First, I would like to thank my friends at Brunel who have taken the greater part of this PhD journey with me, as part of the Cleaner Electronics Research Group and within Brunel Design more generally. In particular, thank you, Dr Alex Plant, Dr Nicola Combe, Fergus Bisset and Richard Young. While we were all doing our own thing, having your support and friendship has meant a great deal during both the good times and those when things haven’t gone so well. This kind of research can be a very lonely experience, and to know, and be able to talk to, others who are going through similar struggles is incredibly important.
Thank you to my supervisors: Professor David Harrison at Brunel, who took a chance on me back in 2007, enabled this whole PhD, and has been a constant source of support and sensible advice, and Professor Neville Stanton (now at Southampton), who has offered his comprehensive knowledge and strategic insights throughout, and to the Ormsby Trust and Thomas Gerald Gray Charitable Trust for their support.
Other colleagues at Brunel, past and present, both staff and students, whose help I have appreciated over the course of this PhD include:
Alexander Ambridge, Dr Marco Ajovalasit, Dr Sharon Baurley, Dr Stewart Birrell, Dr Jane Coughlan, Annemarie Dah, Loic De Buck, Dr Hua Dong, Dr Sam Duby, the late Lyn Edgecock, Chris Ellis, Professor Graeme Evans, Stephen Green, Linda Hartley, Dr Gareth Hay, Tim Holley, Jane Jang, Dr Dan Jenkins, Ron Jackson, Dr Ljubica Lazarevic, Amy Liu, Chris McGinley, Farnaz Nickpour, Dr Alexandre Pelegrini, Rob Phillips, Nick Sardar, Dr Darren Southee, Paul Turnock, Nikii Wang, Dr Yanmeng Xu, Dr Mark Young
I must thank my colleagues at WMG, University of Warwick from 2011-12—Dr Rebecca Cain, Professor Paul Jennings and Dr Seb Giudice—for their support and for showing me that the approach I have taken in this PhD is valued in a different academic context. Most recently, in 2013, I would like to thank my new colleagues at the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design, and SustainRCA, at the Royal College of Art, for opening up an infectiously optimistic worldview on the potential of people-centred design for sustainability and quality of life. Thank you to Catherine Greene, Flora Bowden, Rama Gheerawo, Jo-Anne Bichard, Clare Brass and Professor Jeremy Myerson.
The most enjoyable part of this PhD has been meeting a wonderful group of fellow researchers from all over the world, working on similar, intersecting or tangentially related subjects around persuasive technology, behaviour, interaction, design for social benefit and sustainability. Nominally they are situated in lots of different disciplines—with perhaps surprisingly few in `design’—but they share a commonality in considering understanding people to be an important part of understanding technological systems. The help and support they have given ranges from brief discussions to deep, sometimes metaphysical conversations, to a strengthening of a feeling of camaraderie, even when half-way across the world. Everyone has been useful, in one way or another, in getting this PhD done. I would, therefore, like to thank:
Dr Conny Bakker, Dr Magnus Bang, Professor Russell Beale, Lykke Bertel, Professor Robert Biddle, Dr Lennart Bjorneborn, Professor Casper Boks, Dr Kristina Borjesson, Loove Broms, Elizabeth Buie, Dr Stuart Candy, Kara Chanasyk, Jessica Charlesworth, Anne-Kathrine Christensen, Dr Benjamin Cowan, Dr Salmaan Craig, Dr Brian Cugelman, Johannes Zachrisson Daae, Dr Janet Davis, Dr Annelise De Jong, Christel De Maeyer, Sebastian Deterding, Jens Wilhelm Dinesen, Dr Steven Dorrestijn, Filip Drozd, Dr Dean Eckles, Dr Edward Elias, Dr Gloria Elizondo, Dr BJ Fogg, Dr Alain Forget, Dr Jon Froehlich, Gonzalo Garcia-Perate, Louise Norgaard Glud, Sandra Burri Gram-Hansen, Lasse Burri Gram-Hansen, Dr Elke Greifeneder, Victoria Haines, Dr Qin Han, Arjan Haring, Alex Heeney, Jason Hreha, Sadhna Jain, Kirsikka Kaipainen, Elin Olsen Kallevik, Dr Maurits Kaptein, Lucy Kimbell, Lenneke Kuijer, Ksenija Kuzmina, Dr Mark Lacy, Dr Tuomas Lehto, Dr Debra Lilley, Dr Erica Lofstrom, Professor Elizabeth Losh, Kendra Markle, Richard Mawle, Dr Ramia Maze, Dr Christian McLening, Dave Miller, Jordy Mont-Reynaud, Maria Alejandra Moreno, Dr Ruth Mugge, Prof. Sendhil Mullainathan, Dr Sean Munson, Kiersten Nash, Dr Hien Nguyen, Sylvia Nicholles, Prof. Harri Oinas-Kukkonen, Luis Oliveira, Dr Rosie Onions, Ida Nilstad Pettersen, Dr Laura Rafferty, Dr Teppo Raisanen, Dr Rathna Ramanathan, Valentina Rao, Julie Ravn, Dr Wolfgang Reitberger, Sara Renstrom, Mia Ridge, Professor Henrik Scharfe, Dr Melissa Sedmak, Dr Katarina Segerstahl, Anneli Selvefors, Don Steiny, Goril Storroe, Helena Strömberg, Dr Lauren Tan, Professor Harold Thimbleby, Dr Ann Thorpe, Dr Cameron Tonkinwise, Dr Kristian Torning, Nynke Tromp, Dr Marcella Ucci, Fred Van Amstel, Roseliek Van de Velden, Tjebbe Van Eemeren, Professor Peter-Paul Verbeek, Frank Verberne, Tricia Wang, Tristan Weevers, Dr Renee Wever, Garrath Wilson, Jorge Zapico
What set me on this PhD journey in the first place was the confidence that this was an interesting and worthwhile subject, and that I was capable of tackling it. That confidence came, to a large extent, from correspondence with a whole range of people, a few of whom I have still never met in person, from all over the world: people who had read and commented on my blog, or emailed me examples and pictures and references to look up, points of view and contacts who might be useful, and people who urged me to investigate these issues further. Since the toolkit itself in its various forms was made public, another whole wave of people has helped (even if they don’t realise how much) by taking part in workshops, giving me feedback, inviting me to come and talk and run events, suggesting improvements, and so on. Again, that enthusiasm—quite basically, showing that someone `out there’ is interested in what I’m doing—has been immensely valuable and has kept me going during some times when I was close to packing it all in (so, as well as the people named here, I also want to thank the many thousands of anonymous readers who have, in their own way, contributed). Thanks to:
Stephen Anderson, Kate Andrews, Lauren Argenta, Alison Austin, Sophie Barrett, Tim Barrow-Williams, Steve Baty, David Bausola, Martin Belam, Dr Simon Blyth, Andreas Bovens, Cennydd Bowles, James Box, Dr Harry Brignull, Alex Brown, George Buckenham, Andy Budd, Kate Bulpitt, Meagan Call, Emily Campbell, Samidh Chakrabarti, Dr Jennifer Cham, Adi Chambers, James Christie, David Churcher, Giles Colborne, Dr Mary Rose Cook, Dr Fionnuala Costello, Martin Couzins, Ian Crawford, Harriet Creed, Kimberley Crofts, Vicky Cullen, Lauren Currie, Raphael D’Amico, Dawn Danby, Vincenzo Di Maria, Cory Doctorow, Duncan Drennan, Sarah Drummond, Robert Fabricant, Dr Frank Field, Eliot Fineberg, Crosbie Fitch, Seth Godin, David Gray, Adam Greenfield, Mags Halliday, Michael Hallsworth, Rory Hamilton, Tim Harford, Warren Hatter, Edward Horsford, Lydia Howland, Paul Irish, Dr Laura James, Dr Patrick Jordan, Amy Kapell, Aviv Katz, Elizabeth Kessick, Dr Gary Klein, Michael Kohn, Johanna Kollmann, Adrian Leaman, Katy Lindemann, Nick Marsh, Robert Maslin, Adam Menter, Jason Mesut, Felix Mitchell, Jaimes Nel, Luke Nicholson, Mayo Nissen, Dr Bill Nuttall, Oliver Payne, Martyn Perks, Steve Portigal, George Preston, Tom Randall, Ben Reason, Eric Reiss, Chris Risdon, Frankie Roberto, Ayush Saran, Fee Schmidt-Soltau, Joey Scully, Richard Sedley, Adrian Short, Dr Paul Shrubsole, Timothy J Silverman, Clare Sinclair, Matthew Solle, Paula Sparling, Zoe Stanton, Francis Storr, Bruno Taylor, Agnes Tirat, Elle Tweedy, Alice Tyler, Vincent van der Lubbe, Mark Vanderbeeken, Megha Wadhawan, Marney Walker, Laura Walker-Hudson, Adrian Westaway, Dr Duncan Wilson, Jamie Young
I am lucky to have had a wonderful group of friends who have helped me through the last few years, in particular Julian Wood and Michael O’Donnell. I would also like to thank my family—my parents, Barry and Carol and my brother, Tom, for all their support and advice and belief that I was capable of taking on the PhD. And most of all, I want to thank Harriet, who has been endlessly patient, kind, loving and brilliant.
Source: Lockton, D (2013) Design with Intent: A design pattern toolkit for environmental & social behaviour change, PhD in Design, Brunel University
By Susan Carter
Acknowledgements pages show the essence of the thesis author and their experience. If you look through a dozen or so at a time, you will hear the screams, the manic laughter, catching the sombre tragedy and the sense of awe and agony that underpins the doctoral life span.
Acknowledgements are non-consequential in that a student is not evaluated on them, unlike the rest of the prose they have laboured over. Some acknowledgement pages give away the secret of their authors’ difficulty with formal prose, and it doesn’t matter—by the time anyone reads them, the author has been found acceptable.
But acknowledgements do matter because in amongst the celebration the right people need to be thanked in the right sort of way.
The acknowledgement pages I have looked at vary considerably. Most thank funders, supervisors, close colleagues and family. Possibly supportive friends. This means it is effectively a snub if someone important is not thanked.
Typically the structure moves from thanking the most formal support to the least formal thanks as detailed above–funders, supervisors, other academics, colleagues, and finally family. This makes sense according to the logic of incremental progression because the informal thanks to family are often the most heartfelt. Close family members are often the people who gave the most (although some supervisors are likely to feel this is not true).
It is important that a student acknowledges the formal carefully, though: any person or institution that has contributed funding to the project, other researchers who have been involved in the research, institutions that have aided the research in some way. They should also acknowledge proofreaders and editors—that is a requirement at the University of Auckland where I work, and a good one in terms of honesty in authorship. Such formal thanks are usually in the first paragraph or two.
Interestingly, our Guide to Theses and Dissertations states that you should “Only acknowledge people or institutions that have contributed to the content of your thesis” (14).
Yet no one follows this advice. I have seen people thank their dog for sitting at their feet for hundreds of hours, the cat for its companionable choice of the thesis draft as a place to settle down for a nap, and God for creating a magnificent universe available to be studied.
It is possible to thank people for more specific regional rather than global help throughout the thesis too. I like doing this, because it cheers me up to remember the kind, wise colleagues who have helped me along with my thinking. If footnotes are used, the work can be done there, for example, with footnotes that state “I am indebted to xxx for several discussions that helped me to focus this section”. Without footnotes, more formal provision of a ‘personal conversation’ reference will do the same work.
Students may choose to namedrop in these internal thanks too: if a big name in the field gave feedback after a conference paper or in conversation, acknowledgements strengthen the student’s academic authority and insider status.
Acknowledgements vary in length, and the effect of a very long acknowledgement—I have seen a nine-pager—is to dilute the thanks. I have also seen one that simply lists five names, which was blunt, but powerful.
So it is good to start a draft within six months of submission, and revise it for the full satisfaction of a job well done on graduation, with all dues paid. The usual structuring principles apply: those who gave most should be given the most thanks. Supervisors will know the sad truth if the cat gets more lines than they do.
Thanks are best when concrete. I really like thanks to supervisors that carry a sense of who they were in the drama, like “My supervisor, who kept a sense of humour when I had lost mine”; “my supervisor, whose maddening attention to detail drove me to finally learn to punctuate prose”; or “my supervisor, whose selfless time and care were sometimes all that kept me going.” A precisely-worded acknowledgement like a perfectly chosen gift. It fits. It matches.
Some supervisors tend not to give advice on acknowledgments, because they expecting to be thanked, so it feels preemptive. Do others feel, though, that the end result is happier all round if supervisors offer to critically read the acknowledgements too? Or would it be more appropriately a place where academic advisors could give objective advice?