.
TIP: The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors has detailed guidelines on who to list as an author and who to include in the Acknowledgments that are useful for scientists in all fields.
Some journals request that you use this section to provide information about funding by including specific grant numbers and titles. Check your target journal’s instruction for authors for specific instructions. If you need to include funding information, list the name(s) of the funding organization(s) in full, and identify which authors received funding for what.
As references have an important role in many parts of a manuscript, failure to sufficiently cite other work can reduce your chances of being published. Every statement of fact or description of previous findings requires a supporting reference.
TIP: Be sure to cite publications whose results disagree with yours. Not citing conflicting work will make readers wonder whether you are really familiar with the research literature. Citing conflicting work is also a chance to explain why you think your results are different.
It is also important to be concise. You need to meet all the above needs without overwhelming the reader with too many references—only the most relevant and recent articles need to be cited. There is no correct number of references for a manuscript, but be sure to check the journal’s guidelines to see whether it has limits on numbers of references.
TIP: Never cite a publication based on what you have read in a different publication (such as a review), or based only on the publication’s abstract. These may mislead you and readers. Read the publication itself before you cite it, and then check the accuracy of the citation again before submitting your manuscript.
You should reference other work to:
- Establish the origin of ideas
When you refer to an idea or theory, it is important to let your readers know which researcher(s) came up with the idea. By citing publications that have influenced your own work, you give credit to the authors and help others evaluate the importance of particular publications. Acknowledging others’ contributions is also an important ethical principle.
- Justify claims
In a scientific manuscript, all statements must be supported with evidence. This evidence can come from the results of the current research, common knowledge, or from previous publications. A citation after a claim makes it clear which previous study supports the claim.
- Provide a context for your work
By highlighting related works, citations help show how a manuscript fits into the bigger picture of scientific research. When readers understand what previous studies found and what puzzles or controversies your study relates to, they will better understand the meaning of your work.
- Show there is interest your field of research
Citations show that other researchers are performing work similar to your own. Having current citations will help journal editors see that there is a potential audience for your manuscript.
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Part ii. writing the paper.
13. Acknowledgements and Appendices
No one is too big to be courteous, but some are too little. Ralph Waldo Emerson
1 Scientific research, like any other human activity, relies heavily on co-operation. An important part of this is the assistance we obtain from, or provide to, colleagues. This can take many forms: loan of equipment, help to learn a method, discussions of experimental plans, statistical advice, support in the field, and so on.
2 Often there is no payment, nor any reward, to the people who provide such help. Co-operation is commonly and courteously acknowledged by thanking the people who helped. The same rules apply: if in everyday life, you would say “thank you”, do this in your paper, too. The appropriate place in a scientific paper for such gratitude is the acknowledgements section. The Acknowledgements appear after the main text (Discussion, or Conclusions) and before the Reference List.
3 Who should appear on this list? People who helped you in significant ways to complete the work reported in the article. This includes technicians, field assistants, authorities who gave permission or provided access to resources, colleagues who commented on the manuscripts, or helped you in significant ways. However, this is not really the place to thank your partner, or the coffee lady in the department, even though you feel you could not have completed the work without their support/ coffee. Buy them a bouquet of flowers or a bottle of wine instead, and say thanks in person.
4 Be aware that this is not a “surprise present”, so the person to be thanked should know about it, and agree to it in advance. Show the wording, too. There are good reasons for this. The person may feel your acknowledgement is too much — or too little. Scientists often co-operate “on the ground”, but their superiors are not always happy about this. Maybe the person concerned would have preferred to remain anonymous, or maybe she thinks she deserves to be a co-author.
5 The Acknowledgements section is also the place to record sources of financial support. Most funding agencies require that you mention them in any publication that emerges from work done with their support. Here, you should also note that you complied, if necessary, with regulations, obtained necessary permissions, and so on. If the work forms part of your MSc or PhD thesis, this should also be indicated here.
6 Many workplaces, field stations, and programs have a running, numbered list of publications. All publications obtain a number, and these forums request that you list this number on your paper. Normally, it appears in your acknowledgements (the other, less desirable, option is in a footnote on the first page of the paper).
7 Authorship decision principles can be (and sometimes are) mentioned in this section (Tscharntke et al., 2007). If there is no section devoted to detailed author contributions, they should also be listed here.
8 Before publication, several people will probably read and comment on the manuscript. It is also courteous to acknowledge them. It does not matter whether you accepted their suggestions (you are not obliged to accept any of them) — you should thank them for their time spent reading your work. There is no need to qualify your gratitude, nor the advice. It would be silly to “thank XX for her brilliant suggestions”. It goes without saying that whatever any reviewer’s opinion or advice, and irrespective of your acceptance or rejection of them, the responsibility for the content of the paper is solely that of the authors’.
9 As for the style, be as brief as possible, to the point and direct. One should not “wish to thank” but simply “thank” someone.
Appendices and Extra Detail
10 Whatever does not belong strictly to the flow of argument in the paper, but is still important to the paper as a whole, can be presented as an appendix, or a series of appendices. This can include the description of complicated procedures, listing of programs, more detailed descriptions of models used, and long lists of large bodies of data. Several journals have established a freely accessible data repository, or data archive. These are linked to the website of the journal. Journals encourage their use and this will probably become more widespread in the future. Researchers might also make their data openly available separately from the journal (for example, in an institutional repository). Printed appendices are destined for extinction.
11 In any case, if you want to include appendices to your paper, be prepared to have to defend their inclusion. The desire to include an appendix is not certain to result in a fight with the editor, but have a good justification as to what purpose the appendix serves, and why you want it to be included. Editors are always on the lookout to shorten papers.
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Formatting the acknowledgements. As a rule of thumb, the acknowledgement section should be a single short paragraph of say half a dozen lines. Examine the target journal for the format: whether the heading appears on a separate line or run on (that is, the text follows the heading on the same line). Check also whether the heading is in bold or ...
The acknowledgements section is your opportunity to thank those who have helped and supported you personally and professionally during your thesis or dissertation process.. Thesis or dissertation acknowledgements appear between your title page and abstract and should be no longer than one page.. In your acknowledgements, it's okay to use a more informal style than is usually permitted in ...
Acknowledgement in Research Paper: Example 4. I would like to express my deep gratitude to Professor *** and Professor ***, my research supervisors, for their patient guidance, enthusiastic encouragement and useful critiques of this research work. I would also like to thank Dr. ***, for her advice and assistance in keeping my progress on schedule.
The acknowledgment section helps identify the contributors responsible for specific parts of the project. It can include: Authors. Non-authors (colleagues, friends, supervisor, etc.) Funding sources. Editing services, Administrative staff. In academic writing, the information presented in the acknowledgment section should be kept brief.
The acknowledgment is a formal printed statement that recognizes individuals and institutions that contributed to the work being reported Contributions to the researchshould be acknowledged Non‐research contributions are generally not appropriate for acknowledgment in a scientific paper but may be in a thesis
For the example below, the goal is to record all relevant contributions to the research and paper in a single brief Acknowledgements section of 500 words or less - a set of parameters that would suit the acknowledgement requirements or expectations of many academic and scientific journals and even fit into a footnote or endnote if necessary.
Van Way, C.W. (2007) Writing a Scientific Paper. Nutrition in Clinical Practice. 22: 663-40. PubMed ID: 1804295. What to include: ... It is considered good manners to include an acknowledgements section; Additional resources: Annesley, T. M. (2010) The discussion section: your closing argument. Clinical Chemistry. 56(11):1671-4. PubMed ID: 20833779
The writing style of acknowledgments sections may vary according to the journal, but generally, these sections are written in the first person and are as succinct as possible. A statement about conflicts of interest, citation of previous publication in poster or abstract form, and other information may also be included in this section, again ...
For the example below, the goal is to record all relevant contributions to the research and paper in a single brief Acknowledgements section of 500 words or less - a set of parameters that would suit the acknowledgement requirements or expectations of many academic and scientific journals and even fit into a footnote or endnote if necessary.
Writing the acknowledgements section for a scientific or academic paper intended for journal publication remains a challenging task, however, and it also varies in its demands and requirements from project to project and journal to journal. ... In the absence of precise instructions, providing in the acknowledgements section the name of the ...
Acknowledgements in scientific articles can be described as miscellaneous, their content ranging from pre-formulated financial disclosure statements to personal testimonies of gratitude. To improve understanding of the context and various uses of expressions found in acknowledgements, this study analyses their content qualitatively. The most frequent noun phrases from a Web of Science ...
The results section contains the data collected during experimention. The results section is the heart of a scientific paper. In this section, much of the important information may be in the form of tables or graphs. When reading this section, do not readily accept an author's statements about the results. Rather, carefully analyze the raw data ...
The Acknowledgements section typically appears last in a poster ( Figs. 2 and 9) and is where an author will list the people who contributed to the research, but did not provide substantial contribution to the work that they should appear as a co-author on the poster. The Acknowledgments is also the section of the poster where the authors list ...
A. Writing the Acknowledgements for Your Dissertation or Manuscript. Step 1: List who directly helped you and how. Step 2: List who else supported you and how. Step 3: Take responsibility for your work. Step 4: Consider research and publication ethics. Step 5: Check document guidelines. Step 6: Edit and proofread.
The Acknowledgments section is present in both a paper and an academic thesis. For papers, the Acknowledgments section is usually presented at the back, whereas in a thesis, this section is located towards the front of the manuscript and is commonly placed somewhere between the abstract and Introduction .
Van Way, C.W. (2007) Writing a Scientific Paper. Nutrition in Clinical Practice. 22: 663-40. PubMed ID: 1804295. What to include: ... It is considered good manners to include an acknowledgements section; Additional resources: Annesley, T. M. (2010) The discussion section: your closing argument. Clinical Chemistry. 56(11):1671-4. PubMed ID: 20833779
Acknowledging others' contributions is also an important ethical principle. In a scientific manuscript, all statements must be supported with evidence. This evidence can come from the results of the current research, common knowledge, or from previous publications. A citation after a claim makes it clear which previous study supports the claim.
3.2 Components of a scientific paper. Nearly all journal articles are divided into the following major sections: abstract, introduction, methods, results, discussion, and references. Usually the sections are labeled as such, although often the introduction (and sometimes the abstract) is not labeled. Sometimes alternative section titles are used.
All publications obtain a number, and these forums request that you list this number on your paper. Normally, it appears in your acknowledgements (the other, less desirable, option is in a footnote on the first page of the paper). 7 Authorship decision principles can be (and sometimes are) mentioned in this section (Tscharntke et al., 2007). If ...
Additionally, an acknowledgements section should be included to acknowledge research advisors/ partners, any group or person providing funding for the research and anyone outside the authors who contributed to the paper or research. General Tips. In scientific papers, passive voice is perfectly acceptable. On the other hand, using "I" or ...
Widespread storage decline in large global lakes from October 1992 to September 2020. Lake water storage (LWS) trends for 1058 natural lakes (dark red and dark blue dots) and 922 reservoirs (light red and light blue dots). Recently filled reservoirs after 1992 are denoted as light purple dots.