“We argue that when an author’s work is published, the author should thank the reviewers whose comments improved the paper regardless of whether those reviewers’ journals rejected or accepted the work.”
That’s Joona Räsänen (Oslo) and Pekka Louhiala (Helsinki) in “Should Acknowledgments in Published Academic Articles Include Gratitude for Reviewers Who Reviewed for Journals that Rejected Those Articles?“, a new article published in Theoria.
Here’s the abstract of the paper:
It is a common practice for authors of an academic work to thank the anonymous reviewers at the journal that is publishing it. Allegedly, scholars thank the reviewers because their comments improved the paper and thanking them is a proper way to show gratitude to them. Yet often, a paper that is eventually accepted by one journal is first rejected by other journals, and even though those journals’ reviewers also supply comments that improve the quality of the work, those reviewers are not customarily thanked. We contacted prominent scholars in bioethics and philosophy of medicine and asked whether thanking such reviewers would be a welcome trend. Having received responses from 107 scholars, we discuss the suggested proposal in light of both philosophical argument and the results of this survey. We argue that when an author’s work is published, the author should thank the reviewers whose comments improved the paper regardless of whether those reviewers’ journals rejected or accepted the work. That is because scholars should show gratitude to those who deserve it, and those whose comments improved the paper deserve gratitude. We also consider objections against this practice raised by scholars and show why they are not entirely persuasive.
Readers may recall from last year a post on this very subject, featuring an email calling for a “new norm” in academia to “acknowledge the help of all referees, at all of the journals to which you have sent your paper, if their help was of the sort that you would acknowledge from the journal that published it.”
Räsänen and Louhiala’s argument is simple:
Premise 1. The author should thank all whose comments improved the paper.
Premise 2. Comments from (some of) the reviewers at journals that rejected the paper improved the paper.
Conclusion. The author should thank (some of) the reviewers at the journals that rejected the paper.
Most of the scholars they surveyed seem to agree with their proposal:The authors consider several objections, as well. Their article is open-access, and you can read the whole thing here.