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Dissertation & Thesis Acknowledgements – A Quick Guide with Example

Published by at January 2nd, 2023 , Revised On January 3, 2023

The acknowledgements section of a thesis or a dissertation is your opportunity to express gratitude towards those who supported and helped you in a personal and professional capacity during the research and writing process.

The acknowledgements page in a thesis or dissertation is positioned between the title page and the abstract. Its length should be one A4 page at maximum.

Unlike the other parts of a thesis or dissertation, you can use informal language and first-person nouns in the acknowledgements section. They are often not considered a part of the dissertation or thesis but rather an opportunity for the author to thank those who contributed personally.

Want to see a step-by-step acknowledgements template before getting started? Download our sample that uses simple sentence starters to help you build the acknowledgements page from scratch.

When to Write the Acknowledgments for a Dissertation

You will need to write the acknowledgements page for your thesis or dissertation once you have completed the paper’s fundamental chapters, including the introduction, research questions or objectives, literature review, research methodology, findings and analysis, conclusion, recommendations and references.

The acknowledgements page is generally left until all the more essential parts of the dissertation have been completed.

Who Do I Thank in the Acknowledgements

One of the first questions students have is about who they must thank in the acknowledgements section. Those who need to be thanked can be broadly split into two categories: personal and professional.

However, all students should read their dissertation handbook and the university’s guidelines, as it may contain rules or preferences about the acknowledgements’ structure, style and order.

Some academic institutes may require students to keep their acknowledgements strictly personal without any reference to the personal support they may have received.

Irrespective of the template you follow, start by thanking those who helped you professionally, followed by those who did personally. You can also rank who you want to thank first, from most important to least.

Here is an example of the recommended thanking order:

  • Dissertation defence committee, supervisors, mentors, and department chairs
  • Funding bodies
  • Colleagues, cohort members and other academics
  • Proofreaders and editors
  • Research participants, research assistants, librarians and laboratory staff
  • Friends, family, pets, and more.

Refrain from referring to people who didn’t support you with your thesis or dissertation. Only those who directly helped you must get a mention in the acknowledgements.

However, remember that in some cases, you can include people who inspired you to conduct the research but didn’t directly participate in any way.

Professional Acknowledgments

Include everyone who helped you complete your dissertation or thesis project. No matter how small or significant the contribution was, it is important to mention those who were crucial to the success of your project.

For example, you can mention the name of a friend who helped you select a suitable and unique dissertation topic or a teacher who helped you proofread, edit, and polish your work.

The following tips will be helpful:

  • Even if you had a forgettable interaction with your supervisor and you feel they didn’t help you much, it is essential still to mention their name.
  • Follow accurate academic conventions, using full names with titles where appropriate.
  • If several people of the same organisation assisted you, mention the collective name only. You don’t need to write the names of the individuals.
  • Strictly ensure the confidentiality of those who wish to remain anonymous. Refer to them in the acknowledgements through general identifiers (such as “the participants”).

Personal Acknowledgments

While you do not need to mention all of your friends and family members, you should specifically thank those who were particularly helpful and inspiring.

Many students acknowledge their friends, partners, parents, siblings, pets, and those who positively influenced their research.

On the other hand, some students dedicate much of the available space in the personal acknowledgements section to a deceased and influential person who was instrumental in their personal life. It is perfectly okay to mention the dead person before professional acknowledgements.

Difference between Masters and PhD Acknowledgments

There is no difference between writing the acknowledgements for a Master’s and PhD thesis or dissertation. Always follow the dissertation writing guidelines provided by the university. If there is confusion, speak with your supervisor to be 100% certain they will accept the template you are following.

How to Write Acknowledgments

Once you have noted the people who played a significant role in your research, thank them in an order that fits the criteria provided by your university or school. When you have to thank several people, try and categorise them into three different lists of “minor thanks”, “big thanks”, and “major thanks”.

Major thanks – All the people without whom the project wouldn’t have been possible fall in this category. For example, you can include your close friends, partner and parents, and personal acknowledgements.

Big thanks – People who contributed significantly to help you complete your research and grow intellectually deserve “Big thanks”. You can also say “Big thanks” to the research assistants, classmates, laboratory assistants, peers and librarians who participated in your work.

Minor thanks – These people played a small but important role in your research. Most minor thanks acknowledgements fall under the professional acknowledgements category, such as the supervisor, mentor, and defence committee members.

Use of Appropriate Phrases in Acknowledgments

Rephrase, reorganise and restructure the writing of the acknowledgements to avoid being repetitive and boring. Here are some attractive and practical examples of sentence starters you can use for each category.

Example Acknowledgments Sentence Starters

Major thanks Big thanks Minor thanks
  • I do not have the words to express my gratitude for
  • I am deeply indebted to
  • This journey and success would not have been possible without
  • I am incredibly indebted to
  • Words cannot describe my appreciation for
  • I would like to express my most profound respect to
  • Special thanks to
  • I would like to extend my sincere thanks to
  • A special thanks to
  • I must mention
  • I am also grateful to
  • Many thanks to
  • It would be unfair not to mention
  • It was a pleasure collaborating with
  • I would also like to thank
  • I would like to acknowledge
  • I would also like to remember

You don’t need to end the acknowledgements with a conclusion or a summary. You can finish it once you have thanked the last person on the acknowledgement list.

Here is an example acknowledgements template showing how you can combine different typical sentence starters to create a focused acknowledgements page.

The text in the acknowledgements example is highlighted using three different colours to represent the three specific components of sentences, which are:

A sentence starter (Blue)

The person or group you are thanking (Yellow)

The reason you are thanking them for (Red)

Acknowledgements Example

I don’t have the words to express my respect and gratitude to the department chair and the Dean of the school of science engineering for their personal mentorship, support and regular feedback. I am incredibly indebted to the course teaching assistant for his humbleness and patience with me. Also, this journey and success would not have been possible without the monetary contribution from Mitchelin Farms INC.

Many thanks to my classmates and office colleagues for their help in proofreading, editing, detailed feedback, and encouragement. I must also mention the dedicated librarians, research participants and laboratory staff for providing inspiration and support.

Lastly, I would like to thank my family members, especially my siblings, spouse, children and parents. They provided unwavering support to me and ensured I was in great spirits throughout the process. I would also like to remember my dog for his emotional support and interaction.

What the Acknowledgements Should Have

  • Use of professional first-person language
  • Appropriate grouping of acknowledgements mentioning organisations and research participants
  • Strictly anonymising those who requested 100% confidentiality
  • Acknowledgements mentioning financial sponsors
  • Intangible and emotional support from parents, pets, family members and friends
  • Recognise the professional contact first
  • Every single acknowledgement includes full names, titles and the roles

What to Avoid in Acknowledgments

  • Mention people or organisations who had little to no impact on your research work
  • Foul or informal language
  • Go over one page in length
  • Use inappropriate titles or names

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Frequently Asked Questions About the Thesis or Dissertation Acknowledgments

People thank God in the acknowledgements when they feel the need do so. If you have a close relationship with God, you can undoubtedly acknowledge Him. However, use the correct academic template and recognise the academia, friends, and family members who helped you.

The acknowledgements section of a thesis or a dissertation should include those who helped you professionally, such as the supervisor, librarians, laboratory staff, research assistants and teaching assistants.

The one-page section should also acknowledge your parents, partners, family members, friends and organisations who supported you emotionally during the process.

The acknowledgements should be one-page at most unless advised otherwise by your supervisor.

The significance of your supervisor’s role in the process cannot be understated. Your supervisor can provide much-needed support through regular feedback to help you keep your research on the right path.

Even if you feel your supervisor didn’t offer any, you must acknowledge them. You could send a very wrong message to the Defence committee if you snub your thesis tutor.

The acknowledgements page is positioned straight after the thesis or dissertation title page.

About Alvin Nicolas

Avatar for Alvin NicolasNicolas has a master's degree in literature and a PhD degree in statistics. He loves to write, cook and run. Nicolas is passionate about helping students at all levels.

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