Techniques and Examples on How to Compose a Dissertation Acknowledgment

A dissertation acknowledgment is not usually required as part of your thesis, but it is a good idea to include it in order to thank everyone who lent you professional help with your work. The word “professional” is important here. The acknowledgments section is not for thanking your family and friends (you may do this on the dedication page); but for your advisors, professors, and colleagues.

In terms of style, acknowledgments are probably the easiest part to write. While in the rest of your dissertation you have to use academic language like technical and scientific terms, here you can write in simple words. However, there are some things you should know about composing this section:

  • Make your acknowledgment as short as you can. There is no exact word count, but try to fit it into a single double-spaced page. A longer acknowledgment section may tire and annoy your readers.

  • Remember of the space limitation and professional focus. List only those who actually helped you in conducting your research, experiments, and surveys. It may be your advisor, some of your professors and colleagues, interviewees, and external bodies.

  • Specify the exact contribution of each person you are naming. For example, “My librarian, Mr. John Smith, for his help in finding all those books I needed.” It will please the people on your list that you still remember how and when they helped you, and will also make your acknowledgment section look more serious and professional.

  • Use the full name and titles of the academic staff you thank. Regarding interviewees or your friends who would rather remain anonymous, you may use only their first names. When you need to thank a large group of people from a particular organization that provided help, only use this organization’s name.

  • Keep your tone sincere and friendly. Do not try to be too original or smart in your expressions of gratitude.

For your acknowledgments page; use the same font size, type, and spacing as used throughout the main body of your dissertation. In general, it should look something like this: a centered capitalized title called “ACKNOWLEDGMENTS”, and two or three paragraphs beginning with “I thank (name) for…” However, the exact requirements may vary between universities. For example, there is no universal answer on whether you should write your acknowledgments in the first person (“I”) or in the third (“the author”). The way to be sure is to search your university library for specific guidelines and the examples of previously submitted dissertations. It may also be a good idea to consult your supervisor.

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