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Under which circumstances can a scientific publication have a dedication?

It is not uncommon for theses (Bachelor, Master, PhD, ...) to have a dedication. Furthermore, some big publications in high impact journals happen to have a dedication.

However, what about regular journals? Can I include a dedication in the 'Average Journal of okay results'? It is assumed that I will not have a top journal hit publication in the near future. Would such a request be turned down immediately?

  • Okay, it could be a very good publication in a very good journal too, but not necessarily one of the few invite-only journals. – Ambicion Jun 4 '17 at 20:34
  • A dedication, or a personal acknowledgement in the Acknowledgements section? – Jessica Burnett Jul 25 '19 at 2:47
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(Mathematics:) I have dedicated a few journal articles "to the memory of" recently deceased colleagues (one in a "special issue journal" for this purpose, but others in regular journal issues). I just included the dedication in the submitted paper, and no-one complained about or commented on it, and it appeared in the published version.

Regarding placement: The place of the dedication seems to depend on the journal style; in most cases I encountered it was between the author list and the abstract.

Actually, the first time I dedicated a paper I put the dedication into the acknowledgment section, the (copy) editor then moved it to the proper place. From that time on, I placed the dedications there myself, using in LaTeX (amsart class) the command \dedicatory{Dedicated to the memory of N. N. (1930--2010)}. So far all journals left the dedications there; apart form one who moved it to an own section between the abstract and the acknowledgment section.

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I would be interested to know what high-impact journals you have seen dedications in, because it would be quite foreign in all of the ones that I have encountered.

In my experience, dedications almost always only appear in stand-alone works, such as books and theses, or an explicitly dedicated collection such as a Festschrift, rather than in individual articles of a conference or journal.

There are exceptions, but they are unusual, and I would expect many journals to reject a dedication as "not complying with prescribed format" unless it is buried in the acknowledgements section.

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    @zibadawatimmy I suspect that most journals I have dealt with would discard a typical "up front" dedication as being not in keeping with their required format. You might be able to sneak it into the acknowledgements, which are much less constrained, but it would still come across as quite odd. – jakebeal Jun 4 '17 at 22:19
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    Our co-author passed away some time after the initial submission. After several months of back-and-forth review we were accepted by PRB (here's the STEM discipline). Once accepted, we asked the editor to include in the acknowledgements section "We dedicate this manuscript to so-and-so, etc." – LLlAMnYP Jun 4 '17 at 22:35
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    I've seen at least one paper in a good journal that was dedicated to somebody on the occasion of a significant birthday (probably 60th; I'd be more specific it I could remember more). – David Richerby Jun 4 '17 at 22:45
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    Or an entire issue of a journal might be dedicated to a person, a Festschrift. – Jon Custer Jun 5 '17 at 12:57
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    It does happen. (Though maybe when you're a Fields medalist you can get away with more things that other people?) – user9646 Jun 5 '17 at 14:07
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I have dedicated a few journal papers to my colleagues too and by now I have at least one dedicated to me. There is nothing wrong with dedications, epigraphs, etc. in general if you exercise some common sense, tact and taste when including them. In the worst case scenario, the editors will suggest removing them (as happened to one of my epigraphs that was a bit too controversial; it is still present in the arXiv version, but not in the published one), so you risk nothing by trying. Just make sure that the dedication you write conveys exactly the meaning you intended (I saw a couple of rather ambiguous ones) and go ahead with it.

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This paper was dedicated to the memory of an individual and was published in a high-impact journal: New Journal of Physics is ranked 7th in the Google ranking of journals listed by impact factor.

The dedication is indicated by an asterisk at the end of the title that sends to a footnote on the first page and there is also a line in the acknowledgements before the bibliography.

I see mostly such notes to the memory of people who passed away but I have seen people dedicating papers to their wives, their newborn child etc. As far as I know, editors are usually ok to include a short comment in the acknowledgment sections. As a referee I always take these comments to be well intentioned and don’t have issues when they are short.

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