Acknowledgement (Xia, X. 2013. Comparative genomics. Springer)
An experienced publisher once pointed me to a few examples of “effective use” of Acknowledgment, each with an impressive list of well known scientists, tactfully acknowledged to boost the reputation of the book author. The practice reminded me of some recent scientific conferences each with a list of 8-11 Nobel laureates as session chairs or keynote speakers. A journal would not have legitimacy if it does not have a list of silverbacks, even though some of the silverbacks are never involved in the manuscript-screening process. A person’s worth is often evaluated by the number of “like”. We are coming to a world in which a masterpiece in art is no longer evaluated on its own merit but on whether it features gold-plated frame or displayed in a prominent location in a museum or gallery!
Should I mould a few famous names into a gold-plated frame for my limited painting of comparative genomics? I did have the good fortune of being associated with a number of silverbacks. Some helped me to switch to molecular evolution and phylogenetics when I was an NSERC postdoctoral fellow, unfortunately developing allergies towards deer mice that I used to study. Some offered me their books as gifts that inspired me and cultivated a strong desire in my mind to produce something similar. Some donated their previous field data or bacterial strains that led to results included in this book. Some have commented much of the book. However, there are also a large number of little known people who have helped me and supported me in various ways during the writing of the book. If the “effective use” of Acknowledgement implies the exclusion of little known names, then let me engrave all these names in my heart without mentioning any here. I think that they would all like it this way.
But there are a few names that I have to mention – there would be serious repercussions if I did not. These are the names of funding agencies: NSERC (Discovery Grant) and CAS/SAFEA (International Partnership Program for Creative Research Teams). While the money has never been sufficient for research, it is perhaps worth as much as a gold-plated frame, and that seems to be all what I need at the moment for decorating the book.
Finally, I should also thank Evelyn Best for encouraging me to write this book as an expansion of a previous book chapter. I was initially reluctant because the word “expansion” reminds me of software bloating. To paraphrase Joe Armstrong (creator of Erlang), when a reader asks for only a banana, should I give him a gorilla holding a banana or even an entire jungle? However, I soon realize that the banana alone does not make a healthy meal. Hence this book, with some additional berries, but no gorilla or jungle in it.