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Does the fact that you've been acknowledged in a paper belong on a resume?
January 14, 2010 7:01 PM   Subscribe

Is it better to leave off a resume that you've been acknowledged in a published paper?

I've heard differing opinions. One of them made me worry: it's not just that putting it on your resume might be a harmless waste of space or distraction rather than a positive thing, but the fact that you weren't an author looks bad, and saying that you were acknowledged essentially points out that fact; putting it on there can only hurt me.

This is for an industry (not academia) job resume for a first real job after college. Some of the places I'll send it to are companies or non-profits that in fact do research and hire people with PhDs and all.

My instinct is that it's a good thing to write that the lab in which you worked in college produced a paper in which you were thanked or acknowledged. I mean, hey, you contributed enough to merit that. But the above opinion offerer (who sees lots of resumes, BTW) says that it's easy and common to add more authors to papers, and that (hyperbole ahead) anyone who came within 50 feet of a lab gets acknowledged in its papers. And that everyone who's been in academia (including people who might be evaluating the resume) knows this. And so writing that you were acknowledged will raise a red flag, if you will. Especially since plenty of undergrads have been authors in published papers.

Other people (like college career/resume counseling people) have said it's a positive and verifiable thing to say that you were acknowledged.

I do explain what I did in the labs I've worked in. The part where I'd say I was acknowledged would be additional.

Thoughts? Who's right? Could leaving it in there actually hurt my chances? Or, would leaving vs deleting that I was acknowledged really not even make a (or worse, the) difference in terms of getting that interview or job or whatever, and this is needless obsessing on my part?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (18 answers total)
 
I don't think it'll hurt, but it's kind of minor, so I'd only include it if the position/industry was very competitive. If you leave it off you can just bring it up in the interview.
posted by rhizome at 7:09 PM on January 14, 2010


My quibble with this is that it's not you who were acknowledged; it was the lab. Where you were part of a team. Which doesn't indicate how much you contributed. And an acknowledgment doesn't necessarily mean that anything spectacular was contributed.

I'm not denigrating your work, but if I were looking at your resume, I'd much prefer to see concrete examples of things you actually accomplished. Is there a way to work it so that it's more of a "Contributed to x findings, recognized in y paper"? That would be more striking than "Was part of a lab recognized by y."
posted by runningwithscissors at 7:11 PM on January 14, 2010


This is for an industry (not academia) job resume for a first real job after college. Some of the places I'll send it to are companies or non-profits that in fact do research and hire people with PhDs and all.


Include it. Make sure that you describe yourself as a "contributing author" or whatever the common parlance is in your field.

If you were years out of school and had worked outside of your field and you were padding out your resume with a bunch of acknowledgments from college, I'd tell you to knock that shit off. As a recent college grad, you should go ahead and take credit for this. It will help set you apart and by the way, I guarantee that the go-getters in your position are doing the exact same thing.

(This is presuming that you were listed by name as a 10th author or the like. If you weren't listed by name, then no, you shouldn't list it.)
posted by desuetude at 7:18 PM on January 14, 2010


If you're an author, list it. If you are not an author, it doesn't belong on your resume.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:19 PM on January 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


As an academic, I don't know how it would look to someone in industry, but my instinct is to say "don't do it." Not because it looks bad to not be an author -- if you were an undergrad at the time, it wouldn't generally be expected that you would be -- but because it's so minor. Lots of people get acknowledged for lots of different things; I acknowledge people who simply ran my experiments, so saying you got acknowledged wouldn't communicate anything beyond saying that you ran some experiments. It would therefore look to me like you were trying to pad your resume. This is especially true if you weren't even acknowledged by name. It just reeks slightly of desperation to me, and you wouldn't get any mileage out of it to compensate: having described the lab and your role in it would be sufficient.

That said, it wouldn't make or break the resume for me, so I don't think you can go tremendously wrong here.
posted by forza at 7:23 PM on January 14, 2010 [6 favorites]


Another academic who things it would look like resume padding. Desuetude, this is not a tenth author this is a "The authors a grateful helpful comments and research assistance from [twenty names listed in alphabetical order.]" This could mean anything from offering a crucial insight on how to interpret some finding, to having proofread the paper.And do to the OP, even if your acknowledgment was somehow more substantive than that, be aware that people reading that you were "acknowledged" in a paper will assume it was this sort of acknowledgment.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:42 PM on January 14, 2010


Slightly off question but how about leaving it off but getting a letter of recommendation or reference from one of the people that worked on the paper? It is a way to 'include' it without putting it on the resume itself.
posted by occidental at 8:18 PM on January 14, 2010


I do explain what I did in the labs I've worked in. The part where I'd say I was acknowledged would be additional.

If you explain the work you did, great, leave it at that. The acknowledgment is redundant. If I read that in a resume, I would count it as a small negative.

"I did [x], [y], and [z]." Yes.

"I did [x], [y], and [z]. And they even thanked me for it!" No.
posted by whatnotever at 8:20 PM on January 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm coming from the humanities side of things, so please, somebody stop me if what I'm suggesting is all wrong for the sciences.

This acknowledgment came out of a job where you worked in this lab, right? And presumably you are listing that job as an item under the "Employment" or "Experience" section of your resume?

So, are you talking about listing the acknowledgment as its own line on your resume, or putting it down as an additional detail under the job?

If the former . . . well, that seems weird.

If the latter, then I would say don't put the fact that you were acknowledged; just describe what you did that you were acknowledged for. "Ran experiments in [topic of paper] using [whizz-bang technology]" or "Maintained equipment for [type of] lab" is a lot more informative than "Acknowledged on [paper]."

If you really want to slip in a reference to the specific paper that came out of the lab while you were working there, then perhaps a cover letter or interview would be the forum in which to say something along the line of, "I really enjoyed getting to take part in the process when Professor Impressive and the rest of the team produced their research on [topic]."

For what it's worth, I have an item on my c.v. where I was acknowledged in a book that I helped copy edit, but it's not listed as an acknowledgment; it's listed under "Related Experience," and the entry goes something like: Editorial Assistant, Professor Amazing and Professor Awesome, Title of Book.
posted by Orinda at 8:25 PM on January 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I do explain what I did in the labs I've worked in. The part where I'd say I was acknowledged would be additional. D'oh, sorry, missed this line! Just realized that most of my answer is irrelevant, then.
posted by Orinda at 8:28 PM on January 14, 2010


Desuetude, this is not a tenth author this is a "The authors a grateful helpful comments and research assistance from [twenty names listed in alphabetical order.]"

If so, then I reiterate that no, it shouldn't be on your resume. I was thrown off by the OP referencing "adding authors to papers" in the same breath as the practice of acknowledgments.
posted by desuetude at 8:40 PM on January 14, 2010


Another academic scientist, who is currently reviewing graduate school applications, where including such information might be relevant.

I've not seen this done, but I would think of it as a 'slight positive' if I saw it done. I think it's pretty huge when applicants have already been an author on a paper from undergrad research, and I would view an acknowledgement as a contribution to meaningful reserach that falls short of an authorship meriting conversation. To me, this shows that you were seriously engaged in the science.
posted by u2604ab at 8:59 PM on January 14, 2010


Make sure that you describe yourself as a "contributing author" or whatever the common parlance is in your field.

Whatever you do, don't do this. If you're an author, you're in the author list. If you're not in the author list, don't say you are an author.

I'd mention the paper that resulted from your work, but I wouldn't bother tacking on "and they put me in the acknowledgements". The work is the accomplishment, not the acknowledgement.
posted by kiltedtaco at 9:07 PM on January 14, 2010


If you're an author, you're in the author list. If you're not in the author list, don't say you are an author.

Yeah, I clarified and reiterated that upthread.
posted by desuetude at 10:09 PM on January 14, 2010


One more for the "don't do it" pile. I was recently cited in a paper written by a former professor of mine and it never occurred to me to include this on my resume.

occidental's idea of asking a letter or reference from somebody who worked on the paper is a really good one - that way the information still has a way of making it in there somehow.
posted by futureisunwritten at 4:54 AM on January 15, 2010


Yes, don't put it on the resume. When I have acknowledged a colleague in a paper, I wasn't doing it so that they could refer to it; it's more as a note to the readers where they can go for more information:
"The authors would like to thank A and B for their stimulating discussions, as well as C for her support in laser operation and the D lab, especially E, for their work providing the samples."
That means, yes, I know this sounds like stuff the famous person A talks about, and yes, we've consulted with him, and his post-doc B. C stayed up all night making our apparatus work when grad student F who's on the author list was sick, and we owe her one - thanks, buddy. If you, the reader, are doing a similar project and want to know what the purity of the tungsten was that we used, talk to professor D, and if you think our result is because the samples weren't prepared right, that would be E's fault, but E really was helpful and got our stuff to us on time, and we're already asking E to make us more samples.

If I read E's resume and he said "work was acknowledged in a paper by aimedwander", that would seem really weird to me. The more appropriate way to list that would be to say "grew precision samples for collaborators" or, if I were famous, "grew precision samples for use in blah blah spectroscopy experiments by aimedwander". So then, when E gets an interview, the interviewer is skimming down the resume, and says, "I see here you grew precision samples - why don't you tell me about that", and E says "why yes, I made (description) samples for (name-dropping time) - that project's published in (cite the journal article)". Effectively though, the fact that I wrote E's name in the appendix of the paper should not affect at all the way that E talks about the work that he did; thanking him was not giving him permission to claim our project as as a major thing he did, rather a disclaimer on my part that I didn't make the samples myself.

If you did months work of constant essential work on a project and only made it into the acknowledgements section, perhaps you were robbed. But, in general, my impression is that people in the acknowledgements section spent less than a working day on the project, but made a one-time very useful contribution, or their job as support staff was invaluable on a practical level but they're not primarily a scientist in that field. Saying that you were acknowledged isn't worth anythig much; if the work you did was genuinely interesting, you talk about it whether or not it got your name mentioned someplace.
posted by aimedwander at 6:20 AM on January 15, 2010


Looking at a grad school application, I'd think "very slight positive" and prefer to see it worded as "I did $Thing for $Lab; work culminated in paper $Citation acknowledging our contribution." since lots of undergrad lab experiences go nowhere whatsoever or produce negative work. If you weren't named and I'm not looking at recommendation from the lab leader saying how indispensable you were, the desperation quotient might overwhelm that positive.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 7:30 AM on January 15, 2010


In my field, acknowledgements in a published paper can mean pretty much anything, from being a supportive friend to having a single phone call about the paper's argument to forwarding some resources to proofreading to being the primary advisor. An acknowledgement would never be listed on a resume.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 9:43 AM on January 15, 2010


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