Measuring scientific contributions through automatic acknowledgment indexing

In a recent article C. Lee Giles and Isaac G. Councill (PNAS, December 21, 2004, vol. 101, no. 51) present an alternative way to measure impact; through acknowledgements, which got quit some media attention.


Acknowledgments in research publications, like citations, indicate
influential contributions to scientific work. However, acknowledgments
are different from citations; whereas citations are formal
expressions of debt, acknowledgments are arguably more personal,
singular, or private expressions of appreciation and contribution.
Furthermore, many sources of research funding expect
researchers to acknowledge any support that contributed to the
published work. Just as citation indexing proved to be an important
tool for evaluating research contributions, we argue that
acknowledgments can be considered as a metric parallel to citations
in the academic audit process.We have developed automated
methods for acknowledgment extraction and analysis and show
that combining acknowledgment analysis with citation indexing
yields a measurable impact of the efficacy of various individuals as
well as government, corporate, and university sponsors of scientific

The authors state that ‘Acknowledgments may be made for a number of reasons but often
imply significant intellectual debt. Just as citation indexing proved to be an important tool for evaluating research contributions, acknowledgments can be considered a metric parallel to citations in the academic audit process’.

Acknowledgments embody a wide range of relationships among people, agencies, institutions, and research.
Classification schemes exist for six categories of acknowledgment:

  1. moral support;
  2. financial support;
  3. editorial support;
  4. presentational support (e.g., presenting a paper at a conference);
  5. instrumental/technical support; and
  6. conceptual support, or peer interactive communication (PIC).

In this article, acknowledged entities are listed in four categories:

  1. funding agencies,
  2. companies,
  3. educational institutions, and
  4. individuals

About Wilfred Mijnhardt
RMIMR is my virtual playground, a place to reflect on issues from my professional context, my job as Policy Director at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM). RSM is the international university based business school at Erasmus University Rotterdam. More info here: Here is my list of relevant publications on the topic of my RMIMR weblog: The rss feed for my RMIMR collection is here: Here is my other weblog on impact of research:

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