Ethical and Legal Considerations
If you wish your merit to be known, acknowledge that of other people.
In scientific publication, Acknowledgments typically are used to list grant or funding support, donors of equipment or supplies, technical assistance, and important specific contributions from individuals who do not qualify for authorship (see 2.10, Acknowledgments [Article Information], and 5.1.1, Authorship: Definition, Criteria, Contributions, and Requirements). Sufficient space should be provided in publications, either in print or online, for acknowledgments so that authors can properly credit all important contributions.
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 the Acknowledgment section 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 editors1,2,3,4 (see 5.1.2, Guest and Ghost Authors and Other Contributors, and 5.1.9, Group and Collaborative Authorship). For example, the JAMA Network journals require the corresponding author to identify writing and editorial assistance in the Acknowledgment section of the manuscript. These journals also publish the names, specific contributions or roles, affiliations, 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 because it is more helpful to editors, reviewers, and readers than are vague statements about writing or editorial assistance that give no indication about specific contributions, affiliations, or financial relationships. As an example, the Acknowledgment might read as follows:
Additional Contribution: We thank Joan Smart, PhD, for research and editing assistance, and John Smith, PhD, for assistance with statistical analysis; both are employed by Medical Bibliometrics Inc and received payment from the study’s sponsor.
The JAMA Network journals also require the corresponding author of all manuscripts to complete 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 individuals are identifiable, permission to include them would be needed (see 5.2.9, 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.
5.2.2 Group and Collaborative Author Lists.
A list of participants in a collaborative group may also be included in the Acknowledgment5,6 (see 5.1.9, Group and Collaborative Authorship). However, a lengthy acknowledgment may occupy an excessive amount of article space, especially for print journals with set page budgets or limits. Some have previously proposed limits on the length of an acknowledgment (eg, 1 column of a journal page or 600 words of reduced type),7 but such limits seem contrary to commitments to greater transparency of the contributions to scientific publication, and journals should carefully evaluate the appropriateness of any limits on the length of acknowledgments. However, the need to credit assistance from individuals, especially in reports of large multicenter clinical trials, and research networks varies considerably. Thus, the editor and corresponding author should determine the length of published acknowledgments on a case-by-case basis. Although not best practice, especially given that PubMed includes lists of nonauthor collaborators in PubMed records,8 if it is determined that there is not sufficient space in a print or PDF article to include a long list of collaborative participants, the list can be published in an online supplement to the article with a note indicating so in the Acknowledgment or Article Information section:
A list of study investigators and participating centers of the European Diabetes Intervention Trial is available online at http://archinte.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/165/22/2495.
In such cases, it is important to include and tag authors and nonauthor collaborators in the article XML. See also “Group Information” example in Box 5.2-1 and 5.1.10, Standards for Electronic Editing and Tagging of Names of Authors, Collaborators, and Group Authors.
5.2.3 Author Contributions.
The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) encourages authors and journals to disclose authors’ individual contributions to the work reported in published articles.9 Following this and other recommendations, a number of journals publish lists of author contributions in the article’s Acknowledgment or Article Information section.10,11 For example, the JAMA Network journals publish each author’s contributions to all reports of research, as shown in the example in Box 5.2-1.
Box 5.2-1. Hypothetical Example of an Acknowledgment or Article Information Section, Including Order of All Possible Elements
Note: Not all of the elements listed below are relevant for all manuscripts, and they are not published by all journals. Asterisk (*) indicates items that may normally appear on page 1 of a print or PDF article but would otherwise appear here in this order in an Acknowledgment or Article Information section.
Some of these elements would be submitted by authors (eg, author affiliations), and others would be added by manuscript or production editors (eg, acceptance and publication dates).
For an Article With the Following Byline:
Jack Kroll, MD; Kathryn Smith, RN, PhD; Jake Otter, MPH; Henry Jones, MD; for the Stress Intervention Trial Investigators
Accepted for Publication: November 17, 2017.
Published Online: January 5, 2018. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.57418
Correction: This article was corrected on February 20, 2018, to fix an error in the legend of Figure 1.
Open Access: This article is published under the journal’s open access model and is free to read on the day of publication.
This article is published under a CC BY open access license and is free to read on the day of publication.
*Corresponding Author: Jack Kroll, MD, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Florida College of Medicine, 25 Main St, Gainesville, FL 32601 (email@example.com).
*Author Affiliations: Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville (Kroll); Department of Behavioral Science, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Smith); Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, Oxford, England (Otter).
*Group Information: The Stress Intervention Trial Investigators are listed at the end of this article.
Author Contributions: As principal investigator, Dr Kroll had full access to all the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.
Study concept and design: All authors.
Acquisition of data: Kroll, Otter.
Analysis and interpretation of data: All authors.
Drafting of the manuscript: Kroll.
Critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content: All authors.
Statistical analysis: Kroll, Smith.
Obtained funding: Kroll.
Administrative, technical, or material support: Kroll.
Study supervision: Kroll.
Conflict of Interest Disclosures: Dr Kroll reported receiving research grants from and is a paid consultant to Progen International Inc, manufacturer of the neurochemical assay used in this study, and research grants from the International Society of Stress Research. No other disclosures were reported.
Funding/Support: This study was funded by Progen International Inc and the International Society of Stress Research.
Role of the Funder/Sponsor: Progen International Inc supplied the neurochemical assay used in this study and funded the study. Through Dr Kroll, Progen International Inc participated in the design and conduct of the study; in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of the data; and in the preparation of the manuscript. Progen International Inc reviewed the manuscript before submission and paid for editing assistance. The International Society of Stress Research had no role in the design and conduct of the study; collection, analysis, and interpretation of the data; preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript; and decision to submit the manuscript for publication.
Group Information: The Stress Intervention Trial Investigators: Steering Committee: Jeff Brown, MD, David Chillow, MD, Jane Marshall, MBBS, Lionell J. Roew, MD, Gilberto Felosa, MD, Ulrich Teich, MD, Li Wang, MD, MPH, Alexandra Zeer, PhD; Data and Safety Monitoring Committee: Janice Frank, MD, chair; Michelle Dickersin, MD, William Malden, MD, Adam Skowrenski, PhD, Anita Toole, MD; Research Coordinators: Michael Billings, MPH, Timothy Downing, PharmD, Laura Grower, RN, Kenneth Morrisey, MD, Frederic McLendon, RN, Wanda Smythe, MS, Anne Trafford, PhD.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the authors’ institutions.
Meeting Presentation: Presented in part at the 12th International Stress Management Congress; February 15, 2017; Chicago, Illinois.
Data Sharing Statement: See Supplement 3.
Note: Some journals may publish a complete data sharing statement in the Acknowledgment or Article Information section.
Additional Contributions: We thank Joan Simpson, MS, of Write Services, who was paid by Progen International Inc for editing the manuscript. We thank the 3 patients with serious adverse events, who reviewed the submitted manuscript, for granting permission to include the details about their cases in this article.
Additional Information: Coauthor Henry Jones died April 11, 2019.
Note: Some journals may also publish a Preferred Citation in the Acknowledgment or Article Information section:
Preferred Citation: Kroll J, Smith H, Otter J; Stress Intervention Trial Investigators. An intervention to reduce stress. Published online January 5, 2018. JAMA. 2018;319(22):1553-1559. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.57418
5.2.4 Authors’ Conflict of Interest Disclosures.
Authors’ conflict of interest disclosure statements should be published with articles in a consistent manner.9 For example, some journals include authors’ conflict of interest disclosures in the Acknowledgment section at the end of the article. These journals require authors to include all potential conflicts of interest, including specific financial interests and relationships and affiliations (other than those affiliations listed on the title page of the manuscript) relevant to the subject of their manuscript, in the Acknowledgment section at the time the manuscript is submitted. Authors without conflicts of interest, including specific financial interests and relationships and affiliations relevant to the subject of their manuscript, should include a statement of no such conflicts of interests in the Acknowledgment section of the manuscript11,12,13 (see Box 5.2-1 and 5.5.3, Reporting Funding, Sponsorship, and Other Support).
Many journals require authors to complete the ICMJE Form for Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest9 or include the wording of the ICMJE form in their journal authorship forms.11 An example of such a disclosure in the Acknowledgment section is shown in Box 5.2-1. Some journals include links to online PDF copies of these disclosure forms for each author or links to databases with disclosures for authors in the Acknowledgment or Article Information sections.
5.2.5 Access to Data Statement.
The ICMJE recommends that journals ask authors whether they “had access to the study data, with an explanation of the nature and extent of access, including whether access is on-going.”9 Consistent with this recommendation, the JAMA Network journals require at least 1 named author (eg, the principal investigator), and preferably no more than 2 authors, to indicate that she or he had full access to all the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis for all reports that contain original data (eg, research articles, systematic reviews, and meta-analyses). This information should be published in the Acknowledgment section (see 22.214.171.124, Access to Data and Data Sharing Statement Requirements). The JAMA Network journals publish this information just before the list of author contributions.
Author Contributions: Drs Smith and Jones had full access to all the data in the study and take responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.
5.2.6 Funding and Role of Funders and Sponsors.
Information about funding, sponsorship, or other financial or material support should also be clearly and completely identified in the Acknowledgment section.9,10,11 Some journals require this to be reported in the Methods section. For all manuscripts that are funded by commercial, governmental, or private entities, a description of the role of the sponsor(s) in the work reported and the preparation, submission, and review of the manuscript should be published as well. For example, for all funded manuscripts, including letters to the editor, the JAMA Network journals require the corresponding author to indicate the role of the funder or sponsor in each of the following:
Design and conduct of the study
Collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data
Preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript
Decision to submit the manuscript for publication
If the funder or sponsor had no role in the above activities, that information should be indicated. If authors are employees of a funder or sponsor, this information should include any role of the funder of sponsor above and beyond the contributions of the specific sponsor-employed authors. Some journals publish this information in the Methods section. The JAMA Network journals publish it in the Acknowledgment section (see 5.5.2, Requirements for Authors, and the following examples).
Role of the Funder/Sponsor: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had no role in the design and conduct of the study or the collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; it reviewed and approved the manuscript for submission.
Role of the Funder/Sponsor: The Deutsche Krenbhilfe had no role in the design and conduct of the study; the collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; and the preparation, review, approval, or decision to submit the manuscript. Authors who are employees of Biopharm Company participated in each of these activities. The National Institutes of Health reviewed and approved the study before funding.
Role of the Funder/Sponsor: The Medicines Co and the REPLACE-2 Steering Committee designed the trial, developed the protocol, and determined the statistical analysis plan by consensus. Data were collected through an internet-based electronic case-report form managed by Etrials. The sponsor had no access to the database or the randomization code, which were housed at Etrials and Integrated Clinical Technologies Inc, respectively, until finalization of the database. Data management and site monitoring were performed by International HealthCare. The finalized database was electronically transferred simultaneously to the Cleveland Clinic Cardiovascular Coordinating Center and to The Medicines Co, where unblinding and statistical analyses were separately performed. All analyses for scientific publication were performed by the study statistician at the Cleveland Clinic, independently of the sponsor. Dr Lincoff wrote all drafts of the manuscript and made revisions based on the comments of the study chairman, the Steering Committee, coauthors, and the trial sponsor. The study contract specified that the sponsor had the right to review all publications before submission and could delay submission of such publications for up to 60 days if necessary to make new patent applications but could not mandate any revision of the manuscript or prevent submission for publication.
5.2.7 Data Sharing Statement.
For reports of randomized clinical trials, the ICMJE recommends that authors of clinical trials provide a data sharing statement with submitted manuscripts and indicate if data, including individual patient data, a data dictionary that defines each field in the data set, and supporting documentation, will be made available to others; when, where, and how the data will be available; types of analyses that are permitted; and if there will be any restrictions on the use of the data.9 This follows a previous ICMJE requirement for authors of clinical trials to also include trial protocols with submitted manuscripts and published articles. Data sharing statements may also be submitted for reports of other types of studies, but the ICMJE member journals only require this for reports of randomized clinical trials.
The data sharing statements should address the following items:
Will the data collected for your study, including individual patient data and a data dictionary defining each field in the data set, be made available to others?
Yes or No (if No, authors may explain why data are not available)
List all data that will be made available.
Deidentified participant data
Participant data with identifiers
Other (please specify)
List where to access these data. Provide complete URL if data will be available in a repository or website, or provide complete email address if request for data must be sent to an individual.
List the beginning date and end date (if applicable) when these data will be available. If the beginning date of data availability will be when the article is published, please indicate “with publication.”
At a date different from publication
End date (if applicable)
If your manuscript is accepted for publication, the journal will publish your trial protocol, including the statistical analysis plan, and any amendments as online supplements. Please list any other supporting documents that you wish to make available (eg, statistical/analytic code, informed consent form).
Informed consent form
Other (please specify)
List where to access these documents. Provide complete URL if the documents will be available in a repository or website, or provide complete email address if request for documents must be sent to an individual.
List the beginning date and end date (if applicable) when the documents will be available.
At a date different from publication
End date (if applicable)
Indicate the types of analyses for which the data will be made available (eg, for any purpose or for a specified purpose).
Indicate the mechanisms by which the data will be made available (eg, with investigator support, without investigator support, after approval of a proposal, or with a signed data access agreement).
List any additional restrictions on the use of the data or any additional information.
If you would like to offer context for your decision not to make the data available, please enter it below (optional).
5.2.8 Acknowledgment Elements and Order of Elements.
An example of the Acknowledgment section, including all possible elements, as it would appear in the JAMA Network journals is shown in Box 5.2-1. In print or PDF versions of journal articles, author affiliations and correspondence information typically are published on the title page (or first page) of an article. However, in some cases (eg, articles with lengthy abstracts and author bylines) and in some journals (due to design considerations), there may not be sufficient room for all this information, and it may be published in the Acknowledgment section at the end of the article with a note indicating such on the first page of the article. Online, the author information and Acknowledgment section usually appear at the end of the article before the reference list and may be hyperlinked from the list of authors at the beginning of the article. These sections have various names, such as Acknowledgment, Article Information, and Endnotes.
5.2.9 Permission to Name Individuals.
Identification of individuals in an Acknowledgment may imply their endorsement of the article’s content. Thus, persons should not be listed in an acknowledgment without their knowledge and consent. For this reason, the ICMJE and the JAMA Network journals require the corresponding author to obtain written permission from any individuals named in the Acknowledgment section and to certify in writing to the editor that such permission has been obtained.2,9,11 However, these permissions do not need to be submitted to the journal.
5.2.10 Personal Communication and Credit Lines.
Following the rationale that including a person’s name in an acknowledgment may imply endorsement of a manuscript’s content, citing an individual’s name in a personal communication citation may carry the same implication. The ICMJE recommends that authors who name an individual as a source for information in a personal communication, whether through conversation, telephone call, or a letter sent by electronic communication, obtain written permission from that individual to be named.9 The JAMA Network journals follow the ICMJE recommendation and require authors to confirm that permission has been obtained from all those named in personal communications. The same policy might apply to identifying names in credit lines in the legends of illustrations and photographs; however, obtaining such permission from the owner of the illustration or photograph would be part of obtaining permission to include such works as required under the auspices of copyright law (see 5.6.7, Copying, Reproducing, Adapting, and Other Uses of Content).
5.2.11 Standards for Tagging Metadata in Acknowledgments.
To ensure appropriate display in print and online journals as well as indexing, search, and retrieval in bibliometric databases, journals should follow standards for tagging (coding) to identify the Acknowledgment or Article Information section and important elements, such as author conflict of interest disclosures, funding or sponsorship information, lists of nonauthor collaborators, and group author information. The National Information Standards Organization (NISO) and the National Library of Medicine have produced the Journal Article Tag Suite (JATS)14 to define a set of XML elements and attributes that describe the content and metadata of journal articles, including the Acknowledgment and elements in it. Consistent use of tagging within the full-text article will also enable the correct data mining by the publisher to submit specific metadata to databases such as PubMed and Web of Science and will enhance discoverability via search engines (see 21.0, Editing, Proofreading, Tagging, and Display).
Principal Author: Annette Flanagin, RN, MA
I thank the following for review and helpful comments: Howard Bauchner, MD, JAMA and JAMA Network; Carissa Gilman, American Cancer Society, Atlanta, Georgia; Timothy Gray, PhD, JAMA Network; Iris Y. Lo, JAMA Network; Lou Knecht, formerly of the National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, Maryland; and Ana Marušić, MD, PhD, Journal of Global Health and University of Split School of Medicine, Croatia.
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