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?
Acknowledgment and Dedications¶
First and foremost, I would like to thank my wife Angela for standing beside me throughout my career and writing this book. She has been my inspiration and motivation for continuing to improve my knowledge and move my career forward. She is my rock, and I dedicate this book to her. I also thank my wonderful children: Katie, Jake, Matt, and our new addition Zachary, for always making me smile and for understanding on those weekend mornings when I was writing this book instead of playing games. I hope that one day they can read this book and understand why I spent so much time in front of my computer. I’d like to thank my parents and grandparents for allowing me to follow my ambitions throughout my childhood. My family, including my in-laws, have always supported me throughout my career and authoring this book and I really appreciate it. I look forward to discussing this book with my family at future gatherings as I’m sure they will all read it soon. My co-workers, especially Roger Slisz, Necota Smith, and Matt Arena, who showed me the ropes in IT. Without that knowledge I wouldn’t have ventured into learning about Oracle and PL/SQL, which ultimately led to this! I’d like to especially thank Roger Slisz and Kent Collins for trusting me to guide and develop the applications for our department, and for allowing me the freedom to manage my projects and provide the necessary time and resource toward our applications and databases. I’d really like to thank Jim Baker for providing me with the opportunity to become the lead author for this book. I appreciate that he believed in me to provide the leadership and knowledge to make this book a reality. Jim Baker is a great person and a scholar; without him, this book may not have been written. Jim and I collaborated to find the other great authors that helped us write this book. In the end, I believe that the team of authors that was chosen provides the perfect blend of knowledge and skills that went into authoring this book. I thank each of the authors for devoting their time and effort towards this book; I think that it will be a great asset to the community! Thanks for everything, I look forward to writing the second edition soon! I owe a huge thanks to Duncan Parkes of Apress for providing excellent support and advice. I also wish to thank all of our technical reviewers and our Apress project coordinator, Mary Tobin. All of their efforts helped to make this book complete and we couldn’t have done it without you. Last, but definitely not least, I’d like to thank the Jython developers and the community as a whole. The developers work hard to provide us with this great technology allowing us to write Python on the JVM. Frank Wierzbicki has done an excellent job in leading the core of Jython developers to produce 2.5.1, and I know that he’ll continue to do a great job leading into the future. Thanks to the community for using Jython and providing great ideas and support via the mailing lists; without this help I could not provide the newsletter and podcast.
This book is dedicated to my kids, Zack and Zoe, who are just about the best children a dad could hope for: happy, loving, and fun to be with. Fundamentally what I love to do is create, so it’s wonderful watching you grow!
Three years ago we had this audacious idea in reviving Jython. We would jump to supporting the 2.5 version of the Python language. And we would focus on make it a suitable platform for running the increasingly large apps that are being developed. This meant a renewed focus on compatibility for Jython. Fortunately we could leverage the new reality that developers of Python applications, frameworks, and libraries increasingly have a committment to strong testing. Our problem was tractable because we could use this testing to converge on a robust implementation.
This book documents that we in fact achieved this goal, while still preserving the ability for you to interactively explore and script the Java platform. In other words, Jython has grown up, but it hasn’t forgotten what made it both useful and fun in the first place.
To my good friend Frank Wierzbicki, we made it happen; Charlie Nutter, for his committment to collaboration; Bruce Eckel and Albert Wenger, who both convinced me that working on Jython was important; Leslie Hawthorn of the Google Open Source Programs Office; Dorene Beaver; John Rose, Brian Goetz, and Ted Leung at Sun, for their support of alternative languages on the JVM; Glyph Lefkowitz, Jacob Kaplan-Moss, Chris Perkins, and Mark Ramm, for their support of a robust Python ecosystem; my fellow Jython developers, Alan Kennedy, Charlie Groves, Josh Juneau, Nicholas Riley, Oti Humbel, and Phil Jenvey, not to mention many other contributors. And especially to my Google Summer of Code students, now also Jython committers, Leo Soto and Tobias Ivarsson: it’s been wonderful watching you grow as both developers and individuals.
Thanks to Liz and Rosie for putting up with far too many side projects this year. Special thanks to everyone in the Jython and Python developer community for making life as a programmer much less painful than it could be.
First, thanks to my family for having the patience with me for having taking yet another challenge which decreases the amount of time I can spend with them. Specially Eliana, my mother, who has taken a big part of that sacrifice, and also Nicolás, my brother, who gives encouragement in his particular way. They and Leocadio, my father, who rests in peace, forged my personality and share credit on every goal I achieve.
Thanks to all my friends for sharing my happiness when starting this project and following with encouragement when it seemed too difficult to be completed. I would have probably give up without their support and example on what to do when you really want something.
Speaking of encouragement, I must mention that Jim Baker is responsible for having me on the team who wrote this book: first by mentoring me on Jython and later by insisting that I should share part of what I have learned on this book. He is a great person and I can only be grateful to have met him.
Thanks to Josh Juneau, our lead author. He coordinated our numerous team and made sure we all were on the right track. He did that while also working on a lot of chapters and also handling the paperwork. I have no idea how he managed to do it. All I know is that he rocks.
Thanks to Duncan Parkes, our editor, and all the technical reviewers who worked on this book. Not only by catching mistakes but also by suggesting those additions that can seem obvious in hindsight but that would never occurred to you.
On the first half of the Django chapter I received a lot of help from Jacob Fenwick who discovered some problems on specific platforms and offered valuable suggestions to overcome them. Thanks to him many readers won’t experience the frustration caused when the code shown on the book doesn’t work on their environment. By the way, while working on Django integration with Jython I’ve met a lot of nice people on the Django community. Special thanks to Jacob Kaplan-Moss for his outstanding support when I was working on that area.
And thanks to the Jython community! Starting with our leader, Frank Wierzbicki, who has played a crucial role to move Jython forward in the last years. The core Jython developers are also really awesome people and I’m immensely happy to work with them on the project. And every person of the Jython community I’ve talked to has been nice and even when criticizing they know how to be constructive. I’m grateful to work with this community and hope their members will find this book useful!
First and foremost, I want to thank my wife, Jill Fitzgibbons, for all of the support she has given through all of these years of Jython work. Most of that work occurred on weekends, nights, while on vacation, and other times inconvenient to my family. My daughter, Lily, who is five at the time of writing, has also needed to show patience when her dad was working on Jython and on this book. I want to thank my parents, who brought a Commodore 64 into the house when I was still impressionable enough to get sucked into a life of programming. I also want to thank all of the contributors and users of Jython. They make my work on Jython and this book worth doing.
Throughout the process of writing this book, many individuals from the community have taken time out to help us out. We’d like to give a special thanks to the Python and Jython community as a whole for actively participating in the feedback and contributions for this book via the mailing lists.
We also thank the Python and Jython developers for producing this great programming language. So much hard work has gone into the Python language that it has become one of the most solid and widely used object oriented programming languages available today. The Jython developers have done a tremendous job bringing the Jython of today up-to-speed with current versions of the Python language. The Jython community seems to be working harder than ever before at making it a viable option for programming modern Python and Java applications alike. Special thanks to those developers who have helped out with this book and still kept Jython advancing.
The authors of The Definitive Guide to Jython would like to offer an extra special thanks to the rest of the individuals in this section. Without your insight or contributions portions of this book may not have been possible.
James Gardner - Thanks to James Gardner for his help in providing us with a working toolset and knowledge to convert from restructured text format to MS Word for the Apress editing process. The open source book was written completely in restructured text, and converted to .doc format for the Apress drafts and editing procedures. James offered great insight on how he used this process with The Pylons Book, and he also provided us with a conversion utility that was used for his book.