How to write acknowledgements for a thesis

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What is an acknowledgement and what is its purpose?

The acknowledgement section is one of the sections of a bachelor’s or master’s thesis, dissertation, research paper, etc. destined to show your appreciation of the persons who took part in your research, contributed to your project, or provided any kind of support. In other words, this section is a way for the author to say a thank you to all those whose contribution they recognise as important.

How to write the acknowledgement section for a PhD thesis or dissertation

We are going to provide the basic guidelines below but please make sure to review the style guide of your university or department, as each institution might have some specific requirements as regards the contents and/or formatting of the acknowledgement section in your thesis.

So, here are several key recommendations for writing the acknowledgement section.

Whom to thank in the acknowledgement

This is up to you to decide whom to acknowledge. Select those persons who indeed contributed to your research or helped you perform your duties. In general, there are two main groups of persons to consider: professionals and personal acquaintances.

Professional acknowledgements

You can say a thank you to your:

  • Thesis supervisor.
  • Thesis opponents.
  • Co-authors of your scientific papers.
  • Research participants.
  • Colleagues.
  • Companies providing funding.
  • Any other individuals or entities who anyhow contributed to the effective process of writing the dissertation.

Acknowledging the contribution of professionals is important from the perspective of academic integrity but also in terms of scientific ethics.

When addressing professionals, make sure to write their names in full and include their titles (e.g. associate professor at the Department…, PhD, etc.). This is important for identifying the contributors unequivocally. At the same time, it also makes your research look more credible and professional.

Personal acknowledgements

These include any persons other than professionals whom you would like to thank, e.g.:

  • Parents or relatives (father/mother, grandparents, husband/wife, children, etc.).
  • Friends.
  • People who inspired or supported you.

Do not include any personal details, except the first name and last name (e.g. avoid giving the age, the place of living, etc.).

Language and style

The acknowledgement section differs from the rest of your PhD thesis, as it does not relate directly to the research, is addressing your readers, and thus can be less formal.

  1. Keep your language simple. Avoid complex and long phrases. Keep everything simple and straightforward.
  2. Your writing can be more informal. In the acknowledgement section, you can use more appealing and emotive language. Furthermore, you can use sentences in the first person (while you should use the impersonal or the passive form when presenting the results of your research in the body of your thesis).
  3. Remain within the academic framework. While the acknowledgement section is more informal, do not push too hard and remain within the framework of academic writing.
  4. Do not use dotted lists for names. Mention all the persons in sentences, do not present their names as dotted or numbered lists.

Length of the acknowledgement section

Your acknowledgement section should never be too long. As a rule, it should be at most 1 page. Do not try to overextend this section if less is sufficient for thanking your contributors.

Where to put the acknowledgement in the thesis

Most often, your acknowledgement goes after the abstract and before the table of contents or between the declaration and the table of contents. Please check the guidelines of your university or department.

Structure of the acknowledgement section

While it is up to you to choose (remember that your university might also have some guidelines for this), we can generally recommend the following structure for your acknowledgement:

  1. Brief introduction (one or a few sentences: why you are writing this section and why you need to acknowledge someone).
  2. Gratitude to your supervisor.
  3. Recognition of the other professional contributors.
  4. Recognition of personal supporters.

Thesis acknowledgement examples

Here are a few sample acknowledgements to give you an idea of how you can do it in your thesis.

Sample acknowledgement – supervisors

First and foremost, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to my supervisors who guided, instructed, and motivated me. Your feedback allowed me deepening and refining my research, and the results presented in my thesis would be impossible without your supervision.

Sample acknowledgement – companies and entities

I would like to acknowledge the financial and organisational support provided by Company X. I would also like to thank the Economics Department of University Y for the technical support.

Sample acknowledgement – individuals and relatives

Finally, I express my profound gratitude to my beloved husband James who continuously supported me, sacrificed his time, and always believed in me.


  • Write the acknowledgement section in the end – once you have written the body of your thesis and have completed your research. This will allow avoiding redundant work.
  • While the acknowledgement section is important, remember that the main part is the body of your thesis. In addition to running an in-depth research and achieve academic results, you also need to reference correctly the sources you have used. This is where Grafiati can help you: use our service to get perfect references, avoid unintentional plagiarism, and cite your sources correctly.

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