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I wrote a paper intended for a conference in computer science. Before submission I hired an expert to review and edit my paper. Do I need to mention them? If so, in what way? As a collaborator? In a footnote? In a special "Thanks" section? Would it be unethical not to mention them at all?

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    This may depend on the amount of editting done. – mmeent Sep 11 at 8:37
  • Can you lookup what publishers require? In particular, what they require with regards to authorship. If a publisher requires submissions to be the sole work of the authors, then this would preclude the use of an editor. I doubt that's the case, but such rules are worth looking into. – user2768 Sep 11 at 8:37
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    An expert in your field or in editing? – Azor Ahai Sep 11 at 15:06
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    @AzorAhai: Divide it into two subquestions: 1. an expert in my field, 2. an expert in editing. – Evan Aad Sep 11 at 15:28
  • @user2768 "If a publisher requires submissions to be the sole work of the authors" Is this really a thing? Never seen such a policy, and I'm in CS. – lighthouse keeper Sep 11 at 17:06
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The answer will depend on the significance of the editing done.

The one extreme would be significant intellectual contributions to the work -- for example, shaping the overall narrative of the paper, making major decisions on the information being emphasized and de-emphasized, and organizing how the information is packaged into different sections and parts. Such editing would qualify for authorship. The ethical thing to do would be to offer authorship to the editor. If she declines, it would be necessary to at least mention her in an acknowledgement.

The other extreme would be sentence-level editing, like correction of typos and grammar quirks. Such editing would surely not quality for authorship, and it would be up to you if you mentioned the editor in the acknowledgement.

The middle ground between both extremes really is somewhat of a gray area.

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If so, in what way? As a collaborator? In a footnote? In a special "Thanks" section?

In the acknowledgements section, if at all.

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    I would definitely mention it. "The author wishes to thank X for his/her useful comments on a draft of the paper". I would think it's OK not to mention that X has been paid. – Federico Poloni Sep 11 at 8:28
  • @FedericoPoloni It is unclear whether X commented, they did edit, that's clear. (I don't know how editorial services work. I presume work is handed over and edited with minimal input from the authors.) – user2768 Sep 11 at 8:35
  • One could use a wording such as this: "The author wished to thank X for his/her useful contributions to this manuscript" – Dohn Joe Sep 11 at 17:06

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