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When the review process is double-blind, I guess (although I have not read this anywhere) that acknowledgements should not be written in the submitted paper, as this might break anonimity. They should only be inserted into the camera-ready version, after the paper is accepted.

What is the custom when the review process is not double-blind? Should I write the acknowledgements in the submitted version, or wait to the camera-ready version?

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  • I'm not entirely clear on how acknowledgements would break anonymity. If a reviewer is one of the acknowledged people, he'll know who he discussed the topic with, anyway. Are you afraid of the reviewer contacting one of the acknowledgees and asking for the name of the author? In such a case, the acknowledgee should certainly refuse to answer. Commented Jul 22, 2015 at 18:45
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    @StephanKolassa Acknowledgements frequently contain grant information as well, and a grant number de-identifies quite precisely, since can typically be looked up to determine who are the PIs and other key personnel for the project.
    – jakebeal
    Commented Jul 22, 2015 at 19:15
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    @StephanKolassa: The name of the author(s) is the most specific, but by no means the only information that is hidden by double-blindness. Knowing the name of a helpful colleague can provide hints about the research group; knowing a supporting company or organization can provide hints about the city where the research team is located; knowing the name of a funding agency can provide hints about the country of origin of a submission, all of which should ideally remain unknown in a double-blind review process. Commented Jul 22, 2015 at 19:15
  • In case it wasn't obvious, I meant "de-anonymizes" not "de-identifies" in my comment.
    – jakebeal
    Commented Jul 22, 2015 at 19:29

4 Answers 4

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I agree with the other answers here. In particular, I follow the advice of @jakebeal where he suggests to put the acknowledgments in earlier on so you can account for the space it takes up.

I would like to raise an additional consideration for putting acknowledgments in earlier on: when your funding agency requires you to do so.

For example, in the US, certain Department of Defense (DoD) components (such as DARPA) require the authors of any publications (or manuscripts to be submitted for publication) stemming from funded research work to include an appropriate "distribution statement" at some location in the paper. In my subfield, authors typically put this statement in the acknowledgment section.

You might ask:

Why not just add the distribution statement in after the paper is accepted for publication?

Well, manuscripts to be submitted for publication must first be "released" for publication by the DoD, and if the distribution statement is not listed in the paper, then your paper is not approved for "public release." (You can get into trouble with the DoD if you try to submit your paper prior to obtaining public release approval).

Bottom line:

Check with your funding agency to see if they have any constraints on the acknowledgment section (or first-page footnote, etc.) of your paper, and at what stage of the publication process it is required.

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If it's not double-blind, then it generally doesn't matter whether the acknowledgements are in the initial version or not: the reviewers will simply ignore them.

When there are page limits involved, however, I like to put the acknowledgements in as early as possible. That way, their size is built in from the beginning and we don't have to figure out how to fit the extra space during the revision.

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    +1. There's also nothing to prevent you from inserting a redacted acknowledgement: "I'd like to thank _________ at _______ and _______. This project was funded by the ________ with grant #_________ and does not represent the opinion of the _______ government."
    – RoboKaren
    Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 0:22
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    @RoboKaren: just be sure the number of underscores doesn't help identify which government or which grant number format you're redacting :-) Commented Aug 9, 2016 at 0:45
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For a review process that is not double-blind, it can be ok to not put the acknowledgement in the submitted version. As long as it is in the published version, it will be fine. I have done that many times.

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In mathematics, reviewing isn't double-blind, and I always put acknowledgements in from the start. Partially this is because papers circulate as preprints, but also, if the referee is someone you should have acknowledged, then it will put them in a better mood if you do so.

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    I think if the reviewer is close enough to the paper to be acknowledged then s/he should not be a reviewer. But that might vary between fields, I guess.
    – Miguel
    Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 0:46
  • @Miguel Yes, that's certainly different in (pure) mathematics. My impression is that being thanked for your comments on a draft of the paper increases your chances of being asked to referee it. Presumably, the editor thinks that, since you've already looked at the paper, it will be relatively easy for you to referee it. Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 1:26
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    @Miguel You can go on thinking that, but good luck avoiding the total collapse of the peer review process in mathematics. There's too much mathematics and too few people doing it; it's the same reason that double-blind review is totally impractical (well, that and preprint servers). Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 12:54

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