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How to Write Acknowledgements

by Margaret Kay, Demand Media

    The acknowledgments section of a dissertation or research report allows the author to recognize and thank those who helped contribute to the finished product. Unlike a dedication, acknowledgments should mention only those who directly influenced the work. It is useful to jot down the names of people worthy of acknowledgment throughout the research and writing process to ensure you do not forget anyone. Wording the acknowledgments is fairly simple, as it merely involves listing names and adding statements of genuine gratitude.

    Step 1

    Create a list of people who contributed or influenced your dissertation or report in some way. Write the names down as you go, rather than waiting to compile the list once the project is completed. If your adviser guided you through your research, helping to revise your writing and giving you advice throughout the process, then he deserves a mention in the acknowledgments section of the final work. Other possible people you might wish to include are those who provided financial support for your project and any participants in your study. According to Jennifer Widom of Stanford University, "If in doubt about whether to include someone, include them" to avoid hurting anyone's feelings."

    Step 2

    Begin the acknowledgments section with a statement of gratitude and explain why the following people have made the work what it is. Follow the statement with a colon and the list of names you wish to acknowledge. If you want to single out certain people individually, write a specific statement of gratitude for each person. For example, write brief, personal messages such as, "Thank you to my adviser Dr. Smith for all of his wisdom and tireless assistance."

    Step 3

    Avoid acknowledging people who did not directly contribute to the work. According to Arizona University, you should not "thank Mom and Dad for bringing you into the world, or your roommate for making your coffee." However, if you feel that your family's and friends' support was a crucial influence in the final product, it is OK to mention them in that regard.

    Step 4

    Place the acknowledgments section either at the beginning of the work, after the abstract and before the table of contents or at the end of the work after the conclusion and before the references. Ask your adviser or consult your institution's writing guides to determine which placement is best for your work.

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    About the Author

    Margaret Kay has worked as a freelance writer since 2009. She has worked as a contributor to "The Gonzaga Bulletin." Kay has recently completed her Master of Theology in media ethics at the University of Edinburgh.

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