How to Write Acknowledgements for Your Dissertation (And What NOT to Include)

If you’re looking for insights into how to write acknowledgements for your dissertation, chances are you are coming to the end of what has been a long journey of countless hours of research, discussion, and revision. You may be tempted to rush the acknowledgments section; after all, the main content of the dissertation is where it’s all at.

How to write the dissertation acknowledgements section

However, the acknowledgements section serves an important purpose: it provides a space to express gratitude to those who supported you along the way. This section, typically a concise statement located at the beginning of your dissertation, allows you to thank everyone who contributed to your academic journey, from advisors and peers to family and friends.

However, writing effective acknowledgements requires a balance of professionalism and personal touch, and it’s important to strike the right tone to convey genuine gratitude without coming across as too informal. This is where dissertation editing services can be useful.

In this article, we will explore how to craft sincere acknowledgements for your dissertation, highlight whom to include and whom you might consider leaving out, and discuss the common pitfalls to avoid.

Understanding the Acknowledgements Section of a Dissertation

The acknowledgements section of a dissertation allows the author to express gratitude to those who played a significant role in their academic journey. In terms of the overall structure, the acknowledgements is typically placed after the dissertation abstract and before the table of contents. This section is your opportunity to acknowledge the support and assistance you received. The tone of the acknowledgements should be formal yet personal, reflecting genuine appreciation without deviating into informality or colloquialisms.

Purpose and Placement

The main purpose of the acknowledgements section is to thank those who have contributed to your scholarly work, either directly or indirectly. It serves as a formal gesture of appreciation and is a testament to the collaborative nature of academic pursuits. As it is one of the first sections readers encounter, it sets the tone for the document and offers a glimpse into the personal academic relationships and support network behind the research.

Tone and Style

When writing your acknowledgements, aim for a tone that is both professional and warm. The language should be straightforward and respectful, avoiding overly elaborate expressions or informal terms. While it is personal, maintaining a level of professionalism is key to respecting the formal academic framework and structure of your dissertation.

If you’re looking for more specific insights into the right tone and style for a dissertation, see our guide to how to write a dissertation.

Good vs. Bad Acknowledgements in Dissertations

To help illustrate the difference between effective and ineffective acknowledgements, here is a comparative table:

Aspect Good Acknowledgements Example Bad Acknowledgements Example
Tone Warm yet professional; expresses genuine gratitude. Overly casual, uses slang, or is humorously off-tone.
Content Clearly mentions specific contributions of each acknowledged person. Vague or overly generic; lacks specificity in gratitude.
Length Concise; long enough to mention key contributors, but not overly lengthy. Either too brief to be meaningful or excessively long and rambling.
Professionalism Maintains a professional tone even while being heartfelt. Too personal or informal, potentially including inappropriate details about social relationships or events.
Focus Focuses on academic and supportive contributions related to the dissertation. Focuses on personal anecdotes or irrelevant details that do not pertain to the academic or supportive nature of the contributions.


Who to Acknowledge

Choosing whom to thank in your dissertation acknowledgements can be a reflective process. Here’s a guide to consider when deciding who makes it into your acknowledgements:

  • Academic advisors and committee members: These are the people who have provided you with direct, substantial academic guidance and support throughout your research. Mention them specifically, noting how they helped you.
  • Other faculty and staff: Include faculty members who have been influential in your academic career, even if not directly part of your dissertation process. Also, consider thanking administrative and support staff who have assisted you with administrative tasks or provided necessary resources.
  • Peers and colleagues: Thank peers who contributed directly or indirectly to your project. This might include fellow graduate students or colleagues in your field who offered insights or moral support.
  • Family and friends: Acknowledging family and friends is optional but common. It’s appropriate to thank them for emotional and practical support, but keep this section concise and focused on how they helped facilitate your academic work.

Should you Thank Your Proofreader in Your Acknowledgements Section?

Yes, it is appropriate and often recommended to thank your proofreader in the acknowledgements section of your dissertation. Proofreaders play a crucial role in refining your work, ensuring clarity, correctness, and coherence in your writing. Acknowledging their contribution not only shows your gratitude but also reflects your commitment to producing a high-quality document.

When thanking your proofreader, consider these points:

  • Be specific about their contribution: Mention how their proofreading improved your dissertation, such as their help with grammar, punctuation, style, or clarity.
  • Keep it professional: Even if your proofreader is a close friend or family member as opposed to a formal dissertation proofreading service, the acknowledgements should maintain a professional tone, focusing on their role in relation to your academic work.
  • Express genuine thanks: A simple, sincere expression of gratitude often resonates more than overly effusive praise.

For more insights into what is, and is not permissible, see our guide to editing services for your dissertation

How to Write Acknowledge for Your Dissertation

Writing the acknowledgements section involves striking the right balance of professional tone and personal sentiment. Here are some tips to help:

  • Start with formal thanks: Begin by thanking your academic mentors and anyone who contributed directly to the dissertation. This sets a professional tone.


I am profoundly grateful to my supervisor, Professor Anna Thompson, for her invaluable guidance and steadfast support throughout the course of this research. Her expertise and insightful critiques have been crucial in shaping this work.

  • Be specific: Detail the nature of the support you received. This not only personalizes the acknowledgement but also makes it more meaningful.


Special thanks to Dr. Mark Lee, whose expertise in statistical analysis was instrumental in interpreting the data for Chapter 4. His detailed feedback and suggestions significantly enhanced the accuracy of the results presented.

  • Maintain brevity: While it’s important to cover all significant contributors, avoid overly lengthy descriptions. A concise thank you is often more powerful.


I extend my gratitude to the staff at the University Library for their assistance in sourcing rare materials, and to my colleagues in the research group for their encouragement and insightful discussions.

  • Close on a personal note: After acknowledging professional support, you can briefly mention personal supporters like family and friends.


Finally, I would like to thank my family for their unwavering love and support during my studies. To my partner, Emma, thank you for your patience and understanding, which made all the difference during my busiest times.

What Not to Include in Your Acknowledgements Section

While the acknowledgements section offers some flexibility, certain elements are best left out:

  • Overly personal information: Avoid sharing overly personal or private details about your life or the lives of those you are thanking. Keep the focus academic and professionally relevant.

Avoid: “I would like to thank my partner, Alex, for enduring endless nights of takeout and putting up with my grumpy moods when the data analysis seemed endless. Your hugs made all the difference.”

Instead: “I am grateful to my partner, Alex, for the constant support and patience throughout the duration of my studies.”

  • Controversial or negative comments: This is not the venue to air grievances or critique the institution, colleagues, or processes. Maintain a positive tone throughout.

Avoid: “Thanks to the university administration for finally processing my application after several unnecessary delays, and to Professor Smith for eventually providing the guidance promised at the start of my project.”

Instead: “I appreciate the university administration for their assistance with my application and Professor Smith for his guidance.”

  • Jokes and informal language: While a light-hearted touch can be endearing if done tastefully, avoid any form of humor that might be misinterpreted or deemed unprofessional.

Avoid: “Big shoutout to my lab rats for not blowing anything up this semester and keeping the coffee pot full during those all-nighters!”

Instead: “I extend my thanks to my laboratory colleagues for their diligent work and for maintaining a supportive team environment.”

  • Excessive flattery: While it’s appropriate to express gratitude, overly effusive praise can seem insincere. Keep your acknowledgements genuine and grounded.

Avoid: “I am immensely indebted to the world’s best advisor, Dr. Jones, whose unparalleled genius and boundless knowledge transformed my humble efforts into groundbreaking research.”

Instead: “I am thankful to Dr. Jones for his expert guidance and valuable insights, which greatly contributed to the success of my research.”

Example of a Great Dissertation Acknowledgements Section

I would like to express my deepest gratitude to my advisor, Professor Linda Roberts, whose expertise, understanding, and patience, added considerably to my graduate experience. Her willingness to give her time so generously has been very much appreciated. I thank her for her guidance and constant encouragement throughout the course of this research.

My sincere thanks also go to the members of my thesis committee, Dr. James Park and Dr. Susan Cho, for their insightful comments and suggestions, which have been invaluable throughout the entire research process.

I am also grateful to my colleagues in the Department of Molecular Biology at XYZ University for their help and support. In particular, I wish to acknowledge Dr. Henry Adams for his assistance with the electron microscopy part of my project. His expertise in cell imaging has greatly contributed to the quality of my work.

I must also thank the staff of the XYZ University libraries for their tireless assistance in helping me track down resources and manage an immense amount of data. Their help has been a cornerstone in the completion of this dissertation.

Special thanks to my friends and family, who provided me with unfailing support and continuous encouragement throughout my years of study and through the process of researching and writing this dissertation. This accomplishment would not have been possible without them. Thank you to my mother for her personal support and to my partner for providing a peaceful home environment in which to write.

Finally, I would like to express my gratitude to my fellow graduate students for all the productive discussions as well as the fun times we have had over the years.

This research was funded by the XYZ Research Grant, which has been a financial lifeline. I am grateful for the support provided by this funding.


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