I am currently finishing writing my MSc thesis. I am considering separating the acknowledgments section in two:

  1. Personal acknowledgments (sorted as advisor(s)/family/SO/friends)
  2. Acknowledging financial support

Point 2 is straight forward. My issue is with point 1.

What kind of freedom do I have here? My thesis is in English (not my nor the university's native language) so, am I allowed to, for example, write some paragraphs on my native language when I am acknowledging non-native English speakers?

Slightly different topic but do I have the freedom to write "inside references" that likely only the person who I am writing to will understand, when addressing friends or SO?

Essentially, what will be frowned upon by the referees in the acknowledgments section?

  • 1
    The only way to know is to ask someone who is familiar with your university's policies. – fkraiem Jul 20 '16 at 17:40

There are a couple directions to look to see how your school handles this sort of thing:

  1. Your supervisor probably has an idea of what's been done in the past.
  2. Theses in your school or department's library - school's keep past theses that have been accepted on record - have a look at what people in your school, department, and program have done in the past.

In general - a quick survey of what my colleagues have used in the acknowledgements section of their master's theses has determined:

  1. Inside jokes are ok.
  2. Multilingual messages are ok (we are in Canada though, so French and English is pretty common)
  3. None of us believe the any of the referees bothered to read the personal acknowledgements.
  • 5
    Thesis acknowledgement sections are — in my experience — one of the few places in academic writing where pretty much anything goes (within reason — nothing obviously offensive, etc). – PLL Jul 20 '16 at 19:04

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