I know that it is general practice to include a footnote on papers acknowledging research assistants who have contributed to the project. I am wondering, however, if any guidelines or accepted practices exist for how to determine which assistants should be acknowledged where. In general, since it is low cost to acknowledge assistants, it makes sense to be pretty generous in erring on the side of acknowledging. But, in the interests of acknowledgments being honest reflections of those who contributed to the project, what about some of these particular cases?
- Research assistant (RA) is hired. Does a small amount of work, but not enough to be useful, and then quits.
- RA works hard on project, but is very poor at communicating. As a result, RA goes incommunicado for a while, comes back at the end of the period having put together a work product that is of zero use to the project.
- Open-ended research project begins. At start of the project, it is not clear which avenues of research / aspects of the project will turn in to productive papers and which will not. RA does good work on an avenue of research that turns out to be a dead end. Another avenue of research is more successful and results in a paper. RA contributed nothing directly to the successful avenue, but did contribute to the larger open-ended project.