I am writing my masters thesis now. I saw some theses with the acknowledgement chapter after the abstract, in other cases it's the other way around.

I think the acknowledgement chapter is not related to the scientific work in the thesis, and thus should not be put between the abstract and the introduction. An abstract could be nice in the beginning if we're looking at a paper for example, but for a thesis (usually >80 pages) the reader would have to turn the pages anyway.


You should check the guidelines from your university. I'd assume that they would have requirements for the order. If not, I always prefer the acknowledgements should come first, that way the non-scientific stuff is out of the way.

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    Highly country dependent. In Germany, at least at my University, we had 0 (that is, literally zero) requirements, nor guidelines. – Konrad Rudolph Jun 18 '12 at 9:15
  • @KonradRudolph lucky man. – Zenon Jun 20 '12 at 14:46
  • @Zenon No guidelines is not necessarily lucky, because you are still judged on your choices. – user781 Jun 22 '12 at 12:37
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    Just to illustrate how strange requirements can get, my doctoral thesis had to have the abstract first. I don't just mean before the acknowledgements, but before the title page. – Luke Mathieson Oct 8 '12 at 10:43

Actually, under normal circumstances, I would expect the abstract to be as close to the front of a thesis as possible. The reason for this is to make the job of cataloging and searching easier. Abstracts of theses are indexed by services such as ProQuest, and having to wade through additional pages of material makes their work harder.

That said, scientifics is correct in that you should follow whatever regulations your university has. But in general, in the absence of such guidelines, I would put the abstract before the acknowledgments—readers want to know as soon as possible if they should bother to read the rest of your thesis. Burying it after the front matter makes it less likely for them to invest the time.

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Just adding my two cents: around me, people commonly print out and bind their thesis in such a way that the one-page abstract is on the back cover. I think it makes a lot of sense, and allows one to get an idea of what the thesis is about without flipping pages (literally).

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I would prefer to put acknowledgement before the Abstract so that I will be done with the preliminaries first, so that when one reads Abstract he will have started looking at the actual content. To me acknowledgement coming between the Abstract and the introduction is a disruption. But the guidelines of the University are to be followed.

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