Acknowledging Commentators


It’s normal for versions of a paper to be presented as talks or conference presentations a few times before the final version is published. At some of these talks and presentations, you may have, in addition to comments from the audience, an official commentator delivering prepared remarks on your ideas. What are the norms governing acknowledging commentators in the published version of the paper?

A philosopher who wishes to not be identified writes in with what I take to be a popular view:

I had thought that this was a standard practice: when a paper had previously been presented at a specific department, the host department gets a mention; when a paper had previously been presented at a conference with a commentator, the conference and the specific commentator get a mention; etc. I guess I always thought that this was more than standard practice—I would have thought that one has a duty (of gratitude) to give this kind of credit.

However, our corresponding philosopher also writes:

I’ve recently discovered that two papers on which I’ve provided commentaries—and that now appear in print—do not give me any credit. In each case, the conferences at which the papers were presented are mentioned. In one case, other (much more famous) people who were in the audience are mentioned.

Is the failure to credit commentators just a careless oversight—in which case the advice is be more conscientious, people—or is a different norm in play? We don’t know about the case at hand, but perhaps the norm is this: give credit in the published version to the commentators on earlier versions of your paper if the commentators’ comments were helpful; if they were not helpful, you needn’t credit them.  

With a rather generous understanding of (or low bar for) “helpful” does that sound reasonable? Or is it missing something?

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