I understand why people mention the grant agency, but what's the point in specifying the grant number in a paper's acknowledgments?


The authors acknowledge the support of the U.S. Army Research Office under grant number W911NF-10-1-0533

This work was supported by the National Key Basic Research Program of China via grant 2014CB340503

I am mostly interested in the field of computer science > machine learning, and English-speaking venues.

  • 10
    If you had 10+ grants, wouldn't it be relevant which one supported this paper?
    – Tom Church
    Aug 8 '16 at 23:56
  • 14
    Are you aware that many funders require it and you want to know why? If not the answer is the funder says so.
    – StrongBad
    Aug 9 '16 at 0:52
  • 8
    To make it easier to Google for research supported by a particular grant, of course.
    – JeffE
    Aug 9 '16 at 2:05
  • Any answer or comment besides it is required by the funding agency is someone guessing or reputation fishing. Aug 9 '16 at 16:16
  • It makes it easier for pork-cutting Congressional staffers and others to identify what came out of what taxpayer-funded grant, and allows comparison between the grant application and its results.
    – WBT
    Aug 9 '16 at 22:15

The agencies that provide this funding often require such acknowledgement. NSF does. The format, more or less, is up to the agency. I don't know why they do it, but I believe they want readers to be able to find the programs that fund the work so that other potential applicant can find future versions of the program and possibly apply.

Edit: Look at Part J of NSF's grants guide for their format

  • 2
    Could it also be to aid internal lookup in case of correspondence/enquiries/FOI/subpoena/whatever? OK, they probably keep records of papers they've funded, so they could look it up that way if they're ever asked about the grant that funded a particular paper. But by the same argument nobody needs to quote "your ref" in correspondence, since the recipient can probably figure it out given enough time with their card-index ;-) Nevertheless, people can be quite keen for their own numbers and codes to be used where relevant! Aug 9 '16 at 0:14
  • @SteveJessop, definitely. It could also be required by the US Congress that the US agencies track the outputs of their funding.
    – Bill Barth
    Aug 9 '16 at 0:31
  • 3
    @SteveJessop I think one issue is they don't know what papers they've funded, because the fund proposals rather than papers. Yes, you're supposed to tell them in reports, but they may want to check this, or people external to the grant agency may want to know.
    – Kimball
    Aug 9 '16 at 0:32
  • 5
    @Kimball: "Yes, you're supposed to tell them in reports, but they may want to check this" - indeed - actually, I presume some sort of a verification function; researchers list papers based on a given grant in their report, and to make sure such researchers do not list the same papers for many different grants, the papers themselves also have to uniquely "link back" to the grant. Aug 9 '16 at 6:49
  • @Kimball, I'm not convinced that Program Officers or their IT systems have the time or ability to do much checking or verification. Maybe on a case-by-case basis, or when the reports are deemed insufficient. Also, there might be an interest by some reviewers to take a look at prior awards and their results when reviewing new grant proposals.
    – Bill Barth
    Aug 9 '16 at 13:20

The funding agency is responsible for making sure that grant money was used according to the respective Call for Proposals and its terms and conditions. In case of public funding (e.g. government-funded) research the funding body reports to a higher authority, e.g. the government or a governmental department.

Publications are a key outcome of research. Besides the obligation to clear a manuscript before publication and having funding agency and/or grant number acknowledged, handing in a copy of the publication for them to file offers such proof of the projects results. Having the grant number on it simplifies the bookkeeping for the higher-ups that might not be subject matter experts.

Not questioning the conduct and honesty of scientists... but having the grant number explicitely on the manuscript further aids the avoiding of double / multiple funding as it clearly states under which grant the presented research was conducted.

  • 5
    "avoiding of double funding" - or at least of multiple funding from ridiculously many grants at a time. Double funding, i.e. partial funding by as few as two grants at a time, is not at all unusual. I have published various papers whose acknowledgments contained a statement like "This research was funded in part from grant ... and in part from grant ... .", usually in cases where the two first authors (who were most closely involved in the research and paper creation) were paid from two different grants. Aug 9 '16 at 6:52
  • @O.R.Mapper, you're right.
    – Ghanima
    Aug 9 '16 at 7:48

I understand why people mention the grant agency, but what's the point in specifying the grant number in a paper's acknowledgments?

As @BillBarth states, some funding agencies require that you list the grant number in the acknowledgment (or first-page footnote, etc.).

For example, from past experience with the US Department of Defense (DoD), several of my papers had to go through a public clearance process with the DoD. On a few occasions, I had sent my manuscripts to the DoD to be cleared, and those times that I did not include the grant number in my paper, I received instructions from the DoD that I had to include the grant number in the acknowledgments first, before they would clear my manuscript for public release, preventing me from submitting my paper for peer review.


It's a "bibliographical" issue. Agencies want people to know which agencies and which grants supported which papers, for the benefit of people applying in the future for grants.

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