Dissertation acknowledgements

The dissertation acknowledgements section is where you thank those who have helped and supported you during the research and writing process. This includes both professional and personal acknowledgements.

The dissertation acknowledgements appear directly after the title page and before the abstract, and should usually be no longer than one page.

In the acknowledgements, you can use a more informal style than is usually permitted in academic writing. This is not part of the academic work itself it is your chance to write something more personal. For that reason, you may use first-person pronouns in this section.

Dissertation acknowledgement example

Tip: Searching “dissertation acknowledgements” and the name of your educational institution can help you gain more understanding of what other students at your university have written.

Acknowledgements

Throughout the writing of this dissertation I have received a great deal of support and assistance.

I would first like to thank my supervisor, Professor Monica Geller, whose expertise was invaluable in formulating the research questions and methodology. Your insightful feedback pushed me to sharpen my thinking and brought my work to a higher level.

I would like to acknowledge my colleagues from my internship at Central P. for their wonderful collaboration. I would particularly like to single out my supervisor at Central P., Phoebe Buffay. Phoebe, I want to thank you for your patient support and for all of the opportunities I was given to further my research.

I would also like to thank my tutors, Dr. Ross Geller and Dr. Chandler Bing, for their valuable guidance throughout my studies. You provided me with the tools that I needed to choose the right direction and successfully complete my dissertation.

In addition, I would like to thank my parents for their wise counsel and sympathetic ear. You are always there for me. Finally, I could not have completed this dissertation without the support of my friends, Joey Tribbiani and Rachel Green, who provided stimulating discussions as well as happy distractions to rest my mind outside of my research.

Who to thank

Generally, there are two categories of acknowledgements: professional and personal.

Some universities only allow students to acknowledge those who have directly contributed to the content, i.e. members of academia and other professionals. Check your university’s guidelines to see whether there are any rules for this.

It is wise to place the professional acknowledgements first. Though there is no set rule, the standard order is to move from most formal to least:

funders → supervisors → other academics → colleagues → family and friends

Usually, you should only mention those who directly supported you during your dissertation — but if you feel your high school physics professor was a great inspiration on the path to your current research, you can include such an exception.

For some acknowledgements, you may wish to keep it simple and say only “thank you.” For others, you might like to outline exactly how they helped you.

Professional acknowledgements

It is important not to overlook anybody, particularly those in the professional sphere, who may have helped you along the way.

You should mention the members of academia and funders who contributed to your research. This might include:

  • funding bodies
  • supervisors
  • professors
  • laboratory assistants
  • librarians
  • colleagues
  • editors/proofreaders (a requirement at some universities)
  • classmates
  • research participants (e.g. people who completed a survey to help you gather data)

Be sure to use full names with titles. If several members of a group or organization assisted you, mention the collective name only. If you wish to protect someone’s privacy, use only their first name or a generic identifier (such as “the interviewees”).

If an authoritative person in your field of study discussed your research with you or gave feedback in any form, mentioning their contribution, however limited it may have been, will help strengthen the authority of your own research.

My supervisor did nothing! Do I need to thank them?
Even if you feel your supervisor did not contribute greatly to the final product, you must acknowledge them, if only for a very brief thank you. If you do not include your supervisor, it may be seen as a snub.

Personal acknowledgements

There is no need to mention every member of your family or friend group. However, if someone was particularly inspiring or supportive, you may wish to mention them specifically.

Can I acknowledge a family member first?
For some, the personal acknowledgements might be very meaningful and heartfelt, especially if the research was undertaken during a difficult period. Some students wish to dedicate their dissertation to a deceased family member, in which case this might be mentioned first, before any professional acknowledgements.

Can I acknowledge God?
You may acknowledge God in your dissertation, but be sure to follow the convention by also thanking the members of academia, family and friends who helped you.

Can I acknowledge a pet?
Yes! Some students choose to thank their pet for the companionship or comfort during the research and writing process. If you feel they contributed to helping you in some way, you can certainly mention them  but it is unwise to acknowledge your cat above your supervisor or funding bodies!

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How to write acknowledgements

You can use the following examples of common sentences in acknowledgements to get started:

  • I would like to thank my supervisor, Nikola Tesla, for his guidance through each stage of the process.
  • I would like to acknowledge Professor S. Jobs for inspiring my interest in the development of innovative technologies.
  • My research partner, Dr Jane Goodall, was instrumental in defining the path of my research. For this, I am extremely grateful.

If you are really stuck, simply begin each sentence with “I would like to thank…”, and elaborate on how each person or group contributed.

You do not need to write any sort of conclusion or summary at the end. You can end the acknowledgements with your last thank you.

Frequently asked questions about acknowledgements

Who should I thank in the acknowledgements?

In the acknowledgements of your thesis or dissertation, you should first thank those who helped you academically or professionally, such as your supervisor, funders, and other academics.

Then you can include personal thanks to friends, family members, or anyone else who supported you during the process.

Do I have to thank my supervisor?

Yes, it’s important to thank your supervisor(s) in the acknowledgements section of your thesis or dissertation. Even if they were not heavily involved, it’s important to at least briefly acknowledge their assistance.

Where do the acknowledgements go in a thesis or dissertation?

The acknowledgements are generally included at the very beginning of your thesis, directly after the title page and before the abstract.

How long should the acknowledgements be?

In a thesis or dissertation, the acknowledgements should usually be no longer than one page. There is no minimum length.

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Courtney Gahan

Courtney has a Bachelor in Communication and a Master in Editing and Publishing. She has worked as a freelance writer and editor since 2013, and joined the Scribbr team as an editor in June 2017. She loves helping students and academics all over the world improve their writing (and learning about their research while doing so!).

5 comments

random guy
August 22, 2020 at 2:00 PM

joey tribbiani and rachel green huh

Reply

Grace
July 18, 2020 at 7:52 AM

Can I start a sentence with "To" when writing an Acknowledgement for a dissertation?

Such as...

To my mentor, Dr. Smith, thank you for...

Reply

Shona McCombes
Shona McCombes (Scribbr-team)
July 29, 2020 at 8:20 PM

Hi Grace,

Yes, that phrasing is perfectly fine in an acknowledgements section.

Reply

Rebecca
November 13, 2019 at 12:35 PM

Hi, I am looking for someone to proof-read my PhD thesis. Can you recommend a reliable proof-reader for me?

Reply

Shona McCombes
Shona McCombes (Scribbr-team)
November 14, 2019 at 10:45 AM

Hi Rebecca! Scribbr offers specialized proofreading and editing services for academic texts, including PhD theses. You can read reviews of our services on Trustpilot. Hope this helps!

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