Recently I was reading a paper where the authors include their evaluation as a part of their contribution. In general the paragraph I am referring to was something like this:

Our contributions are a,b,c,d and e

Where e describes the evaluation.

In evaluation section, is about the performance evaluation of the proposed system. So the are running some simulations and benchmarks to show in which of the cases they perform better than the state of the art tools.

The evaluation (as a process) is not containing something novel, except from some modifications they did to adapt the benchmark / evaluation framework to their needs.

So, is this considered a 'contribution'? Is it 'good' to list the evaluation in the list of contributions?

  • 4
    What do the authors evaluate? If they evaluate a previously published method's performance on a new dataset or in a new environment, this definitely is a contribution. If they refer to their last teaching evaluation, less so. Apr 10, 2015 at 13:42
  • @StephanKolassa They are evaluating the system that they are presenting in the paper. Mainly they are doing something like performance evaluation, on what they presented in the aforementioned a,b,c,d.
    – Athafoud
    Apr 10, 2015 at 13:45

2 Answers 2


There are no official standards for what constitutes a valid use of the term "contribution". It's intrinsically a vague word, and authors can use it in many ways. It would be inappropriate to list something as a research contribution if there's absolutely nothing at all original about it, but a small amount of originality could be enough (and opinions can differ as to where the threshold is). Of course it would be foolish to highlight the less original parts of a paper as contributions when this might distract readers from the more original parts, but that's a different issue.

You haven't given enough details to say much about your particular case, but making small modifications to an evaluation framework could be considered a small contribution.

  • I am in the same 'page; as you. And as you say, the inclusion of the 'evaluation' in the contributions list it distracted me and made read many times the evaluation part to find if the is any originality. Regarding the lack of the details, I ll say that is more or less on purpose, since I am trying to avoid targeting / revealing that specific paper.
    – Athafoud
    Apr 10, 2015 at 14:53

Both gathering data and analysis of data can certainly be valid and reportable contributions. Certainly my coauthors and I tend to report them thus in synthetic biology papers, where both involve a lot of hard work. It would only not be a significant contribution if the actual work involved was trivial. Otherwise, the importance of the evaluation to the paper should allow the reader to make a reasonable judgement of weight of contribution.

  • I am getting your point, however in the paper I am referring the evaluation can be considered trivial, except from this 'humidification' process, which is by the way not documented.
    – Athafoud
    Apr 10, 2015 at 14:55
  • 1
    1) If you have enough information to make that judgement, it's still probably reasonable to report (though if an author only was involved in evaluation, you might question the propriety of their authorship), and 2) There might be an awful lot of unreported evaluation that was required to get to the point where they could do the simple evaluation that was finally reported.
    – jakebeal
    Apr 10, 2015 at 15:01

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