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Thesis Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Frequently asked questions are organized by the following topics:


Copyright FAQs

Who owns the copyright to my thesis?
The copyright to a thesis belongs to the student, according to the University's General Rules. As a condition of being awarded the degree, however, the student grants the University the non-exclusive right "to retain, use and distribute a limited number of copies of the thesis, together with the right to require its publication for archival use."

What if I have intellectual property in my thesis that is not covered by copyright (e.g., material that might be covered by patents, trademarks, etc.)?
Please refer to the Office of Technology Management's Policy for Withholding Graduate Theses from Publication.

How do I register my copyright?
You may register your copyright directly through the United States Copyright Office.

Am I required to register my copyright in order to deposit my thesis?
No. There are, however, certain benefits to registering your copyright. The U.S. Copyright Office provides a thorough explanation of these benefits.

Is there a way for me to retain my copyright when I submit an article for publication?
It could be possible for you to negotiate which rights you transfer to a publisher before you sign a publishing agreement. The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) has developed an author addendum that students may find useful in negotiating the rights that they transfer.

Is my use of previously copyrighted material considered "fair use?"
The Thesis Office does not advise students on what can or cannot be considered "fair use." Students are urged to consult the U.S. Copyright Office's explanation of "fair use." Students may find the following resources helpful in making their own determination--and documenting that determination--of whether permission is required for the use of previously copyrighted material in a thesis:

How do I know whether the material I'm using is protected by someone else's copyright?
Did you create the material? If not, you will need to identify the owner of the work's copyright and determine whether the work's copyright protection has expired. You may find the following publication of the U.S. Copyright Office helpful: "How to Investigate the Copyright Status of a Work." (PDF)

What if I created the material? Is it possible that I no longer own the copyright to my own work?
Yes. If your work has been published, you may have transferred the copyright to the publisher. Check your publishing agreement: if the publisher owns the copyright to your work, you will need to request permission to reprint it in your thesis and elsewhere.

Do you have a sample permission request letter?
Yes, a detailed example of the content that should be included in the permission request letter is provided on page 4 of A Student's Guide to Copyrights and Fair Use, a publication of the Office of Technology Management.


Thesis requirements/deposit process FAQs

Where do I look for current thesis format requirements?
The most up-to-date list of Graduate College thesis format requirements is located here.

Can I attend a workshop on thesis deposit?
An online thesis submission video tutorial is ready for viewing at any time. Workshops are offered on occassion. Check GradLinks or the Graduate College calendar for updates.

How do I include both Roman-numeral and Arabic-numeral page numbering in the same Word document?
The front matter pages of the thesis must be numbered with Roman numerals (ii, iii, iv, etc.), and the main text pages must be numbered with Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, etc.). If both front matter and main text are included in the same Word document, one way to accommodate both numbering styles is to insert a section break between the front matter and the main text. For further information, search Word's help feature for the phrase "Insert a section break."

Should I submit my thesis to the Graduate College for review if I am still in the process of making revisions?
No. You should submit your thesis to the Graduate College only after you have made all revisions and corrections requested by your adviser/committee and departmental thesis format reviewer and have proofread your work carefully.

Can I make changes or revisions after my thesis is accepted?
Upon final deposit, the thesis becomes part of the student’s academic record. No changes may be made to the thesis or dissertation after it has been accepted by the Graduate College Thesis Office.

What is the final date that I can submit my thesis electronically for the deposit?
Please note that your deposit must be completed by the deadline for your intended graduation period. (Deposit deadlines are listed here.) This means that ALL corrections and additional required materials must be received by the Graduate College Thesis Office no later than 5:00 p.m. on the day of the deposit deadline. Because further revision of the thesis may be required as a result of the Thesis Office's review, the Graduate College strongly recommends that students submit the departmentally approved thesis at least one week in advance of the deposit deadline in order to ensure themselves enough time to complete any required changes.

Where do I find the required supporting items I need to submit in order to complete my deposit?
Links to the required supporting items are available here.

How will I know my thesis has been accepted?
Your deposit will be confirmed in an email from the Graduate College Thesis Office after a correctly formatted thesis has been accepted and all required additional materials have been received.

Do I still submit a paper copy of my thesis to complete my deposit?
No. The Graduate College no longer accepts hard copy submissions for review or deposit.


Thesis release options/patent FAQs

What happens to my thesis after the deposit has been completed?
Shortly after each graduation period, the Graduate College transfers the theses of those graduates to IDEALS, the Illinois Digital Environment for Access to Learning and Scholarship. Doctoral students may also choose to have the Graduate College transfer their dissertation to ProQuest Dissertation Publishers. For more information, please carefully review the Release Options page.

Important note for those considering patenting their research:  The best way to protect the patentability of the research disclosed in your thesis is to temporarily withhold publication of the thesis, including the title, abstract, and the body of the work.  This can only be done through a formal thesis withholding process, administered through the Office of Technology Management (OTM).  Neither the IDEALS U of I Access or Closed Access release options nor the ProQuest embargo options are substitutes for contacting OTM and making a formal request that your thesis be withheld from publication to prevent premature disclosure of potentially patentable subject matter:

  • Limiting publication to the University community in IDEALS via the U of I Access option is still considered a public disclosure for patenting purposes, which could limit your ability to obtain a patent or greatly narrow the scope of possible patent protection.
  • Under both the IDEALS Closed Access option and all ProQuest embargo options, the title and abstract of your thesis will still be publically available.  The information contained in these parts of your thesis is considered a public disclosure for patenting purposes, which could limit your ability to obtain a patent or greatly narrow the scope of possible patent protection.

When/how do I request that my thesis or dissertation be withheld for patent review?
A student may request to have a thesis or dissertation withheld from public release while patentability is assessed by completing a Thesis Withholding Request Form and submitting it to the Office of Technology Management (OTM). The withholding request should be submitted to OTM before the thesis is submitted to the Graduate College. For complete information on the process for submitting a request to withhold a thesis from publication, refer to the Policy for Withholding Graduate Theses from Publication.

OTM will review the student’s request and notify the Graduate College Thesis Office that a thesis is to be withheld. Withholding a thesis for a patent review does not affect graduation or thesis deposit; all students are required to complete their thesis deposit by the deposit deadline.

How does a request for a patent review affect my options for the release of my ETD?
After submitting the Thesis Withholding Request Form to OTM, you may create your thesis submission profile and select from one of the three release options offered. Your thesis will be withheld from release into the IDEALS repository until the release is approved by OTM. After the thesis is released into IDEALS, it will become available according to the release option you chose during the thesis submission process.

Can I extend the period of time during which access to my electronic thesis is restricted?
The three IDEALS release options described on the Release Options page will accommodate the needs of most Illinois graduate students. For changes or extensions to your release option, review the request choices on the Release Options page.

Why am I asked to agree to the IDEALS deposit agreement during the thesis submission process?
All students depositing an thesis at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are asked to read and agree to the IDEALS deposit agreement. Basically, your agreement to this non-exclusive license allows IDEALS to make your thesis available according to the release option you choose during thesis submission and to make backup copies of your thesis or to migrate it to future file formats as necessary for preservation purposes. Students retain the copyright to their own work.


Electronic thesis and dissertation (ETD) FAQs

What is an ETD?
An ETD is an Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Instead of the traditional submission process, in which a student submits paper copies to be bound, catalogued, and disseminated in hard copy through the University Library, ETDs allow for the creation, submission, and dissemination of graduate research in digital form. The components and structure of an ETD are essentially the same as a traditional paper thesis.

What is IDEALS?
IDEALS (Illinois Digital Environment for Access to Learning and Scholarship) is the digital repository for research and scholarship produced at the University of Illinois. IDEALS collects, disseminates, and provides persistent and reliable access to the research and scholarship of faculty, staff, and students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Further information about IDEALS is available at

How do I format my electronic thesis or dissertation?
All Illinois theses and dissertations must adhere to the Graduate College thesis requirements.

Additional requirements for ETDs include:

  • The document must be submitted as a single Portable Document File (PDF).
  • Security settings should not be applied to the PDF file.
  • The PDF file should not contain embedded multimedia.

How do I convert my document into PDF format?

MS Word and Adobe Acrobat are two options for converting files to PDF. Installing Acrobat onto a computer allows the user to generate a PDF file by selecting “Adobe PDF” as the printer from within the word processing program. Computers containing both programs are available in computer labs on campus (for locations, see and on the 2nd floor of the Main Library near the circulation desk. Both programs are also available at a discount to students through the University’s WebStore.

Before beginning the PDF conversion process, however, you are strongly encouraged to embed the fonts you have used in your thesis into the file to be converted. Embedding fonts will help to ensure that the material in your thesis will display correctly when viewed or printed from the PDF file. (To further ensure that material displays correctly in the PDF file, use of either a Type 1 or TrueType font is recommended. Times New Roman, Arial, and Calibri are among the numerous TrueType fonts that are available in popular word processing programs.) For example:

  • In MS Word 2003, fonts are embedded by selecting “Options . . .” from the “Tools” drop-down menu and then clicking on the “Save” tab. Place a check in the checkbox next to “Embed TrueType fonts” and remove any checks from the two checkboxes located immediately beneath. You will need to re-save your file.
  • In MS Word 2007, fonts are embedded by clicking on the Office button located in the upper left corner and then clicking on the “Word Options” button. (In MS Word 2010, click on the File tab and select "Options".) Select “Save” from the list on the left, place a check in the checkbox next to “Embed fonts in this file”, and remove any checks from the two checkboxes located immediately beneath. You will need to re-save your file.

When converting LaTeX files to PDF, students may find the following resources useful:

PDF conversion services may also be found online. Some of these online services are free and others are not.

Students are responsible for checking the PDF file of their thesis after the conversion process to verify that all material displays correctly.

I'm trying upload my thesis for review, but the submission system doesn't seem to be working. Can you help me?
Before contacting the Thesis Office, please attempt a few basic troubleshooting steps in order to help us identify the problem. For example, have you tried using a different browser, computer, or internet connection?

My thesis file(s) are large (>512MB) in size. Will I still be able to submit them easily?
If any of your files are larger than 512MB in size, we recommend submitting them from a “wired” on-campus connection (e.g. any public computer lab on campus). It may also be possible to submit these files from off-campus if you are using a private, high-speed internet connection. However, it is not recommended to submit larger files from wireless internet available in coffee houses or bookstores, as these businesses sometimes limit the size of files you may transmit.

If you have any difficulties in uploading your thesis files, please contact the Graduate College Thesis Office at or (217) 333-6278.

When do I electronically submit my thesis or dissertation?
You should only submit your thesis for review by the Graduate College Thesis Office AFTER

  • your defense has occurred (if relevant),
  • your advisor and/or committee has approved the final version of your thesis, and
  • you have made all corrections requested by your departmental thesis reviewer.

Documents submitted prior to departmental approval will be rejected.

The Thesis Office will not review your submission until we have received notification of departmental approval. In most cases, format reviews will be performed within two or fewer business days of the latter of either (a) submission of the electronic document or (b) confirmation of departmental approval. You will be notified by email of the outcome of the Graduate College's review, including a list of required changes (if any) and instructions for completing the deposit of your thesis.

I have supplemental materials I’d like to include with my electronic thesis or dissertation. Can I upload these, too?

  • For thesis submissions, students may upload supplemental electronic files as part of their thesis or dissertation. These files are considered appendix items, and an appendix page must be included as part of the thesis and should be numbered accordingly. This page should include brief information about the supplemental file(s), such as “Appendix A: Interview Transcriptions,” and a brief description of the material.
  • The thesis or dissertation itself should be understandable without the supplemental appendix materials.
  • As part of the thesis, it is the responsibility of the director of research and committee to review and approve appendix materials.

Can I use the same submission service to send a PDF of my thesis for departmental review?
No. Departmental format review is an independent process, and your department may require either a paper or electronic copy of your thesis for review.

Where will my electronic thesis be located?
Following acceptance, your document will be electronically available via IDEALS, the Illinois Digital Environment for Access to Learning and Scholarship. Doctoral dissertations will also be listed in the ProQuest Dissertations & Theses (PQDT) database, the most comprehensive collection of dissertations and theses in the world.

Will my department still receive a printed copy from the Library?
No. The library will no longer provide a copy of your thesis to your department, as a printable PDF version of your thesis or dissertation will be available through the IDEALS website. However, your department may still require you to provide it with a print copy.

Who do I contact if I have questions about submitting my ETD?
Please contact the Graduate College Thesis Office at or (217) 333-6278. Many questions may be answered by consulting the web resources available on the Thesis Office pages.