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My question is: I would like to thank the committee members of my PhD dissertation explicitly thanking them for their time and effort and writing down their names Prof. Name1, Prof. Name2, etc...

This is of course before the formal defence after they found the dissertation worthy of being defended.

I am a bit concerned about whether it is correct, or impolite or not, or protocol wrong... if you know what I mean.

Any advice, opinion, suggestion that could help me?

P.S. The thesis is about mathematics, if it may help.

  • explicitly thanking them for their time and effort How? In the Ackonwledgement section of your dissertation or an e-mail or other means? Please clarify. – scaaahu Aug 4 '15 at 8:14
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    Yes. In the acknowledgements section of the thesis, explicitly written. – Dave Aug 4 '15 at 8:18
  • "bureaucratically correct"? – Cape Code Aug 4 '15 at 10:56
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    Yes. Some may argue that thanking opponents before the defence creates a conflict of objectivity. If a rule of objectivity or independence of the committee may be considered to be broken then it may be impossible to bureaucratically approve the thesis... In short, I mean if it may be seen as a problem... – Dave Aug 4 '15 at 11:10
  • I haven't defended my thesis yet (so take it for what it is worth), but I'm not sure that I would consider my committee to be "my opponents." It seems appropriate to thank them for their time and efforts in helping you develop your thesis. – cc7768 Aug 4 '15 at 14:26
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In the American style, at least, your acknowledgements are yours to do with what you like. Other answers on this site include thanking the makers of Dr. Pepper or dieties and pets. Thus, if you feel thankful to the members of your committee, you should feel free to thank them in your acknowledgements section.

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My policy - in my thesis as well as on papers - is to not include the acknowledgments when I send the draft to anyone. As others have mentioned the thesis acknowledgments are yours alone and should not have any bearing (or relationship) to the actual content of the thesis. After all the comments and corrections were received and dealt with, I added the acknowledgments to the document - my committee saw them in the final copy I gave them on the day of my defense.

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!Please note: This answer may only reflect the German cultural intellectual style. But maybe the points (or some of them) are applicable in other cultures too. Germans often reduce to factual questions, leaving emotional connections unannotated. (Compare with Galtungs teutonic style)


The general suggestion I read and heard a lot about acknowledgements and persons, that should be named there (or avoided to be named) is:

  • name people contributing content, ideas, algorithms etc. to your thesis. This is a must (or someone could blame you of plagiarism).
  • name people or institutions that fund(ed) your research

  • to be polite you can thank other people supporting you mentally or spiritually etc. anonymously

  • thanking persons for general help without specific connection to the thesis' content is sometimes judged to be kitsch or smarmily. don't name them.


  • in case of the committee:
    • did they (in particular) contribute? (if yes: name them)
    • did they (in particular) fund your research? (if yes: name them)
    • being part of the commitee can be a paid job (why thanking one doing his/her job?)
    • being part can be personal engagement of a person (nice thing, but not connected to you, giving a reason to thank for it)

Don't thank your Mom for having you born...You receive a degree no Oscar.

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In my acknowledgement section, I wrote: "Further I would like to acknowledge the jury members of this thesis. You provided very useful hints for improving this thesis manuscript, which I have gladly embraced"

So I did thank them for the contribution they did deliver, but did not mention their individual names (which, of course, can be found elsewhere in my thesis).

Of course, everybody is free to do it differently.

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