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.

The writing style for dissertation acknowledgements can be more informal, as this is not part of the academic work itself  it is your chance to write something more personal. For that reason, you may use personal pronouns in this section.

Dissertation acknowledgement example

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

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, as there is a certain political aspect to keep in mind when writing. 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 were directly involved, 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, as this is more meaningful.

Professional acknowledgements

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

You must 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.

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. For example, you might acknowledge a grandparent whose own academic pursuits encouraged your own.

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 and thank 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!

How to write acknowledgements

You can use the following examples of common sentences in acknowledgements to get you 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.

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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!).

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