Throughout your academic career – and your reading of this blog, for loyal readers – you’ll have likely learned a lot of the ins and outs of crafting good quality manuscripts, section by section. It goes without saying that these are the most important parts of any manuscript you plan to submit for publication; however, today we thought we’d look at a smaller and often overlooked section of your manuscripts – the Acknowledgments.
Acknowledgments may seem like an unimportant part of your paper, but there are a few key things to look out for to ensure you give editors the information they need, and, of course, that the appropriate people get acknowledged.
Thank important contributors. This list could be quite extensive depending on the project, so try to limit your list to people that played key roles in the work but didn’t quite qualify for authorship. This could include colleagues that provided important reagents or tissue samples, lab assistants or statisticians, for example.
Include grant information. Unless specifically requested to be placed in its own section by the journal you’re submitting to, grant information – including numbers – should be listed in the Acknowledgments section.
List the role of the sponsor. Some journals ask for an explicit statement about this while others don’t specify either way, but it’s good practice to include the specific role of the sponsor in the conduct of the study and decision to publish, if applicable.
State any conflicts of interest. Increasingly journals are asking for this information in its own section but you are still likely to come across submissions where you should put these details in the Acknowledgments. Even if none of the authors have conflicts of interest to declare, a statement to this effect should be noted.
Avoid excessively flowery language. Thanking a contributor is enough; it is not necessary to include language like “we would like to graciously thank the esteemed Dr. Wong.” Overly ornate wording distracts the reader and can negatively affect how they look at your work.
Watch out for the ‘e’! A minor thing to watch out for, the presence or absence of the second ‘e’ in the word Acknowledgments will be journal-specific. Generally speaking, the ‘e’ is likely to be included in journals using British English, while it is more commonly omitted in those using American English. However, this may not be 100% consistent so it’s always best to check in the Instructions for Authors when beginning to prepare your manuscript.