As a student I wrote a paper for a course. I am now preparing the paper for submission to a journal. My teacher will get a general acknowledgment for the discussions we had on the topic as a footnote on the paper's title (as is the custom in my field). There are a couple (~3) very specific pointers the teacher gave me, such as a relevant piece of literature. These are not vital for the flow of the paper but are useful pointers for the reader; they appear in footnotes. Should I add a sentence to such a footnote such as "I am grateful to John Doe for this reference"? Or is it kind of implicit in the general acknowledgment at the start of the article that the acknowledged persons have contributed such details?

  • The reader doesn't care if J. Doe pointed you to a reference, helped with the software, or made you coffee. A general acknowledgment for fruitful discussions or so is sufficient.
    – user68958
    Aug 4, 2018 at 14:15

2 Answers 2


I've often seen specific points included along with general thanks in a single footnote, something like "I thank my supervisor, John Doe, for numerous helpful discussions and, in particular, for calling my attention to reference [7] and for simplifying the proof of Lemma 2."


Perhaps it would depend at least a bit on how important that contribution was to your thinking and to the direction taken in the paper. In some cases it could point out the general importance of an idea or another paper. If a small comment led to a "forehead slapping moment" it is more important than a general hint. But much of that can be expressed in a general ack also.

Also, for an undergraduate, I would lean more toward expressing such things than I'd suggest for a grad student. Still not essential, though.

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