Let us say you have a paper drafted up and asked someone to comment on it. If this someone replied to you with compliments but with no suggestions on possible improvements, is it academically conventional to mention this someone's name in the acknowledgement of the paper?

I intend to do that, verily. However, my concern is that I am not sure if doing this is appropriate, for doing this may be not fair to other people who made substantial suggestions and whose names are also listed in the acknowledgement.


3 Answers 3


Acknowledgements are mostly yours to do with as you please---in my experience in computer science, at least, there are few hard and fast rules.

For my own part, I typically keep my acknowledgements relatively spare, reserving them for people who made significant and meaningful contributions, but who did not rise to the level of authorship. As such, I tend to not acknowledge anonymous reviewers, people who gave feedback that didn't result in large changes in the manuscript, etc. You should feel free to be more liberal in your acknowledgements if you choose, however---the only real limitation is if either a) your manuscript may have length limitations or b) you do something that can be taken as silly (which can be OK for a thesis but generally not so much in a peer-reviewed manuscript).

It is pretty much always the case, however, that acknowledgements say what a person is being acknowledged for. If you say that, then people will know how to calibrate the contribution. If you have a hard time figuring out what to write, that may be a sign that the person didn't do enough to be acknowledged.


As long as you decide (or are obliged for different reasons) to include one person, you can grade the acknowledgement.

"I would like to thank A for providing substantial improvements to the paper, B for her caeful proof-reading (I thank her for the missing "r", as well as @DavidRicherby). We are grateful to C for his thoughtful comments, to D who provided insight and expertise, to E for assistance in the shaping of the paper, to F for voting the answer up. Last but not least, we are indebted to the reviewers for their insightful remarks.

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    Was "caeful proofreading" deliberate? Aug 27, 2015 at 16:26
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    Indeed, I made this mistake once in actual acknowledgements. I hope this is the only one on the post Aug 27, 2015 at 17:37

In general I would not acknowledge someone who read the paper but did not contribute suggestions or changes. After all, I often post to the arXiv and so I've had hundreds of readers by the time the final version goes to press.

That said, if you do want to acknowledge this person C who provided compliments, perhaps consider something like "We thank A for valuable discussions, B for suggesting an improved proof of proposition 2, and C for her encouragement".

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