By David Becker
It’s Thanksgiving, that time of year when you can thank your friends, family, and all the other important people in your life by bringing them together for a massive, fun-filled feast. If you’re a researcher about to publish the results of a recent study, you may also want to give thanks to those who helped you conduct it or prepare your manuscript. Inviting them to Thanksgiving dinner would certainly be a great way to express gratitude, but you can also thank them in an author note.
The author note, which is explained on pages 24–25 in the Publication Manual, generally appears in the footer of a published journal article. In a draft manuscript, it is part of the title page (see the order of manuscript pages on page 229 in the Publication Manual). Most student papers do not include one. You can find examples of the author note through our Best of the Blog post. Sample paper 1 demonstrates the author note's typical location in a draft manuscript, and the sample published paper shows what an author note looks like in a journal article.
The author note usually lists the authors’ departmental affiliations and contact information, states any disclaimers and potential conflicts of interest, and provides acknowledgments. These acknowledgments can be included in the third paragraph and used to identify grants or other financial support, explain any special authorship agreements, and thank those who provided personal assistance. Generally, you don't need to acknowledge peer reviewers, journal editors, or others who routinely review and accept manuscripts.
Personal assistance encompasses individuals whose work may not warrant authorship credit—that is, they didn’t do any actual writing or make significant scientific contributions (see pages 18–19 in the Publication Manual and Standard 8.12 of the APA Ethics Code for more details about defining and assigning authorship)—but their assistance was nonetheless valuable and deserving of some form of credit. Maybe you would like to thank some students who helped recruit research participants and collect data, or perhaps a couple friends and colleagues who took some time out of their busy schedules to proofread the first draft of your manuscript before you submitted it for publication. You can thank them in the acknowledgments section of your author note. It may not be tasty—or even edible—like a Thanksgiving dinner, but I’m sure your benevolent contributors will appreciate the recognition.