Today I got an email from someone to whom I have provided significant input regarding research ideas and writing in recent years. We are not collaborators by any means, but our fields overlap enough that we have had extensive conversations and I have reviewed several of his recent papers. Today he wrote to apologize for not acknowledging me by name in his most recent papers, even though (according to his email) some of my comments and ideas have significantly changed/improved his work. If he hadn’t emailed me, I would never have noticed that my assistance was unacknowledged.
In any case, I thought “No big deal”, assuming that he had just spaced out on the acknowledgments and only mentioned his grants or something like that. Out of curiosity, I looked at the acknowledgments of one of the papers that could very reasonably have acknowledged my input, and there I read a list of several Famous Male Professors who had provided input, reviews, and ‘insightful conversations’.
So .. following up on yesterday's post, shall we give him the so-called benefit of the doubt and assume that I wasn’t overlooked because I am female and therefore just basically a helpful person by nature whose help becomes part of the upholstery, and that it is a coincidence that the people acknowledged by name just happen to be senior male professors whose every utterance is surely an intellectual gift to be treasured? I am fine with that, even if I don’t believe it 100%.
Fortunately, my delicate ego has emerged from this latest minor episode unscathed yet again, and I will not hold this lack of public acknowledgment against the author. My guess is that he emailed me today because he is worried that I will very likely be asked to review manuscripts of his again, and I might be so incensed at his ingratitude that I will lash out at his data, not to mention his interpretations, and thereby derail his fledgling career. I would never do that, although I admit that it doesn't bother me if concern about this makes him briefly and temporarily anxious.
13 years ago