You have possibly spent years writing a dissertation, and finally, the end is in sight! Years of work are concluded with an acknowledgments section.
Writing a dissertation demands a lot of time and effort, and it is not unusual to spend months or years on a document. During this intensive period, many people will have assisted you. To express your gratitude in a personal way, you can include these people in the acknowledgments section of your dissertation. Individuals that are often named in a dissertation’s acknowledgments are supervisors, colleagues, and of course friends and family.
It is customary to, for example, thank those who have contributed to your interviews. This occurs when you have visited a company that allowed you to consult documents or conduct archival research. Additionally, you naturally thank any supervisors for useful feedback and critical comments. At the end, your dissertation became a success story because of them.
As soon as the formal part has been concluded, you can make the acknowledgments section of your dissertation a bit more personal. Here, you can focus on thanking family members and your partner. They are the ones that were there for you after a long working day, and spent time supporting you personally. You can for example mention in the acknowledgments how you came up with your subject and who inspired you in this.
No, including a personal acknowledgments section in the dissertation is not obligatory, but it is recommended. A dissertation can feel quite formal and impersonal, because it is written in the third person. By writing a preface and an acknowledgments section, the document becomes personal. Moreover, it gives a good impression, because it shows that you are grateful for all the help you received.
You can also choose to limit yourself to writing a preface. It is a bit redundant to do both, since they contain roughly the same content. To thank people before and after the main work is unnecessary. In the preface, you thank the people who helped you, and you provide some extra information about the document. You can decide which of these two better suits your own dissertation. An acknowledgments section in any case always constitutes a nice closing section for your document.
Let’s simplify things a bit. So, what do you begin with when writing a personal acknowledgments section? First of all, it is important to opt for a lively and personal start. Provide the reader with some insight into your personal process, to kindle their enthusiasm and inspire them. People feel more involved in work that is written in a personal, not-too-distant way. Don’t hesitate to insert a fun anecdote or a short, funny story.
Write the acknowledgments section in the first person singular or plural to achieve an informal, personal style. Address the reader directly in the acknowledgments by for example stating at the end: “I hope you thoroughly enjoy reading this dissertation.” Close with your name, location, and date.
Writing a dissertation requires some creative input, but as soon as you have a first draft, it’s a question of editing and fine-tuning the text. Therefore, we recommend that you do not try to write perfect sentences right away or think about word choice too much. It’s easier to first write down roughly everything you want to say, and then enter the process of editing, scrapping or adding words. Some parts have to be included in the acknowledgments section. You can decide on the order yourself, but if you wish to maintain a logical order, we recommend you begin with the history and background of the dissertation.
For the history part, you can describe in a few sentences how your dissertation came to be, and whether you wrote it on behalf of a commissioning party. As soon as you have outlined this, you can write a short piece on your personal background. Subsequently, you describe your experiences and the circumstances surrounding your research. Describe how tasks were divided within your group, if applicable, or which divisions existed within the group. The acknowledgments section is also the place where you can thank the group for an enjoyable working relationship and a pleasant atmosphere. At the end, the acknowledgments section is addressed to external parties, who contributed as companies or teachers. Therefore, take care to avoid evaluating the working relationship with the group.
Before you begin writing your acknowledgments section, it’s advisable to look at some examples from other dissertations. In this way, you get an idea of how others have tackled this task, and you can use these examples to achieve the desired result more quickly. Many databases are available online, where you can take a look at some examples.
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