Beyond funding: Acknowledgement patterns in biomedical, natural and social sciences

Adèle Paul-Hus, Adrián A. Díaz-Faes, Maxime Sainte-Marie, Nadine Desrochers, Rodrigo Costas, Vincent Larivière

For the past 50 years, acknowledgments have been studied as important paratextual traces

of research practices, collaboration, and infrastructure in science. Since 2008, funding

acknowledgments have been indexed by Web of Science, supporting large-scale analyses

of research funding. Applying advanced linguistic methods as well as Correspondence Analysis

to more than one million acknowledgments from research articles and reviews published

in 2015, this paper aims to go beyond funding disclosure and study the main types of

contributions found in acknowledgments on a large scale and through disciplinary comparisons.

Our analysis shows that technical support is more frequently acknowledged by scholars

in Chemistry, Physics and Engineering. Earth and Space, Professional Fields, and

Social Sciences are more likely to acknowledge contributions from colleagues, editors, and

reviewers, while Biology acknowledgments put more emphasis on logistics and fieldworkrelated

tasks. Conflicts of interest disclosures (or lack of thereof) are more frequently found

in acknowledgments from Clinical Medicine, Health and, to a lesser extent, Psychology.

These results demonstrate that acknowledgment practices truly do vary across disciplines

and that this can lead to important further research beyond the sole interest in funding