Practical Philosophy Seminar: Joona Räsänen
"Should acknowledgements in published work include gratitude for reviewers who reviewed for journals that rejected the work?"
Joona Räsänen is PhD Research Fellow in Philosophy at the University of Oslo.
It is a common practice for authors of scientific work to thank anonymous reviewers of a journal that publish their work. Allegedly, scholars thank the reviewers because their comments improved the quality of the paper and thanking them is a proper way to show gratitude to them. Yet, often a paper is rejected from multiple journals before finding a journal that accepts it. However, authors do not thank reviewers of journals that end up rejecting their work even though comments from those reviewers often improve the quality of the work. We contacted prominent scholars in bioethics and philosophy of medicine and asked whether thanking journal reviewers of journals that rejected the work would be a welcome trend. Receiving responds from 107 scholars, we discuss the suggested proposal in light of both philosophical argument and the results of this questionnaire study. We argue that when an author’s work is published, the author should thank the reviewers whose comments improved the quality of the paper regardless whether the comments came from reviewers who reviewed for journals that rejected or accepted the work. That is because scholars should show gratitude to those who deserve it and those whose comments improved the quality of the paper deserves gratitude. We also consider objections against this practice raised by scholars in the questionnaire and show why we think they are not entirely persuasive.