The examiners of a friend's PhD thesis required revisions which they needed to approve before they would accept the thesis. The requirements were fairly demanding but overall reasonable and helpfully explained, and my friend wishes to acknowledge the examiners' contribution in the final submission, in anticipation of their approval.

However, it seems to me that examiners are not supposed to be friends; and any implication that they are seems to suggest that the examination process was too cosy, or that the examiners were perhaps rather a push-over or even somewhat corrupt. Are such concerns well founded, or am I worrying unduly?

  • I'm assuming that 'examiners' is analogous to 'committee members'? In the dissertations that I've seen, all have included a thank you to the committee members, and most of these are detailed, personal thank yous.
    – haff
    Nov 27, 2016 at 16:49
  • One comment: in my experience with theses, the final copy that the committee approves is not literally the final copy the student submits: she is allowed / sometimes encouraged to make further routine or cosmetic changes. If you want to avoid the appearance of impropriety, you could probably arrange to turn in the acknowledgments after committee approval: if technically possible, this is really reasonable because the acknowledgments are certainly not a part of the thesis that the committee will scrutinize. Nov 27, 2016 at 18:03

4 Answers 4


Peer-reviewers of academic research papers are not supposed to be authors' friends, and on many occasions are direct opposite. However, it is not uncommon to thank them in the final version of the paper, because their contribution often helps to improve the paper considerably.

In the same way, I think that it is OK to thank the examiners for their suggestions, which helped you to improve the presentation of your thesis.


The acknowledgment section of your thesis is to give thanks to anyone or anything that you want to give thanks to. This should include anyone who provided substantial intellectual support towards the contents of the thesis (your advisor and any other collabators who helped with the content). After that, you are free to thank (or not thank) whomeverelse you want. Thesis examiners are appropriate if you are grateful for anything they did. We've even had questions on academic stack exchange about thanking god or your pet. All of which is fine. Some people may find who you include strange. However, ultimately its silly for anyone to pass judgment on people for giving thanks, since whom you feel grateful for supporting you while you completed a thesis (a huge accomplishment) is truly personal.


An acknowledgment is a statement of thanks for a contribution, not a declaration of friendship. Of course it's appropriate to acknowledge one's examiners.

  • For a dissertation, that contribution need not be related to the content of the thesis. Emotional or professional support unrelated to the thesis's content by friends and family members is appropriate to acknowledge in a thesis. A thesis is more like a book than a paper and the acknowledgements can reflect this. Nov 27, 2016 at 13:15

The acknowledgement is for the people that helps you to provide such a work like this.

I think the examiner is only the person give you some feedback, but he was not during your Ph.D process.

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