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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Dissertation and Thesis Research and Writing Guide for Music Students: Depositing Your Thesis or Dissertation

This guide is intended for music students working on researching and writing their dissertation or thesis.

Deposit Requirements for All Graduate Students

School of Music deposit requirements for your thesis or dissertation can be found in the School of Music's Graduate Student Handbook(s).

Submitting Your Dissertation, Thesis, or Scholarly Essay

For those doing a formal dissertation option (PhD and DMA 1 students), once the dissertation format has been approved by the School of Music Academic Affairs Office, the dissertation must be deposited electronically to the Graduate College.

The Graduate College has a deadline to complete the thesis and dissertation deposit process each semester. Because all corrections and all required deposit materials must be received by the Graduate College no later than 4:45 p.m. on the day of the deposit deadline, the Thesis Office strongly encourages students to submit the thesis or dissertation for review several days before the deadline.

Information about how to submit an electronic thesis or disseration is available online from the Thesis Office.

The Thesis Office also provides all required forms and checklists, and resources to assist students during the writing process.

After you present your thesis to the School of Music Academic Affairs Office and they have conducted the format check, they will submit the approved document to the Library for deposit into IDEALS.

The thesis will be limited to UIUC access by default. Once you have received confirmation from the Library that your thesis has been deposited, you may contact IDEALS to change the access settings.

In addition to a PDF file for the thesis or paper portion, you may submit audio or video files. Format preferences for deposit into IDEALS are found here.

Writing an Abstract and Selecting Keywords

An abstract is a summary of the topics and ideas you addressed in your thesis or dissertation. Abstracts are typically a pare or page-and-a-half in length and are meant to give the reader a general idea of the contents of your research.

There are four basic criteria your abstract should address:

1. The problem: What does your paper address? What are your research questions? What makes your topic different from published research? What is the importance of your research?

2. Your methodology: What process did you use to lead you to your conclusion? (Analyze books, score study, archival research)

3. Your findings: As a result of your methedology, what did you discover?

4. Conclusion: How does your work fit into that which is already done?

Tips for writing a good abstract:

  • Be consise and to the point - no need for too much detail
  • Your thesis statement is usually the first sentence
  • Include the most important information at the beginning
  • Use the same chronological structure as your thesis or dissertation
  • Revise!
  • Search ProQuest or IDEALS dissertations for examples

Keywords are broad terms that relate to your study and allow readers to quickly and easily access your work through search engines. You want to choose the terms that relate best to your topic of study. Some things to consider when choosing keywords include: composer names, performers, composition names, instruments, era of study (Baroque, Classical, Romantic, etc.), theory, analysis. You might pull important words from the title of your paper or abstract.


Use of counterpoint in Beethoven's late string quartets

  • Beethoven; counterpoint; string quartets; theory; analysis; nineteenth century; Austria

Traces of the French Revolution in Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique

  • Berlioz; Sinfonie Fantastique; French Revolution; France; Romanticism; Napoleon 


The Illinois Digital Environment for Access to Learning and Scholarship (IDEALS) is a service that preserves and provides persistent and reliable access to the digital research and scholarship of faculty, staff, and students on the UIUC campus. IDEALS aims to complement traditional scholarly publishing. Most theses and dissertations deposited from 1958 onward are available in IDEALS.

However, note that many UIUC music DMA dissertations pre-2015 cannot be found in IDEALS (or in ProQuest Dissertations) and can only be found in the Library Catalog.

If you have any questions concerning preparing papers for deposit, deposit agreements, or copyright and intellectual property policies, please visit IDEALS

IDEALS file format preferences.


ProQuest is one of the major tools for finding dissertations and theses. If you submit your PhD or DMA option 1 dissertation with the Graduate College, they will deposit it into ProQuest for you.