Do I need permission to thank someone, even if I said “all mistakes are our own”?

Do I have to make sure that the person being thanked must read the paper, or, it is fine if he just discussed about the general ideas and the administration stuffs of the target journal?

As a student I don't know how does a specific journal work so I asked a lot of questions. I think I need to ask for the permission before acknowledging, but, if it is unnecessary, then I will be just wasting the time of a super busy professor.

I know that in Math people almost never ask for permissions but in life science people need permissions. I think theoretical economics follows the culture in mathematics?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ the rule of thumb I learned from my advisor is to be generous with giving thanks - thank anyone who read the paper or whom you approached to give you opinion or help on parts of it. If the paper is presented at a workshop/conference you dont need to name everyone individually but write thank to the participants of those workshop/conferences in general. However, don't abuse thanks either, if someone did not see the paper or did not even know they were commenting dont thank them. Also, “all mistakes are our own” is for politeness - even if you got code that you use for your method from someone $\endgroup$ – 1muflon1 Nov 20 '20 at 10:14
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ else you still thank them and claim ownership of all mistakes even if you actually did not caused them (although it can be argued that if you let someone else's mistake slip into your work you are responsible) $\endgroup$ – 1muflon1 Nov 20 '20 at 10:14

In short, no it is not necessary. I have never asked anyone for permission and I have never been asked. The people I thank usually have not read my paper (rarely anyone does, to be honest), but we have had chats on visits or after seminars or conferences. If you thank someone make sure they are familiar with the paper. Certainly include someone who presented a formal discussion at a conference.

By all means, never include someone in your thank-you note who you have not talked to. People will see this as a strategic way to influence referee selection. However, if someone made great comments that greatly influenced the direction of the paper, name them. It's free and makes people happy.

  • $\begingroup$ I know of one important case (in economics) where the author that published a single author paper in a top5 journal has thanked researchers who did not agree with the content of the paper. Nothing happened, because this study was interdisciplinary and those researchers are from another field. Nobody found out until the paper was already published. A few years have passed by, and the paper, with the acknowledgements, is still there. Not even a refutation paper has been written $\endgroup$ – Fuca26 Dec 1 '20 at 20:46
  • $\begingroup$ @Fuca26 I guess, this is because acknowledgement is not endorsement? $\endgroup$ – High GPA Mar 31 at 14:05
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @High GPA - It is not endorsement, but it looks like one. You put big names in the acknowledgements--even people who trashed your paper, nobody knows what they actually think but it looks as an approval. The author relies on the low probability that someone would ever ask them what they think. Also, the editor would think carefully before approaching those acknowledged people as referees. $\endgroup$ – Fuca26 Mar 31 at 14:12
  • $\begingroup$ @Fuca26 A lot of people tactically put people trashed their paper on the acknowledgement list to dodge unfriendly referee, and hide friends from the lists so friends are more likely to be the referee. $\endgroup$ – High GPA Mar 31 at 14:16

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.