Writing a PhD Dissertation Acknowledgment

The acknowledgment in a dissertation is where you thank everyone that supported and helped you during the research and writing of your dissertation. This is usually put right after the title page, but some professors prefer it to be after the abstract. Make sure you check what the usual format for your field is in particular. The acknowledgment page is a chance to give credit to otherwise anonymous helping hands like academic staff, researchers, your supervisor or advisor, and other people who might have provided you guidance such as other students, librarians, colleagues, interviewees, and anybody else that had a significant impact on the success of your dissertation.

When you’re writing your acknowledgment, know that not every dissertation has to have one. If you’re required to, then of course do, but if you aren’t, then you don’t necessarily have to. As well, not every single person should be mentioned. Talk to your advisor about including certain people, especially outside of the academic realm, and don’t include someone just because you think they expect it or because you should. Although it is a good idea to credit everyone who had a big impact on your work, the smaller things sometimes should go unmentioned. It really depends on your field and unique situation.

Make sure that you come off as very grateful to everyone who helped you in your acknowledgment page. You can put some personality into it, such as noting unusual contributions or mentioning a cheeky reminder of debts to people who’ve taught you researching skills. This can have a more conversational tone than the rest of your dissertation, but still avoid any kind of profanity or slang, because it could offend as well as look very silly in a few years from now.

The one thing that should be avoided in all acknowledgments is hate. Don’t mention something that someone did to set you back, or an annoying professor’s wrong advice, because this sounds more like a whining teenager to most people than a well-meaning adult.

Lastly, make it personal. Instead of just a long list of names, say what the person did to help you out. If they had a sense of humor that got you through that awful first semester, say it. Congratulate things like hooking you up with an assistant that ended up being just what you needed, or offering moral support when you felt like quitting.