How is it received by the academia if someone thanks to his/her girlfriend/boyfriend in the acknowledgements of the thesis?

I have seen writers including his/her fiancee in the acknowledgements, however I don't know if including an informal relationship in the thesis will be received well.

If it is acceptable, how should I refer to my girlfriend?

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    @Moriarty: I wasn’t necessarily talking about a sexual relationship. Though I am no expert, I am pretty sure that publically stating that there is somebody who is just your girlfriend is at least pretty bad idea in Saudi Arabia, for example.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Feb 8, 2015 at 23:12
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    @user1938107 I'm very comfortable with the acknowledgement of my ex that is in my thesis. That relationship may have ended, but the help I acknowledged still happened.
    – jakebeal
    Feb 8, 2015 at 23:15
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    I thanked a fictional dog in my thesis. Nobody cared. Or noticed.
    – JeffE
    Feb 9, 2015 at 3:27
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    I'm pretty sure that no one has ever read the acknowledgements page of my thesis (including my PhD advisor). There's always the old joke about sticking a $20 bill into your thesis in the library and coming back 10 years later to find it still there... Feb 9, 2015 at 6:31
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    Dunno about thesis, but my BSc ticket is still taped inside its cardboard tube, 38 years after I received it. Nobody has ever asked to see it, so I never opened it. I daren't open it now in case, instead of a degree certificate, it contains merely a 'You're joking, surely!' note from my prof. Feb 9, 2015 at 15:29

2 Answers 2


The acknowledgements section is really yours to do with as you wish. You can thank anybody who has been of help and support to you, no matter how formal or informal your relationship with them is. You can make the relationship explicit or not, however you prefer. Thus, for example, it is equally valid to write:

Thank you to Jane Smith, for all her love and support


Thank you to my girlfriend Jane Smith, for all her love and support

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    @keshlam's answer
    – Lilienthal
    Feb 9, 2015 at 13:33
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    Sadly, for a thesis this might not be the case. Check the rules of your institute! In my home country, the University of Leiden is somewhat infamous for forbidding "excessively long non-academic acknowledgments" and making a fuss about acknowledgments to deities, going as far as forcing people to reprint their thesis, or rip out the acknowledgment altogether.
    – JanJ
    Feb 10, 2015 at 11:42

Adding to jakebeal (and keshlam's comment about offensive text), I think the only negative consequence is when you leave specific people out, e.g., you thank one supervisor but not the other. And that includes people who did support you during your thesis but were not part of the formal structures, e.g., your partner, or your parents, etc. Not to argue with comics, but PhDComics put it best: "Acknowledgements" and "To you I dedicate this thesis".

To avoid forgetting someone, I found it useful to add a general thank you paragraph after the personalized acknowledgements for all those I did not mention explicitly (sums up other colleagues, extended family, etc.).

  • 2
    This is a very good answer. Actually, I think there is nothing wrong arguing with comics. Thank you.
    – padawan
    Feb 10, 2015 at 23:05

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