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I have a submitted a paper to a peer-reviewed top journal. It is in the second review round and as far as it seems, it will be accepted. I am considering to write an "acknowledgments" section (after the conclusion) in which I thank those researchers with whom I corresponded and whose work I cite. It would be five researchers of four teams. The correspondences were just 1-2 e-mails in each case, so I think it is not required of me to acknowledge those correspondences, but it might be nice to do so.

However, for this question, I would like to disregard the "nice-ness" and ethical aspects and focus on the "self-marketing" aspect: How does it make me look if I mention those five researchers? Does it look more like I am a good collaborator with a pro-active attitude, who gets in touch with people without being shy? Or does it make me look like I am someone who is not able to get stuff done himself, asking other to do his work for him?

Or missing something else that I should consider?


The text I am considering is

We thank [...] for the fruitful correspondence by answering the questions we had regarding their respective work. We thank [...] for the provision of their respective code.


The reason I am writing the acknowledgement only now is because now the page limit is not an issue anymore, while it was for the first submission.

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  • It does not hurt to say thank you, even for the most minor thing. So and so inspired X. I've seen authors acknowledge their pets. Sep 26, 2022 at 22:56

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Your motivation for acknowledgement should be that people deserve acknowledgement for their contributions to your paper. If you have any other motives, you're doing it wrong.

Don't acknowledge people just so that you look like a team player. It might end up looking like you're trying to prop up your work by attaching other peoples' names to it; they may rightfully be offended if you do so (as @Snijderfrey recommends, you can avoid this by asking permission to include someone in the acknowledgements; see also Is it necessary to ask permission before including someone in the acknowledgements of a research paper?). Don't use acknowledgments when citations are appropriate instead, or it'll look like you don't understand what a citation is. You never need an acknowledgment for something you read in a published work: cite instead.

Don't fail to acknowledge people just so you look independent. It might seem to the people who've helped you that you don't appreciate them and they may not want to help in the future, or it may look like you're taking credit for work that isn't yours.

Thankfully, there's a fairly broad set of norms regarding acknowledgement so you do not need to obsess over each paper and each person with who is acknowledged (and there are lots of resources here to help you decide).

In papers I've been involved with the acknowledgement section was always included with the manuscript sent for peer review. I would not assume that page limits/word counts/etc do not apply to additional sections unless the journal specifically says so, in which case it's puzzling to me that they'd count the words/length in an original submission. (of course, every submission system is different and there may be convenience reasons that they do this/recommend waiting to add the section later)

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  • Your motivation for acknowledgement should be that people deserve acknowledgement for their contributions to your paper. and Don't fail to acknowledge people just so you look independent. Sure, here, I have a case where both would be fine - I don't think I have to acknowledge everyone I talk to, but here I could give some love if I want, I guess. You never need an acknowledgment for something you read in a published work: cite instead. Obviously, but I covered that in my post. I would not assume... the first submission was soft page limited, the subsequent once not.
    – Make42
    Sep 26, 2022 at 15:09
  • @Make42 I'll restate my first sentences: "Your motivation for acknowledgement should be that people deserve acknowledgement for their contributions to your paper. If you have any other motives, you're doing it wrong."
    – Bryan Krause
    Sep 26, 2022 at 15:10
  • They did not contribute to my "contribution" - otherwise they probably should be authors - but they contributed indirectly by helping understand their work.
    – Make42
    Sep 26, 2022 at 15:12
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    "...like you're trying to prop up your work by attaching other peoples' names to it; they may rightfully be offended if you do so." True, and this can be avoided if you ask the respective people before including them in the acknowledgements. I think that would be good practice anyway. Sep 26, 2022 at 15:23
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    @Make42 StackExchange isn't a discussion forum; Snijderfrey was commenting on a specific part of this answer, it's not appropriate to redirect a new unrelated question to them.
    – Bryan Krause
    Sep 26, 2022 at 15:55

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