Dissertation Acknowledgement – Who to Acknowledge in Your Dissertation?

The acknowledgments page is usually one of the preliminary pages of a dissertation. It usually contains paragraphs of text that acknowledge and thank the people who have helped you while you were researching and writing your dissertation. This page usually includes both personal and professional acknowledgments.

The acknowledgments page is typically placed after the title page just before the abstract. Also, it is usually not more than a page.

The writing style of a dissertation is usually formal. However, the writing style of the acknowledgments section can be informal. The reason being that it is not technically part of the academic work itself, and it is your chance to write something more personal. Therefore, you are allowed to use first-person pronouns.

Who to Acknowledge In Your Dissertation?

Typically, there are two categories of acknowledgments. They are professional and personal acknowledgments.

Ordinarily, university students are only allowed to acknowledge those who have directly contributed to the content of their dissertation. These people are usually members of academia and other professionals. However, it is advisable to check your university’s guidelines for confirmation, if there are any rules pertaining to who to include in your acknowledgments and how they should be ordered.

Having said that, it is always advisable to place your professional acknowledgments first. With professional acknowledgments, there are usually certain political aspects to keep in mind when writing. However, there are no set rules for writing them.

Additionally, for some acknowledgments, you may keep it as simple as just saying thank you. While for others, you can outline exactly how they helped you, as this is more meaningful. For acknowledgment, the standard order is to move from most formal to least formal, usually in this order.

  • Funders
  • Supervisors
  • Other academics
  • Colleagues
  • Family and friends

Professional Acknowledgments

For your professional acknowledgments, it is important not to overlook anybody. Therefore, you need to take a look back at your list of contributors and make sure you mention all the members of academia who helped you complete your dissertation. Also, it is essential to remember that you only have room for major contributors and not your high school biology teacher.

Funders and members of academia that contributed to your research may include:

  • Funding bodies
  • Supervisors
  • Professors
  • Laboratory assistants
  • Librarians
  • Colleagues
  • Editors/Proofreaders
  • Classmates
  • Research participants
  • Advisors

Professional acknowledge is also reserved for anyone who assisted you in researching, conducting experiments and surveys, or writing. Plus, you need to make sure you use the full names and titles of the individuals in your professional acknowledgments. However, you can use only their first name if you wish to protect someone’s privacy, or they are your friends.

Additionally, if you are acknowledging several people within a large group, you only need to state the name of the group. Also, when you have an authoritative person in your field of study that assisted you in your research, it is important to mention their contribution. Mentioning their contributions, no matter how limited it might have been, is sure to help strengthen the authority of your own research.

It is also important to always acknowledge your supervisor regardless of if they contributed greatly to the final product or not. Even if it just a brief thank you, you just have to.

Personal Acknowledgements

Before you begin the personal acknowledgments, take your time to make a list of people who are linked to your dissertation in any way. The people you acknowledge in personal acknowledgments may be people who have read or edited your paper or may have encouraged you or listened to your academic woes.

There is no need to mention all the members of your family and friends, just mention those who were active in your graduate studies. There is no room in your acknowledgment for cousins or family members that you have not seen or talked to in a while.

However, do not forget to include the people that inspired your work in your list of names. For instance, you can decide to include a family member that has no direct involvement in your dissertation but was the first person in your family to earn a postgraduate degree.

Lastly, when stating these people, it is important to state how they helped you with your work explicitly. Also, you can decide to acknowledge God in your dissertation, but make sure you follow the convention.

Tips For Writing Acknowledgements

check markYour Journey

Starting your acknowledgments with a paragraph about your dissertation journey is an excellent way to start. Your dissertation journey can be a brief reflective passage in which you recognize the challenges faced during your research or degree. Starting your acknowledgments this way can help the reader contextualize what follows and having a sense of why you are thanking these particular individuals.

check markJust Be Thankful

When writing your acknowledgment, the best advice you can get is not to worry. The reason being that the acknowledgments section of your dissertation is not something on which you will be evaluated; it is just your chance to express your gratitude to those who have supported you. However, you should make your acknowledgments section thoughtful and well written.

check markVarying Your Language

Having to begin all your sentences with ‘I would like to thank…’ will tend to appear overly formal and insincere. Therefore, you should try varying your language with alternatives which includes:

  • Appreciation is due to…
  • I am grateful to…
  • I acknowledge the contribution of…
  • I would like to acknowledge…
  • I am indebted to…
  • I’m very thankful to…


check markSet Aside Enough Time

The acknowledgments section is usually one of the last things you will write in your dissertation. However, you need to set aside enough time to do it, as rushing it can make you forget or omit someone important.

check markInclude Everybody

The acknowledgments section should not be too long. However, you should not feel too bad if your list is long. Go ahead to include everyone that assisted you in your study; just make sure you make it as concise as possible.

check markFollow Samples

You can follow top acknowledgment samples to help ensure that that your acknowledgments format is as rich as possible.

Additionally, you need to consider your acknowledgments to be as important as the other parts of your dissertation. Also, try to write your acknowledgments with all sincerity. Plus, make sure you are specific about the contribution of important people.


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