Acknowledgements and Dedication Pages: A Guide for Capstone Writers -->

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Acknowledgements and Dedication Pages: A Guide for Capstone Writers

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My post today applies specifically to capstone writers – more specifically, to capstone writers who are finishing their dissertations and doctoral studies. Today, I address the Dedication and Acknowledgements pages of the capstone document.

Acknowledgements and Dedication Pages: A Guide for Capstone Writers

The Dedications and Acknowledgements pages are optional pages, which appear in the preliminary section of the capstone document before the text. They are inserted after the title page and before the Table of Contents. They provide a space for capstone writers to personally thank family members, friends, committee members, mentors, and others who have contributed, in some way, to a student’s research and academic development.

Today, I want to offer my editor’s perspective on how students might approach composing these pages should they wish to include them in their studies. As someone who edits capstone studies on a daily basis for form and style, I hope I can offer helpful insight about how to ensure that these pages are correctly formatted and convey appropriate scholarly voice.

To ensure that these pages are correctly formatted, you will want to use the template for your program. It is very important that you work from the most up-to-date template. These can be accessed by clicking on the Programs page of the Doctoral Capstone Form and Style website. Here, you can also watch a quick Template Demonstration Video for a quick overview of how to work with your program template.

The templates include ready-made pages for the Dedication and Acknowledgements, which are correctly formatted per template formatting specifications. You can either copy your text to these pages or compose your text in the space provided. You will notice that the Dedication and Acknowledgements headings are formatted as APA Level 0 (i.e., they are centered, in upper and lowercase, and in regular not bold typeface).

Also, the text is formatted as a paragraph (i.e., the first line of each paragraph is indented five spaces) and should look the same as those in the rest of your document. Lines should be double-spaced, and the font and font size should be consistent with what is used within your document. (APA recommends use of 12 point type in Times New Roman typeface.) These pages are not paginated.

Regarding content, when reviewing these pages, I do line edit them for grammar and APA style. I recognize, however, that these pages are intended to provide a personal space for students to convey very individual information. There are no program guidelines, for instance, for this content.

I do encourage students to be precise, concise, professional, and respectful in writing these pages. While the content is more personal and intimate than that in the text, it should still be in accord with APA values (namely, scholarly voice and economy of expression), in my opinion. I think it is as important to avoid biased language in the Acknowledgements page as it is in the text. Similarly, I encourage students to be as precise as possible and avoid unnecessary words just as they do in the text.

Composing the Dedication and Acknowledgements in this way will help ensure that the overall document has consistency in terms of content and appearance. It will also help to reinforce a polished, professional image for its author. An Acknowledgements section that is rambling or unfocused or which includes what might be seen as personal attacks will likely detract from the desired professional and scholarly image that most students want to cultivate. Remember that these pages will be accessible to anyone who downloads your study, perhaps years from now.

When composing these pages, take care not to compromise the confidentiality of your study site and research participants or violate a signed confidentiality agreement. Walden strongly recommends that students not name their study sites, even if they have written permission to do so, in their capstone studies. This recommendation is rooted in a concern for protecting participants’ privacy. To avoid this issue, consider using a general descriptor if you wish to acknowledge your participants and its personnel – for example, “I wish to thank my interviewees and staff members at my research setting for their participation and assistance.” See the Doctoral Capstone Form and Style website for more information on confidentiality in the capstone document.

Hopefully, my thoughts are helpful to students as they write or revise these pages of their studies. Keep up the good work!

Tara Kachgal author image

Tara Kachgal is a dissertation editor in the Walden University Writing Center. She has a Ph.D. in mass communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and teaches for the School of Government's online MPA@UNC program. She resides in Chapel Hill and, in her spare time, serves as a mentor for her local running store's training program.

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