In the acknowledge of a thesis, we thank all the people who helped our research. E.g.

"First of all I thank xxx, for xxx throughout my Ph.D. period."

For my master thesis's acknowledge, I tried very hard to rephrase the sentences to avoid repeating others' similar ones.

This time, I need to write my PhD thesis's acknowledge. I have download around 10 copies of other's acknowledges. I find it really difficult to work out a sentence structure that is different from all of them.

I mean the peoples we thank are different, but the reasons or the phrases representing how we should thank them are similar among all thesis.

I just wonder if I can stop struggling with rephrasing the sentence structure, and copy & mix the sentences from my and others' acknowledges and just replace the people's names?

Is this an acceptable behaviors? Is this plagiarism or self-plagiarism?

I just think there are so many theses with acknowledges. You probably would never be able to work out an unique sentence structure. You will be similar to others anyway. So why not just copy, mix and change names?

  • 5
    You are probably overthinking this
    – Ant
    Mar 12, 2015 at 20:13
  • 1
    You're writing a thesis for a postgraduate degree. That means you're pretty smart. Use your brain instead of trying to find rules to govern every situation. Mar 12, 2015 at 20:39
  • You are overthinking this, indeed. However, the answer is that there is absolutely no standard for the acknowledgment. Copy someone else's if that makes you comfortable. Or just write whatever you feel is appropriate. I posted mine in response to a past question about this, and if you look that up you'll see that I included both serious and silly credits. You aren't going to be graded on this paragraph. If you must worry, find something else to worry about.
    – keshlam
    Mar 13, 2015 at 5:05
  • Doesn't this prior question mostly cover the same issue? academia.stackexchange.com/questions/24156/… As the answers there suggest: it seems a little nutty to try to actively compare one acknowledgments section against another to enforce originality. As long as you didn't write your acknowledgments section by lifting whole paragraphs verbatim from someone else's thesis, I think it's not worth worrying about this at all. (And, if it needs to be said: don't write your acknowledgements section in that way.) Mar 13, 2015 at 8:57

2 Answers 2


First, throw away everyone else's acknowledgements sections. Ignore them.

Second, think of all the people to whom you feel grateful, and write down your thanks in whatever way feels natural to you.

It really is that easy. There's only so many ways to say something, so if it sounds similar to someone else's, so what? As long as they are your own heartfelt words, no one will notice or care.

  • 1
    "in whatever way feels natural to you" And what if you're not a native speaker of the language you write the acknowledgements in?
    – JiK
    Mar 12, 2015 at 20:01
  • 2
    @JIK: "in whatever way feels natural to you". I doubt anyone will nitpick what precise words you used to thank them, whether they are grammatically correct, and whether they conform to standard idiomatic usage. Mar 13, 2015 at 9:04
  • 2
    @JiK: Anyone who makes it through the writing of the rest of the thesis can make it through the acknowledgments. If they got help with language issues / translation / writing on the rest of the thesis, certainly they could still get it here. Or if they wrote it on their own but with effort, then probably something short and simple feels most natural to them. Writing "I sincerely thank my parents, People A through G, and my thesis advisor" would be an acceptable acknowledgments section, and honestly, those who treat it as an exercise in being clever or funny risk making a worse impression. Mar 13, 2015 at 9:06

The acknowledgements aren't really something you claim credit for. I think on the whole people aren't going to worry about copied acknowledgement sentences, unless you copy something very unique (eg. someone quoting a film/book/their grandfather). I'd very much doubt anyone would care if you copied your own text from your master's thesis (I guess they might interpret it as insincere, but if they know you find the language hard they could probably see past that). You could try mix-and-match, with sentences but also with clauses.

Or alternatively you could write in your own language.

  • Having a bilingual acknowledgments section is actually a pretty good idea. You can't fault someone for thanking in more than one language: in fact, it seems quite gracious to do so. Mar 13, 2015 at 9:10
  • I know of theses where the author has thanked friends and family from their home country in their native language, and everyone else in English. It works well!
    – Moriarty
    Mar 13, 2015 at 9:16

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