Northern Illinois University

Northern Today

Graduate students now must submit
theses, dissertations electronically

September 15, 2008

by Tom Parisi

Beginning this semester, graduate students at NIU will be required to submit their theses and dissertations electronically.

“The move to electronic submissions should make life a little easier for our students,” said Carolyn Law, NIU dissertation adviser.

“It is important that students are aware of the new mandatory system, but it is really only a change in the delivery and review process, not in the composition or preparation of the paper,” she said. “Students will still create their work and defend it as they always have.”

The new Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETD) process begins after a student has successfully defended the paper and received approval from his or her committee to submit the paper to the Graduate School for approval.

Thesis/dissertation advisers will review each submission as in the past, only now in PDF format rather than on paper. (Doctoral students must still present a hardcopy draft version to the associate dean three weeks prior to the defense.)

“The transition to mandatory ETD has been in process at NIU for about three years,” Law added. “As researchers, I think students will find the flexibility and accessibility of ETD very exciting. But the process will also save literally thousands of pounds of paper each year at NIU alone, so from an environmental standpoint, it’s absolutely time to go paperless.”

ETD is easy and has numerous other advantages:

  • Students may submit work from any online computer 24 hours a day.
  • Students save the cost of reproducing final copies. All fees are paid online directly to ProQuest, the nation’s largest repository of graduate student scholarship.
  • Electronic submissions allow for color graphics, animation, sound, video and hyperlinks, none of which was possible with paper reproduction or microfilm.
  • Students can gain the widest possible distribution. A student can choose the level of accessibility, from traditional (royalties-paying) to full-text Web access with the widest possible online searchability.

Everything students need to prepare and submit ETDs is found on the thesis page of the Graduate School Web site.

Students will begin by downloading or printing out the new Guidelines for Preparing and Submitting Theses and Dissertations at NIU. This document replaces and supersedes the Graduate School Manual for Theses and Dissertations.

Once a thesis or dissertation has been prepared according to the requirements of the new guidelines and has been defended and approved by the director and committee, students can upload the post-defense version by clicking the link button on the thesis Web page.

To assist students in the transition from paper to ETD, the Thesis Office is conducting informational meetings in October to demonstrate the system, walk students through the process and answer the questions of both students and faculty. Sessions will be held at the following times:

  • Thursday, Oct. 9: 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. in the Illinois Room of the Holmes Student Center.
  • Thursday, Oct 16: 6 p.m. in the Heritage Room of the Holmes Student Center.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 21: 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. in the Capital Room of the Holmes Student Center.