I received help with some aspects of my PhD thesis from a tutor (proofreading and graphics). Of the help I received, some mathematical notation they provided made it into my thesis.

However, I did not acknowledge the tutor in the PhD thesis for this help (since received).

Is there anything I could (or should) do to rectify this?

  • 8
    Flowers? Chocolates? Offers of a return favour?
    – A E
    Commented Jan 27, 2015 at 17:04
  • 1
    Do you see this as a politeness issue or as an issue of scientific ethics? I.e., are you concerned about making the other one angry for not mentioning them or about being accused of having infringed against good practices by not citing/mentioning the contribution of this person? Commented Jan 27, 2015 at 17:48
  • @Benedikt Bauer: This question is about academic ethics. The help was not intended to be with the research itself, but mathematical notation and plotting routines in code can be interpreted as such.
    – dhunter
    Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 13:24

3 Answers 3


If ever the thesis is published elsewhere, say as a paper in a journal or a conference, or perhaps as a technical report, include the name of the person there.

  • If allowed for his thesis, would it then be a good idea to upload it with a revised acknowledgement on arxiv?
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 9:48
  • @Lilienthal, I understand that the arXiv clearly handles revisions (linking to earlier versions and dating all of them) so I think doing what you suggest would not be a problem.
    – JRN
    Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 10:25
  • So it would also work if he had already uploaded it before? Good to know.
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 10:30
  • I'm not that familiar with arXiv, but I understand that it would work. If the OP uploaded it another way, then perhaps the revisions won't be handled correctly.
    – JRN
    Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 10:31
  • @Lilienthal, by the way, your comment also seems to be relevant to Dave Rose's answer.
    – JRN
    Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 10:32

It's probably not a huge deal. Not many people read theses and probably even fewer scan the acknowledgements. In the worst case you might figuratively have stepped on the persons toes. I would send them an e-mail or perhaps a postcard with apologies for forgetting to mention them. That probably suffices — their career is not going to depend on you mentioning them in the acknowledgements.


You might be able to edit the acknowledgement section of the electronic version of you thesis. Contact the university library yourself or through the postgraduate student service.

  • 3
    good workaround. It can appear in the errata section
    – malarres
    Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 9:08

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