Let's talk Acknowledgement Sections - Who would make it to yours? — R Voice

Let's talk Acknowledgement Sections - Who would make it to yours?

Andrea Hayward
Andrea Hayward Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 454 admin
edited August 20 in Academic Careers

Today, I want to talk about the Acknowledgement Section - but in a slightly different way than what we're used to. I'm sure we've all either seen or have had to write an Acknowledgement Section for a Master's thesis, a dissertation, or a journal article.

BUT, what if you had a write an Acknowledgement Note for your entire academic journey - right from when it started, until today? Who are those colleagues, teachers/professors, mentors, etc. who would absolutely get a special mention and gratitude in the Acknowledgements Section of your academic journey?


Comments

  • Shruti Turner
    Shruti Turner Member Posts: 300 ✭✭✭✭

    I love this positive post for a Monday morning :)

    The acknowledgements in my PhD thesis went to my supervisor, a couple of PhD buddies I had writing/motivation/whine groups with through lockdown, participants and of course my number one supporter...my husband.

    In papers, I think I've only ever acknowledged funders, to be honest. I've never really known who else to acknowledge as the contributors are the authors. As I write, yes participants will be in there for ones where I've been dependent on others coming in to help with my research.

    I've never been in this position, but I'd acknowledge anyone who has read over my paper to sense-check it if they haven't contributed enough to be an author, anyone I've chatted to who has helped shaped that research a bit, but again not enough to be an author.

  • Andrea Hayward
    Andrea Hayward Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 454 admin
  • Andrea Hayward
    Andrea Hayward Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 454 admin

    @Shruti Turner thanks so much for sharing! I love your list 🙂

    Especially loved that you mentioned support from PhD buddies - very often motivation and having someone to vent/whine to are taken for granted because it's generally the kind of support you can't quantify. But it's so important and the person who is usually motivating you or being a sounding board is taking time of their lives and genuinely cares. So I think acknowledging this is very meaningful ❤️

    I also like that you've said you'd like to add someone who has helped sense-check your paper, but isn't an author on the paper. Again, this would be a person who is spending time to help you without really gaining anything from it (like authorship, perhaps) and they didn't really have to. So I guess I liked this for similar reasons as the one I've mentioned above. I'd classify both cases as Academic Kindness.

    One question - Do you usually get written consent from the folks you mention in your acknowledgements section?

  • Omololu FAGBADEBO
    Omololu FAGBADEBO Member Posts: 37 ✭✭✭

    @Andrea Hayward, this is profound. In my life's journey, I have come across a myriad of people, who, at one point or the other, have contributed immensely to shape my life. In all my acknowledgment, I always recognize God, who has been able to direct me right from the womb and preserved me. I live every day as a grace. I also acknowledge my parents, who God used as the vessel to ring me to life. It is the living that can be an academic! Then, I will acknowledge my academic mentors, such as my professor who supervised my Master's degree and launched me into the world of teaching and research. Then, my colleagues, whose words of encouragement gave me the lifeline, and the other colleagues who did not see anything good in me, because their negative and hostile disposition enabled me to rediscover myself and influenced my change of location. And my research colleagues and networks of friends across the globe.

    One thing at a time

  • Gustavo Arluna
    Gustavo Arluna Member Posts: 99 ✭✭✭

    @Andrea Hayward wow, what a deep and hard question for me. I think I cannot think in a quick answer, but while I am writing this I can only think in GOD (I saw many acknowledgement sections mentioning GOD) and my family that supported me throughout my journey. But it's sad to say that I felt alone during my whole career journey at college. I mean, I had many colleagues and teachers that helped me in certain times, but they weren't so relevant for mentioning them in an acknowledgement section. And I cannot think in an inspirational mentor or something like that.

    Well, I guess I'll keep thinking about this all the week. :)

  • Adaora Anyichie - Odis
    Adaora Anyichie - Odis Member Posts: 67 ✭✭✭

    Thank you Andrea for mentioning my name. Guide, Co - Guide, a former coursemate that helped with my ethical approval, Mentor, and my school authorities. My Husband, children, Sweet Mum, Siblings, all my family and friends

  • Kristína Krajcikova
    Kristína Krajcikova Member Posts: 4

    There are quite a lot of people who may be included in the acknowledgement for a thesis. But especially for the papers, I always include everyone who took care of taking and storing the samples from a hospital for me while I had the lab practices with students.

  • Andrea Hayward
    Andrea Hayward Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 454 admin

    @Adaora Anyichie - Odis thank you for sharing. I love that you've mentioned your family and friends. Even though they might not be able to fully understand or relate to the struggles and challenges of academic life, I'm sure their support is very encouraging and comforting ❤️

  • Andrea Hayward
    Andrea Hayward Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 454 admin

    @Omololu FAGBADEBO thank you for such a deep share 😊 I think we can all learn a thing or two from you about acknowledging support, guidance, and the little acts of kindness (however small it may seem) that have helped pave our paths in some way, and then conveying meaningful gratitude and appreciation.

    I really appreciate that you've also mentioned those colleagues who didn't have anything nice to say about you. It's very interesting that you're looking at their criticism and hostility as an avenue that led you to re-examine something within yourself and indirectly led you towards growth. This has definitely given me something to think about. I don't think I'm at a place where I could possibly apply it yet, but I'll surely carry this with me for future interactions. Thank you 🤗

  • Andrea Hayward
    Andrea Hayward Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 454 admin

    @Gustavo Arluna thank you for sharing whatever came to mind so far. I understand that a question like this one would require a long, hard think, so I'll patiently wait :)

    I'm also sad to hear that from a colleague and mentor POV, you felt alone all through your college journey. From what you've described about the current collaborative setting in which you work, I really hope that you no longer feel like this and that you have all the support you need.

  • Andrea Hayward
    Andrea Hayward Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 454 admin

    Thanks for adding to this discussion @Kristína Krajcikova! 🙂

    Your comment has raised 2 questions in my mind:

    1. I'm very interested to find out what kind of research you're involved in. (My apologies if you've already shared it before on R Voice, and I've forgotten 😥)
    2. Who would usually be involved in helping you with storing samples from a hospital? Possibly a coauthor or someone else involved in the research project with you? Or could it simply be a helpful colleague?
  • Gustavo Arluna
    Gustavo Arluna Member Posts: 99 ✭✭✭

    @Andrea Hayward thank you! I must say that now I am doing my final project with a very supportive team. We are a 4 people team. And I feel that I can be helpful to them and viceversa. Just to remark at least one positive but very important thing. 😊

  • Kristína Krajcikova
    Kristína Krajcikova Member Posts: 4

    I am involved in clinical biochemistry and work with various types of biological material (everything from blood and urine to tears and saliva) looking for some useful biomarkers of disease. I acknowledge those who are not coauthors because they do not take a part in the project but are willing to store the samples when I am not present. As I am a recently graduated Ph.D., the helpers were other Ph.D. colleagues from the department or technical staff.

  • Shruti Turner
    Shruti Turner Member Posts: 300 ✭✭✭✭

    Thank you, I like how you've summed it up as Academic Kindness. That feels so nice!

    WRT your question, no I didn't ask for permission for my thesis...the few I mentioned by name I think all knew from passing comments/conversations anyway. For journal articles, yes written consent is actually expected from the journals from anyone named in the acknowledgements, as it implies they agree with the work.

  • Andrea Hayward
    Andrea Hayward Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 454 admin

    @Kristína Krajcikova thank you for clarifying. This is amazing! You're doing such impactful work 🙂

  • Andrea Hayward
    Andrea Hayward Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 454 admin

    YES! I think Twitter has made me a better identifier of Academic Kindness and given all the heart-breaking stories I come across on the daily, I feel that it's very important to acknowledge and be grateful for even the tiniest instance of kindness in academia. ❤️

    I just thought of something I think you'll find interesting. I once came across a screenshot of a thesis acknowledgement section on Twitter, in which the author had especially thanked all the cups of coffee that helped her get through her PhD journey. 😃

  • Tony Nwankwo
    Tony Nwankwo Member Posts: 11 ✭✭

    @Andrea Hayward am happy you came up with this. personally, I often include those who directly or indirectly provided any form of support during the research journey.

    But first and foremost, I will acknowledge God's supremacy over everything and for sustaining my interest throughout the whole exercise.

    secondly, I will appreciate my supportive supervisors and lecturers for their positive impacts and contributions.

    thirdly, and most importantly too, family members, coursemates, friends, research groups, even the respondents who agreed to provide and actually provided me with the needed information that led to the actualization of the research work. (without the support from these category of persons, every research effort may likely be a waste of time).

    interestingly, I try as much as possible to acknowledge scholars in general whose work i cited for painstakingly providing me with the academic resources that formed the basis for my literature review because without that it will be difficult to identify what has been done and what is left undone.


    Having said that, i would like to also ask if it is morally right to acknowlege an unsupportive supervisor in the acknowlegement section?

    The view of other members on the above question would also be appreciated.

    Thanks!!!

  • Andrea Hayward
    Andrea Hayward Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 454 admin

    @Tony Nwankwo thanks for sharing your views on this thread. I see several similarities in your response and some of the others shared above. But what really stood out to me is that you've mentioned your research participants or respondents and also the researchers who's work you've read and cited as part of your own project. This is so thoughtful! 😊

    Very interesting question about whether it's morally right to acknowledge an unsupportive supervisor in the acknowledgement section. There's probably no single correct answer to this and would vary based on people's experiences. Personally, for me, mentioning an unsupportive supervisor in an acknowledgement section would feel dishonest (to myself mostly). Especially if the supervisor has done more harm than help along my journey, it simply wouldn't feel right to make them feel otherwise. I'd rather assign special mentions to the people who genuinely care and have done their best to support me along the way.

    But this is just my opinion. What about you? I'd also like to hear from @Shruti Turner @Gustavo Arluna @Kristína Krajcikova @Omololu FAGBADEBO and @Adaora Anyichie - Odis on this.

  • Omololu FAGBADEBO
    Omololu FAGBADEBO Member Posts: 37 ✭✭✭

    @Andrea Hayward , thank you for this view. However, appreciating an unsupportive supervisor or colleague is not morally bad. One way or the other, they must have contributed to your progress, even though as a lesson to learn, but propelled you to ensure success. I did acknowledge those who opposed me in my journey not to praise them but to let them know that their opposition spurred me to be tenacious and committed to my goal.

    One thing at a time

  • Gustavo Arluna
    Gustavo Arluna Member Posts: 99 ✭✭✭

    @Tony Nwankwo I think I share @Andrea Hayward 's opinion about mentioning certain people on the acknowledgement section. If you don't feel comfortable with doing something it's better not to do it.

    Another option: you can mention the whole institution as an ambiguous way of mentioning /not mentioning your supervisor😎👍😁

  • Kristína Krajcikova
    Kristína Krajcikova Member Posts: 4

    @Tony Nwankwo I have a different opinion. Even though your supervisor is not supportive, you officially need one to finish your degree. You do not have to express the long cordially thanks in three lines but it is polite to mention him/her, at least. If he/she has been an ass***e, you do not have to be.

  • Adaora Anyichie - Odis
    Adaora Anyichie - Odis Member Posts: 67 ✭✭✭

    The only thing I can say is having a positive attitude is very good for our mental health as Researchers.