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In this situation there is a co-author that wants their current funding source added to the acknowledgements section because they edited the paper that others wrote. The research in the paper is something the co-author worked on as a graduate student about 5 years ago, but they have since become an assistant professor elsewhere and no longer contribute to the paper's research.

The separate funding source they used several years ago to contribute to the data analysis for the paper is already listed in the acknowledgements.

The paper did not need major editing, but for the sake of scope - if the paper had needed major edits would that change the answer?

Never had this type of interaction before. I'm wondering if putting that acknowledgement would implicitly say that the co-author's current funding also funded the research in the paper. Maybe "Co-author was funded by Blank to edit the manuscript" is a middle ground?

The source of funding in question is the co-author's country's government - although unclear if it's a research grant or co-author's salary as a professor. In either case is it acceptable to "use" this money to edit manuscripts from previous work done and funded elsewhere?

First paper & graduate student, to finalize the context.

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In general, I would be pragmatic about this. If the contribution of the Assistant Professor is large enough to warrant co-authorship (which is a different story altogether, and not the question here), it should be large enough to mention their funding source. Presumably they have actually had to invest some amount of time into the manuscript to warrant co-authorship, and if they "used" their own university-funded research time or some external project time to contribute to the paper is really their own business.

Clearly this does not mean that you need to pretend like the entire work was funded by your co-authors grant, but a clause in the acknowledgements such as "Prof. X acknowledges the financial support provided by XYZ" is common and completely appropriate.

I'm wondering if putting that acknowledgement would implicitly say that the co-author's current funding also funded the research in the paper.

Only if you word it poorly.

Maybe "Co-author was funded by Blank to edit the manuscript" is a middle ground?

This sounds very uncommon to me. I would only write it like that if you also explicitly list who paid for all other parts of the study (which would be highly unusual in my field).

In either case is it acceptable to "use" this money to edit manuscripts from previous work done and funded elsewhere?

That's a question between your co-author and their funding source, and shouldn't really be your concern.

  • I guess in my field providing data or data analysis alone are grounds for co-authorship. Thus, this co-author had no input on this paper between doing data analysis 5 years ago (on an NIH/NSF grant) and editing the paper now (on a direct government grant - like DOE/DOD). The data analysis is one part of the paper - not all of it - by the way. I'm just worried about attributing this work as being funded by the government of a country (and not a body like the NSF/NIH). – user2403531 May 21 at 14:50
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    @user2403531 If you have a particular journal in mind for submission, you might check their guidelines for authorship criteria. Contact an editor if you can't find them or are uncertain. And as this answer says, saying something like "Author X was supported by Grant 123AB" makes it clear that it was Author X who was supported by that source, and not the other author(s). Journals of late have been taking a very politically neutral stance to things, neither endorsing nor presuming any government or political stance. – zibadawa timmy May 21 at 16:05
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    Saying "partially supported" may be more appropriate in this case, and is usually a safe default phrasing. – zibadawa timmy May 21 at 16:12
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If you have valid reasons to be worried about the implications of such insinuations (something I'm not sure about) - you can write it a longer comment describing two phases of the work - the "research" you mentioned to which said co-author has not been part of, and the writing work. Now, I wouldn't say co-author X was only involved in writing, or only involved in editing, but perhaps something like:

Lab research was conducted at [Institute name] between [start year] and [end year] and supported by [funding sources here]. Work on this submission has received additional support from [the editing co-author's funding source here]

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There are several questions being asked here. One primary question is:

I'm wondering if putting that acknowledgement would implicitly say that the co-author's current funding also funded the research in the paper.

Before worrying about this, it might be worth asking what the consequences would be if someone were to make this mistake. (I can't answer that question.)

  1. Presumably the primary grant that funded the work has reports, and the reports for that grant will properly attribute this paper.

  2. Presumably the co-author will not lie when reporting to their granting agency about what their grant supported on the paper. (But, it may be listed on the grant report.)

  3. If the grant is a recent grant, and the work is clearly older than the grant, then it would be clear that the particular grant couldn't have funded the research.

A secondary question is:

is it acceptable to "use" this money to edit manuscripts from previous work done and funded elsewhere?

  1. You'd have to look at the terms of the grant to determine this. In the US, professors are often funded in the summer by grants, and they can sometimes be interpreted rather broadly. So, if the professor worked on the paper during the summer, then it would be correct to list the paper as supported by the grant.

As for advice on what to do:

I would hesitate to list the activities that were funded individually - at least in my field this sort of detail is never/very rarely provided.

But, perhaps you could divide the funding by the people who were funded by it: Authors X, Y, Z were funded by Grant A, author X was additionally funded by Grant B. Author W was funded by Grant C. This might give the delineation you are looking for.

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I would add it. Normally, just the funding of the actual "work work" of the data collection would be adequate, but if someone is asking for it (and being funded now), go ahead and do it. I would as a primary author be inclined to list both my old and new sources. This person's claim seems a little more tenuous, but acknowledgements are cheap. Lean to the side of giving them, not the opposite.

I don't think it will hurt you. Don't think it is dishonest. And maybe the fellow needs to show current activity or the like. This is a much lower step than if the fellow was asking for extra co-authorships.

And nobody is going to nitpick which source paid for what parts. So I would not be so worried that people parse the sources of funding versus implied amounts of work. Don't get too granular.

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