Acknowledging Support, Assistance, and Contributions of Those Who Are Not Authors
5.2.1 Acknowledging Support, Assistance, and Contributions of Those Who Are Not Authors
In the Acknowledgment, authors identify important sources of financial and material support and assistance and give credit to all persons who have made substantial contributions to the work but who are not authors.1,2 Contributions commonly recognized in an acknowledgment include the following:
General advice, guidance, or supervision
Critical review of the manuscript
Critical review of study proposal, design, or methods
Statistical assistance or advice
Technical assistance or advice
Research assistance or advice
Acknowledgments should identify anyone who has made substantial intellectual contributions to manuscripts but does not meet the criteria for authorship, including medical writers and author’s editors1-4 (see 5.1.2, Authorship Responsibility, Guest and Ghost Authors). For example, JAMA and the Archives Journals require the corresponding author to identify such assistance in the Acknowledgment. JAMA also discloses the affiliation and funding of individuals who contribute to manuscripts but who are not authors. Such disclosure is supported by the American Medical Writers Association3 and the European Medical Writers Association4 as it is more helpful to editors, reviewers, and readers than are vague statements about writing or editorial assistance that give no indication about financial relationships. As an example, the Acknowledgment might read as follows:
Additional Contribution: We thank Joan Smart, PhD, of Medical Bibliometrics Inc, Boston, Massachusetts, who received payment from the study’s sponsor, for research and editing assistance.
JAMA requires the corresponding author of all manuscripts to sign an acknowledgment statement (on the authorship form) that reads as follows:
I certify that all persons who have made substantial contributions to the work reported in the manuscript (eg, data collection, analysis, or writing or editing assistance) but do not fulfill authorship criteria are named with their specific contributions in an acknowledgment in the manuscript.
I certify that all persons named in the Acknowledgment have provided me with written permission to be named.
I certify that if an Acknowledgment section is not included, no other persons have made substantial contributions to this manuscript.
Nonspecific group acknowledgments, such as “the house staff,” “the nurses in the emergency department,” or “patient participants” are often used to thank groups of individuals. However, if specific people are identifiable, permission to include them would be needed (see also 5.2.8, Permission to Name Individuals). Acknowledgment of unidentifiable groups, such as “the anonymous peer reviewers,” is not informative, and with current policies encouraging greater transparency, acknowledging any anonymous contributions is best avoided.