Dissertation Acknowledgment: Tips from 2 Experts

Dissertation Acknowledgment: Tips from 2 Experts

Dissertations are often published.  To that end, most students write—either as an optional part of their document or as a required part of the assignment—a dissertation acknowledgement.  Much like the acknowledgement in a book, a dissertation acknowledgement is intended to thank or acknowledge each person who helped the student in researching and writing the dissertation or who contributed to the work in some way.

Dissertation acknowledgements appear after the cover page.  Most universities and educational institutions have specific requirements for where the report acknowledgement should appear.  Students should follow the guidelines presented in the rules of their college or university because failure to do so can result in the rejection of the work.  Although, often somewhat nostalgic, dissertation acknowledgements should be written in as formal a style as the rest.

The dissertation acknowledgement section of the document should be housed on its own page or pages.  It should not be included as part of the introduction or any other section.  It should appear in the table of contents as its own section.

The dissertation acknowledgement should acknowledge the contributions of everyone who contributed to the work.  Whether the contribution was large or small, everyone who helped the student create such an important paper deserves mention.  It is considered customary to thank instructors, other students, friends, and even family members.  It is also a good idea to mention the important contributions of research subjects, editors, and advisors.  Some students even thank their young children, who might serve as a source of inspiration, a librarian who was particularly helpful, or even an editor who was particularly helpful.

Dissertation acknowledgements should always include the members of the report committee and any other college or university professional who had a hand in the creation.  These are individuals who are likely to feel particularly slighted if they are omitted from the acknowledgements so students should pay special attention to these people.  It stands to reason that although some of the individuals mentioned in the report acknowledgements may be sincerely appreciated, their mention might be just as politically motivated as not.

Some dissertation acknowledgements are quite lengthy.  However, learners should let their own conscience be their guide.  Some students feel it is important to mention absolutely everyone who had even the slightest influence on the work and others feel it is only necessary to mention those who had the most influence.

Viewpoint of Author #2

A thesis acknowledgement is a tribute to the individuals who have assisted a writer in the completion of his or her project.  Thesis acknowledgements are typically placed somewhere in the front matter of a senior, master's, or doctoral thesis.  A thesis acknowledgement is different from a thesis dedication.  A thesis is commonly dedicated to one or few individuals who the writer would like to honor.  Thesis acknowledgements, however, note individuals who have assisted in the development and execution of the writer's thesis project.  It is common for thesis acknowledgements to follow the thesis dedication.

Some writers are overzealous in their acknowledgements and attempt to thank all of the individuals who have assisted them in their academic pursuits from kindergarten on.  This should be avoided.  Thesis acknowledgments should be kept to one page or less and should focus solely on the contributors to the writer's thesis project.  Though previous mentors and teachers have certainly contributed to the writer's development as a thinker, it is best to leave a litany of thanks for speeches.  A thesis acknowledgement should match the professional and sophisticated tone of any long and original academic text by being concise and gracious and by focusing only on the most important contributors to the thesis.  For instance, it is common and courteous to acknowledge the student's thesis advisor and committee.  In addition, thesis acknowledgements should note any important individuals aside from the committee that contributed to the project, such as readers or other mentors.  The student may also wish to thank his or her department for its support of the project, and some writers choose to acknowledge any writing coaches or editors that assisted with the thesis composition.  If the thesis reports on a study that utilized participants, it is appropriate to acknowledge the study participants for their time and contributions.

Each individual noted in a thesis acknowledgement should be addressed by his or her full, professional name and title and should be briefly thanked for his or her specific contribution to the project.  For instance, the writer may state, "I thank my advisor, Dr. Paul L. Smith, for his support and guidance throughout the project; the University Writing Center, for its assistance with refining the finished document; and the Department of Physics, for its permission to carry out this research."

On occasion, writers wish to acknowledge specific family members or friends who have supported them through the duration of the thesis project.  This is also appropriate.

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