How to Acknowledge a Commercial Partner in an Academic Article
Acknowledging the input of an academic collaborator in a research paper is rather straightforward. If they made a significant intellectual contribution, you include them as an coauthor; if it was just helpful support, you express your gratitude in the acknowledgements. How about with a commercial service provider?
We are often asked how we expect to be acknowledged in articles resulting from the work we have helped with by providing paid bioinformatics services.
At Genevia Technologies, we never require authorship in our customers’ papers. In fact, requiring authorship for commercial research services violates the basic idea of authorship, unless the service provider has significant input on the research and takes part in the manuscript preparation and submission.
Same rules for everyone
the exact same rules of authorship apply for everyone contributing on a paper, regardless of affiliation. We do help researchers in all phases of research projects, up to reviewing manuscripts and replying to reviewer’s comments in regard of the computational analysis. It is perfectly fine to ask us to coauthor a paper. Below are examples of articles in which the customer felt the computational work was so central that they opted to include us as authors.
The best practices
Whether the commercial partner is a coauthor or not, it is still a good practice to mention them in the Materials and methods section, like in this paper (“Full lists of gene expression data were generated by GeneVia Technologies (Tampere, Finland)”), even though we do also provide detailed methods descriptions for the manuscript.
That same paper also mentions our bioinformatician in the acknowledgements (“Valuable bioinformatics support was also provided by Ville Kytölä (Genevia Technologies Ltd)”). The Acknowledgements section is useful when you feel the support was helpful but does not fulfill all the criteria of authorship. Generally speaking, acknowledging more and coauthoring less is a great practice in this age of bloated author lists!
To summarize: use either Methods or Acknowledgements section, whichever seems more appropriate — or even both. If the service goes far beyond mere technical support, ask whether the commercial partner wishes to coauthor.
Feel free to browse all the papers our bioinformaticians have authored here, and answers to other frequent questions about our service here. If you do not find the answer to your question, just write it in the box below and we will come back with an answer!