In this article you will learn about how to write acknowledgements for PhD Thesis and Dissertations with examples. Also, you will get to know about its importance.
What is an acknowledgement Section?
The acknowledgements section provides you with the chance to express gratitude towards individuals who have offered personal and professional support throughout your thesis or dissertation journey.
Typically placed between the title page and abstract, the acknowledgements should be limited to one page.
In this section, a more informal writing style and the use of first-person pronouns are acceptable, deviating from the usual academic writing conventions. Acknowledgements are not considered a formal part of the academic work but serve as an opportunity to add a personal touch to your expression of gratitude.
The Purpose of Acknowledgements
In a thesis or dissertation, the acknowledgments section serves to express gratitude towards those who provided support during the PhD journey. This includes individuals, institutions, or organizations that played a role in the research process.
While acknowledgments are not evaluated for the academic content, they hold significance in shaping the reader’s perception. It can influence the reader’s impression even before they delve into the main content of the work.
It is advisable to refer to your university’s guidelines for any specific rules or preferences regarding the order, wording, or layout of acknowledgements. While some institutions prioritize maintaining strictly professional acknowledgements, it is generally a good practice to begin with professional acknowledgements, followed by personal ones. You can then proceed to rank the individuals you wish to thank, prioritizing from the most formal to the least formal.
Who Should Be Acknowledged?
The decision on whom to thank falls on the author, but special attention should be given to the “professional” group. Neglecting to thank someone who contributed significantly to the studies, whether intentional or accidental, may be seen as a dismissal of their efforts. This can be unfair, particularly if they genuinely assisted, and may also affect future collaborative opportunities.
- Funding bodies/sponsorship providers
- Research group and lab assistants
- Research participants
It’s essential to note that some universities have specific policies that include only those directly supporting the work, such as supervisors and professors, in acknowledgments. It is recommended to review the university guidelines before composing this section of the thesis.
Order of Acknowledgements
- Chairpersons, Head of Department, supervisors, professors, or defense committees
- Funding bodies/sponsorship providers
- Other academics (e.g., colleagues or cohort members)
- Editors or proofreaders
- Librarians, research/laboratory assistants, or study participants
- Family, friends
Typically, it is sufficient to acknowledge individuals who directly contributed to your research journey, from aiding in selecting your dissertation topic to providing final proofreading assistance. However, if someone, such as a college IT teacher, had a significant impact on inspiring your current research, you are free to include them as well.
It is vital not to overlook anyone who offered professional assistance during your thesis or dissertation completion. As a general rule, individuals who played a direct role in your research process, from guiding your dissertation to its final stages, should be acknowledged.
Consider the following points:
- Even if you feel your chairperson’s contribution was minimal, it is still essential to thank them first to avoid any appearance of neglect.
- Adhere to academic conventions by using full names with appropriate titles.
- If multiple members of a group or organization provided assistance, mention the collective name only.
- Be mindful of ethical considerations when handling anonymized data. If you wish to protect someone’s privacy, use only their first name or a generic identifier (e.g., “the interviewees”).
There is no need to mention every member of your family or friend group. However, if someone provided exceptional inspiration or support, it is appropriate to acknowledge them specifically. Many individuals choose to thank parents, partners, children, friends, but you may include anyone who offered moral support, encouragement, or tangible and intangible assistance.
Some students may dedicate their dissertation to an influential person who has passed away. In such cases, it is acceptable to mention them first, preceding any professional acknowledgements.
Tips for Writing Acknowledgements
After compiling a list of individuals you wish to thank, organize them into different rank categories: “major thanks,” “big thanks,” and “minor thanks.”
- “Major thanks” should be reserved for those whose contributions were indispensable to your project. These acknowledgements often encompass professional thanks, such as your advisor, chairperson, committee members, and funders.
- “Big thanks” are for those who supported you along the way and contributed to your intellectual growth, such as classmates, peers, or librarians.
- “Minor thanks” can encompass all others, particularly those who provided moral support or encouragement. This category may include personal acknowledgements like parents, partners, children, friends.
Phrasing Your Acknowledgements
To avoid repetitive or monotonous acknowledgements, consider varying your phrasing. Below are some examples of common sentence starters that can be used for each category:
- “I am deeply grateful to…”
- “I would like to express my sincere gratitude to…”
- “I extend my special thanks to…”
- “I would like to offer my heartfelt appreciation to…”
By employing these guidelines, you can create acknowledgements that effectively convey your appreciation to those who supported you throughout your academic journey.
|Major thanks||Big thanks||Minor thanks|
|I am deeply indebted to||Many thanks to||I would be remiss in not mentioning|
|I would like to express my deepest appreciation to||Special thanks to||I’d like to acknowledge|
|I would like to express my deepest gratitude to||I am also thankful to/for||Thanks should also go to|
|I’m extremely grateful to||I would like to extend my sincere thanks to||Lastly, I’d like to mention|
|This endeavor would not have been possible without||I am also grateful to/for||I had the pleasure of working with/collaborating with|
|I could not have undertaken this journey without|
|Words cannot express my gratitude to|
It is important to note that there is no requirement to include a conclusion or summary at the end of the acknowledgements section. Simply concluding with the final expression of gratitude or thank you is sufficient.
Example of Acknowledgements Section
Example # 1
I would like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt gratitude to all the individuals and institutions who have supported and guided me throughout this journey of completing my thesis. Your unwavering support and encouragement have been invaluable, and I am deeply grateful for all that you have done.
First and foremost, I extend my sincere thanks to my esteemed supervisors, Dr. John Smith and Prof. Jane Doe. Their expert guidance, constructive feedback, and endless patience have been instrumental in shaping the outcome of this research. I am truly fortunate to have had the opportunity to work under their mentorship.
I am also deeply indebted to the funding bodies that provided financial support for this project. Their generosity made it possible for me to conduct the necessary research and experiments, and I am grateful for their investment in my academic pursuits.
My gratitude also extends to the members of my research group and lab assistants who tirelessly contributed to the success of this study. Their collaboration and dedication have been a source of inspiration and motivation.
I would like to acknowledge the valuable insights and contributions of my colleagues and cohort members. Our discussions and interactions have enriched my understanding and enhanced the quality of my work.
Special thanks are due to the editors and proofreaders who meticulously reviewed my thesis, ensuring its clarity and coherence. Their keen eye for detail has improved the overall presentation of this work.
I am grateful to the librarians who provided invaluable assistance in accessing research materials and resources. Their support significantly facilitated the compilation of relevant literature for this thesis.
I personally want to express my gratitude to my partner for their constant support and affection during this journey.Their belief in my abilities has been a constant source of strength.
Lastly, I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to my family and friends for their constant support, understanding, and encouragement. Your presence in my life has been a driving force behind my academic achievements.
To all those whose names may not appear in this acknowledgement but have contributed in any way, I express my sincere thanks. Your influence and support have been invaluable.
Lastly, I am truly grateful to each and every individual and institution that has played a role in shaping this thesis. Your belief in my potential and dedication to my success have been the pillars of this achievement. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.
Example # 2
I am deeply grateful to my professor and chair of my committee for her invaluable patience and feedback throughout this journey. Her guidance and support have been instrumental in shaping the outcome of this research.
I extend my heartfelt thanks to my defense committee members, who generously provided their knowledge and expertise during the evaluation process. Their valuable insights and constructive criticism have significantly improved this thesis.
I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the MacArthur Foundation for their generous support and funding, without which this research would not have been possible. Their investment in my work has been instrumental in driving its success.
I am also indebted to my classmates and cohort members, particularly my office mates, for their invaluable editing assistance, late-night feedback sessions, and unwavering moral support. Their camaraderie has made this academic journey more enjoyable and rewarding.
Special thanks go to the librarians, research assistants, and study participants from the university who have contributed to this research. Their contributions and inspiration have enriched the quality of this work.
Lastly, I cannot overlook the immense support and encouragement from my family, especially my parents, spouse, and children. Their belief in my abilities and unwavering support have been a constant source of motivation.
Dos and Don’ts for Acknowledgements
- Provide full names, titles, and roles of the individuals you acknowledge for their professional contributions.
- Use first-person and maintain a professional tone in your writing.
- Acknowledge the personal or intangible supporters, such as friends, family, and even pets, who have been instrumental in your journey.
- Prioritize thanking your professional contacts and supporters who played a significant role in your work.
- When acknowledging research participants or non-individual contributors, ensure appropriate anonymization or group acknowledgment.
- Acknowledge funding bodies and specify the areas they supported in your research or project.
- Mention individuals who had only a peripheral or minor impact on your work, keeping the focus on those who significantly contributed to your research.
- Utilize informal language or slang in your acknowledgements.
- Exceed the length of one page for your acknowledgements section.
How to Write Acknowledgements for a PhD Thesis?
The writing style in this section can be more informal compared to the rest of the thesis, allowing the use of first-person language and emotive expressions. However, maintaining a professional tone is advisable as this section is one of the first things assessors read, setting the tone for the entire work.
In terms of structure, acknowledgments should acknowledge the most formal support first before moving on to less formal support. This generally follows the order outlined in the “Who Should I Thank” section.
When thanking professionals, writing out their full names and titles is recommended. Although the author may be familiar with them on a first-name basis, readers of the thesis may not be. Providing full names and titles ensures clarity and contributes to the credibility of the thesis, especially if the individual being thanked is well-known in the field.
If a list of individuals from an institution or organization is included, listing their names alphabetically is best, except for cases where a particular individual provided significant assistance; in such cases, listing them separately is advisable.
Length of Acknowledgements
Acknowledgments can vary considerably in length, ranging from a single paragraph to multiple pages, depending on the number of individuals to recognize. It is generally recommended to keep the acknowledgments section to a single page to maintain clarity and sincerity in expressing gratitude to those who provided the most support.
Placement of Acknowledgements
In most cases, acknowledgments should appear immediately after the abstract and before the table of contents. However, it is advisable to consult university guidelines, as some institutions may have specific orders they expect authors to follow.
Overall, the acknowledgments section is a crucial aspect of a thesis or dissertation, allowing authors to extend thanks and recognition to those who contributed to the successful completion of their PhD journey.