Thesis Submission

The Commons only publishes thesis materials about work conducted under the auspices of Northern Michigan University. Follow the instructions below to submit your thesis. Submit only the final thesis approved by your thesis committee. You will receive an email confirming that you have successfully submitted your thesis. You will receive another email when your thesis is accepted or if you are required to make revisions before final approval. The first thesis submission must be in the Commons before the thesis deadline. Subsequent revisions can be submitted after the deadline without impacting your graduation status.

Before submitting, please read all relevant policies and submission guidelines. The submission process consists of the following steps:

1. Read and accept the Submission Agreement.

2. Provide information about yourself and your thesis.

3. Upload your electronic thesis file and associated files, if any.


Before you begin, please be sure you have the following items:  

  • The thesis title  
  • Names and e-mail addresses for your readers/advisors.  
  • A list of keywords separated by commas (10 maximum)*  
  • The abstract (up to 250 words)*  
  • The electronic format of your supplemental file(s), or hyperlink to your file(s)

*NOTE-Your keywords and abstract may be pasted into the submission fields.

An official (original signed copy or verified e-signature) copy of your thesis signature page must be received by the College of Graduate Studies by the thesis deadline.



Before submitting a paper to the repository, authors should be sure that all necessary permissions (see “Copyright and Permissions” in the Guide to the Preparation of Theses) have been cleared. Authors retain the copyright to their own paper and grant The Commons at Northern Michigan University the non-exclusive right to publish this material, meaning that the author may also publish it elsewhere. Your thesis will also be made available in the ProQuest Dissertation & Theses Global Database (PQDT Global), which reaches 3,000 universities with over 200 million searches annually, and supports discovery through all major subject and discipline indexes (SciFinder, MLA, MathSciNet, PsycINFO, ERIC, etc). ProQuest provides these services at no charge, and is a nonexclusive distribution of your master’s or Education Specialist thesis.


  1. Defend thesis
  2. Thesis Committee signs approval form
  3. Make any revisions required by the Committee discussed at the defense
  4. Resubmit your thesis to the Chair and/or Committee
  5. Once your thesis Chair approves, upload your thesis to the Commons
  6. Graduate Studies will send the Commons version to your Chair to confirm that it is the correct version that they approves
  7. Once the Chair approves, Grad Studies will review the thesis for formatting and compliance regulations
  8. If you need to make changes in these areas, you will get an email requesting minor revisions
  9. Make the revisions and re-upload to the Commons
  10. If the changes meet guidelines, the thesis is sent to the Dean of Graduate Studies and Research for approval. When she approves it, the thesis is posted and you get to breathe a high sigh of relief.

What is an embargo or on-campus restriction?

An embargo restricts a thesis from being downloaded in The Commons until after 5 years. The citation and abstract will be available from the start, but the ability to download the thesis is disabled until the embargo period has ended. An embargoed thesis will only appear in ProQuest after the embargo period ends.

An on-campus restriction limits access to a thesis in The Commons to users on the NMU campus network, either via Wi-Fi or a direct Ethernet connection. Users accessing the internet through an LTE router are unable to download a campus restricted thesis.  As with embargoes, citation and abstract information is visible to everyone. No information is submitted to ProQuest for an on-campus restricted thesis.


As a tax funded, public university Northern Michigan University (NMU) is committed to distributing scholarship produced under the auspices of the Office of Graduate Education and Research through an open access model. Open access scholarship allows new ideas to be dispersed more rapidly and widely, serving as an impetus for knowledge. As a result, NMU requires theses and dissertations created by NMU graduate students be made publicly available through our institution’s repository, The Commons (, and in ProQuest Dissertation & Theses Global Database.  Although authors retain copyright to their own thesis or dissertation, they grant The Commons and ProQuest non-exclusive rights to publish this material. Non-exclusive rights mean authors are also able to publish their theses or dissertation in whole or in part.

When to request an embargo or an on-campus restriction?

There may be times when a delay in publication or limiting open access for a thesis is required. Some reasons for requesting embargoes or restrictions:

  • Making information public included in a pending patent application
  • Having the need to protect sensitive data or individuals’ privacy rights
  • Wanting to publish your work with publisher who considers open access publications equivalent to prior publication. 

Request an Embargo 

Before requesting an on-campus restriction or embargo, consult your thesis advisor to see if that is advisable. Requests for either are made when you submit your thesis via The Commons, and will require a written justification. The Dean of Graduate Studies and Research has the final say in deciding whether a thesis will be restricted. 

If you are concerned having your content available in The Commons or ProQuest will negatively affect your future publication prospects, there have been several recent studies addressing this topic, which are listed below.



Hawkins, Ann R., Miles A. Kimball, and Maura Ives. 2013. “Mandatory Open Access Publishing for Electronic Theses and Dissertations: Ethics and Enthusiasm.” The Journal of Academic Librarianship 39 (1): 32–60.

Kearney, Margaret H. 2014. “Who Owns a Dissertation, and Why Does It Matter?” Research in Nursing & Health 37 (4): 261–64.

McCutcheon, Angela M. 2010. “Impact of Publishers’ Policy on Electronic Thesis and Dissertation (ETD) Distribution Options within the United States.” PhD Thesis, Ohio University.

Ramirez, Marisa L., Joan T. Dalton, Gail McMillan, Max Read, and Nan H. Seamans. 2013. “Do Open Access Electronic Theses and Dissertations Diminish Publishing Opportunities in the Social Sciences and Humanities? Findings from a 2011 Survey of Academic Publishers.” College & Research Libraries 74 (4): 368.

Ramírez, Marisa L., Gail McMillan, Joan T. Dalton, Ann Hanlon, Heather S. Smith, and Chelsea Kern. 2014. “Do Open Access Electronic Theses and Dissertations Diminish Publishing Opportunities in the Sciences?” College & Research Libraries 75 (6): 808.

Thomas, William Joseph, and Cynthia Shirkey. 2013. “The Continuing Cautionary Tale of Creative Writing ETDs.” North Carolina Libraries 71 (Spring/Summer): 23–33.

Truschke, Audrey. 2015a. “Dissertation Embargoes and Publishing Fears.” Dissertation Reviews. April 1, 2015.

———. 2015b. “Published yet Unpublished: The Dual Rise of Open Access and Dissertation Embargoes.” Dissertation Reviews. April 6, 2015.

———. 2015c. “Publishing a Revised Dissertation.” Dissertation Reviews. April 13, 2015.

———. 2015d. “To Embargo Your Dissertation, or Not?” Dissertation Reviews. April 20, 2015.

Students conducting experiments involving human subjects must complete a Human Subjects Institutional Review Board (IRB) application prior to beginning the research. The student cannot proceed with that research project until they have received approval from the IRB. Similarly, graduate students who conduct research involving vertebrate animals must submit an application to the Northern Michigan University Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) prior to the conduct of their research, and must receive approval of the proposed project before beginning their research. Students should work with their faculty advisor to complete all research compliance requirements. Note that ALL graduate students who have utilized human or animal subjects in their thesis research project must submit a copy of the IRB or IACUC approval form (memo/email) with their thesis, or the thesis will not be approved by the Dean of Graduate Studies and Research.

What goes in the Acknowledgements page?

This page is for professional acknowledgements; for example:

  • Funding received for research - mention the funder
  • Your committee
  • Other research collaborations

You may also identify your preferred method of citation on this page. Citation method may be identified in the acknowledgements, preface, or introduction.

What goes in the Dedication page?

This page is for personal acknowledgements (i.e. parents, siblings, friends, partner, etc.)

There are many pages that go in your thesis before your "thesis" starts; for example:

  • Title Page
  • Signature Approval Form
  • Abstract
  • Copyright Page (if applicable)
  • Acknowledgements

Review the Guide to make sure you have all the required pages and they are in the correct order