How to Write Dissertation Acknowledgments Properly

To those unfamiliar to the writing process, the acknowledgments section of your dissertation is the academic equivalent to your Grammy acceptance speech. You use it to thank the relevant people who may have assisted you in performing your research. This seems like a wonderful exercise in gratitude until you actually try it. Here are some tips to help you navigate the quagmire of acknowledgments.

Start with your start

You can begin your acknowledgments with an explanation of how it is you reached to this point in your academic career in the first place. If you can, wax poetic about your upbringing and how it’s made you into the functional adult and talented academic that you currently are. You can include a short anecdote too if a good one comes to mind. If, however, you often find yourself putting your foot in your mouth and run the risk of offending someone, ere on the side of caution and brevity.

Pour on the gratitude

This is the part where you thank the academy. Metaphorically speaking of course. This is also the part where you might attract some unwanted attention if you choose to thank someone currently in disgrace with the academic community or you don’t thank someone who may be expecting you to and may even be marking your dissertation. Even if you think you’re safe in this section because it does not count for marks in the traditional sense, never forget that it’s being graded by human beings. These people can feel hurt and proceed through the rest of your work in a foul mood just looking for reasons to mark you poorly.

Dedicate the whole thing

This can be a good place to show additional gratitude to someone who was especially helpful. If your work involved a particular company allowing you access to their records you can thank them for their assistance by dedicating the dissertation to them. If your work was based on the suffering of a particular group of migrant orphans the dissertation can be just as easily dedicated to them with an additional expression of goodwill or hope for a better future.

Nobody has ever completed a perfect acknowledgment. Perfection itself can be so very subjective. The best you can do as a writer is give the process your all and try not to step on any toes in the process.

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