Saturday, March 03, 2018

Calling all academics - help improve the value of acknowledgements sections by adding ORCID IDs of people you acknowledge

UPDATE 4/4 2018.  See embedded Twitter Moment at the end of this post for, well, some issues.

I have been thinking a lot about Acknowledgement sections for papers over the last few years. One aspect of this is that I am trying to do a better job about acknowledging all the various people and agencies that provided some type of assistance for papers of mine.  I don't always do a good job of this, but I am trying to do better.  And in thinking about doing this I wondered if there was any easy way to track and quantify and make use of information in Acknowledgements.

Now, I am not an information science person or a bibliometrics person so I am not really sure how much effort there has been in tracking contributions in Acknowledgement sections but I have noticed one thing that makes this hard to do.  Some Acknowledgement sections use only initials of people when they are recognized.  Others use full names but names can be ambiguous.  But there is a better way.  If, when people thank someone in the Acknowledgements, they include a person's ORCID ID, then we have a way of tracking the recognition that people are being given.

So I decided to do this.  In a recent paper we published in PeerJ:
Hampton-Marcell JT, Gilbert JA, Eisen JA. (2017) A microbial survey of the International Space Station (ISS) PeerJ 5:e4029

We thanked five people
The authors would like to thank Summer Williams for the inception of the idea to get Science Cheerleader involved in space research. In addition we give thanks to Carl Carruthers at Nanoracks LLC for managing our space payload. We are also grateful to Holly Menninger and Rob Dunn for sharing data from the Wildlife of Our Homes pilot project, and Steven Kimball (orchid.org/0000-0001-5224-0952) for publishing the original version of Fig. 7 in an open access journal, as well as sharing the underlying data.
I could not find ORCID IDs for four of them, but for one, Steven Kembel, I could.  Alas, when the article was first published, Steven's name was spelled wrong and the ORCID link was a bit messed up.  Fortunately, we needed to publish a correction to the article for some issues in the use of some terminology and due to some other parts where some editing errors existed.  And just a few days ago the correction was published.

Now the Acknowledgements read:

The authors would like to thank Summer Williams for the inception of the idea to get Science Cheerleader involved in space research. In addition we give thanks to Carl Carruthers at Nanoracks LLC for managing our space payload. We are also grateful to Holly Menninger and Rob Dunn for sharing data from the Wildlife of Our Homes pilot project, and Steven Kembel (ORCID ID: 0000-0001-5224-0952) for publishing the original version of Fig. 7 in an open access journal, as well as sharing the underlying data.


There is no longer a link to ORCID (not sure why) but that is OK - at least the ID is there.

Also I convinced a friend and colleague Raquel Peixoto to add my ORCID ID in an Acknowledgment section in a paper of hers:
We thank Jonathan A. Eisen, ORCID ID 0000-0002-0159-2197, and Alexandre Rosado for their helpful comments to improve the manuscript.
I call on the broader community to do this as much as possible for Acknowledgement sections because then it will be easier to actually connect Acknowledgements to people.



UPDATE 4/4

So then I posted this post.  And some people liked it.  And others, well, did not.  And, well, I made a summary of some of the response in a Twitter moment.
---------

2 comments:

  1. My experience today, doing this for a manuscript where I am turning in the final post-revisions version today, so I figured I would add this:

    Of eight academics we had decided to thank in Acknowledgements, all of them active and publishing, only 4 had ORCID IDs that we could be reasonably sure were correct. Two of these, however, had no public information linked to them, so technically we were just assuming we had the right person. One name was common and there were dozens of ORCID IDs to try and search through to find the guy, and after clicking on them all, most of those were set to private, none were clearly him, so I put nothing for that one. The others brought up nothing on the ORCID search page.

    In terms of the likely rewards/credit, adding the ORCID IDs seems likely to be pointless to me at the moment. Perhaps if it were universally done, it would move up to a minor positive impact, but the work involved to make it "fair" - i.e., every academic has a public ORCID ID profile and sufficient identifying information - is substantial, and arguably yet another uncompensated burden. On the other hand, perhaps putting up your profile publicly indicates that you do consider labeled kudos worthwhile.

    Probably the main reason to give names in Acknowledgements is to let those people know themselves that their help is appreciated, it seems like that doesn't change with/without the ORCID ID. And, perhaps another potential criticism of ORCID IDs in the Acknowledgements is that it is yet another step towards pseudo-quantification and monetizing of academic labor.

    But, whatever, I figured I'll try it this time, mostly to see how the journal reacts.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for posting this. Not sure if you say the Twitter Moment I made about the criticisms of this idea, many of which I think are valid. I am a bit torn - I really want Acknowledgements to be more useful but some of the criticisms about where this could lead are kind of spot on so am rethinking the idea.

      Delete