Writing and Research Tools

Tips to Avoid Plagiarism

  • Read tips and take the short plagiarism test on McGill's Student Rights and Responsibilities website to understand what counts as plagiarism and what does not.
  • Avoid taking notes on your computer from online resources like Oxford Dictionary while reading the source material. Read the article or section of the article, then write your own summary from memory. Return to the article only to check the accuracy of your details.
  • Do not cut and paste directly from an online source into a draft article unless already marked as a “direct quotation.” Citation programs and bibliography tools like Endnotes are good for this purpose.
  • After you have made notes on a reading, summarize them in 5 essential points on another sheet.
  • After you have completed all your readings on a particular topic, summarize them in 5 essential points. You may need to do this exercise several times, starting with 15 points and working down to 5. This summary will reflect your "world view" of what you have read. Think about:
    • how the readings relate to each other;
    • what are the prevalent themes;
    • how differences between the articles point to issues, gaps, conflicts, problems.
  • If English is not your first language, write the summary points in your first language and then translate them to English the next day.
  • Consider taking writing courses CEAP 642 and CEAP 643. Visit the Graphos website for details.

Schulich School of Music Style Sheet

The Schulich School of Music Style Sheet provides guidance for music-related elements of written documents based on current practices of standard disciplinary journals. For other issues, refer to the current edition of one of the following three style manuals in order of preference for the whole of your document: The Chicago Manual of Style, Turabian, and MLA.

1. Dating of Documentation

a. Historical sources in translations or modern editions:
Use the date, original or translation, which points directly to the citation list.
b. Fascimiles, reprint editions:
Use the original date and author
c. Complete translations, edited modern editions
Use the original author with date of original and edition, noting the translator in the citation.
d. Partial translations, combined editions
Use the modern editor or translator and modern year.

2. Epigraphs
The epigraphs source includes the author’s name and the title of the work.

3. Inclusive Language

Replace gendered nouns (such as "man" and words ending in "-man") with more gender-neutral language.

first-year student, not freshman
chair or chairperson, not chairman
humanity, not mankind

Referring to people or groups of people of varying gender using masculine pronouns is no longer recommended. The use of "he/she" and similar constructions excludes individuals who don’t refer to themselves using either pronoun. Consider replacing those pronouns with a gender-neutral noun:

Use this formulation: The candidate will be assigned to groups.
Not this: He/she will be assigned to groups.

Or use plural nouns to remove the need for gendered language:

Use this formulation: Participants must make requests using their own email accounts.
Not this: Each participant must make requests using his/her own email account.

The pronoun “they/their” is an acceptable gender-neutral option for singular pronouns if it makes sense for your writing.

For more resources, see the McGill Library's Inclusive Writing Guide (https://libraryguides.mcgill.ca/inclusive_writing).

4. Personal Names
Insert the full names of people at first mention. In the case of living composers year of birth should be included. In all other cases, list the years of life except in those cases where the name would be well known by any educated reader (e.g., Beethoven, Chopin, etc.). After first reference, last name only should be used.

5. Possessives
The possessive of a noun ending with the letter s is formed by adding an apostrophe and an s (e.g., Orpheus’s aria).

6. American and Canadian Spellings
The Canadian Oxford Dictionary is used for all words such as colour, labour, judgment, rigour and timbre where Canadian and American spellings differ.

7. Italicization of Terms
All musical and foreign terms should be italicized unless they are so familiar as to be considered part of English.   For example, timbre and etude would not be italicized unless used in the title of a musical work.

8. Pluralization of Foreign Terms
Form plurals of non-italicized Italian terms in the English manner by adding an s (e.g., concerto becomes concertos). Non-italicized terms in French, German, and Latin should be pluralized in the manner of the original language.

9. Translations and Titles
When an original text and its translation appears together, the original text is placed first, followed by the translation. When just the titles appear, the same principles hold, with the translated title appearing in parentheses.

10. Work Titles and Opus Numbers
Schubert’s String Quartet (not italicized because it is a generic title)
String Quartet in E minor, op. 59/2
Beethoven’s Fourth Symphony
Magic Flute
“Die Leidermann”

11. Notes, Keys, Modes and Pitch Class
-Use capital letters for all names of notes, keys, pitches, scale degrees, triads identified by root, etc.
-When specifying a notes chromatic level, use the word instead of the symbol, c-sharp.  In music examples, the music symbols available in Unicode fonts (https://support.apple.com/en-ca/HT201586), open-source fonts such as Bravura that comply with SMuFL (Standard Music Font Layout; http://www.smufl.org) or from musical software (including: http://www.mu.qub.ac.uk/tomita/bachfont/) may be used as suffixes.

-Do not capitalize the adjective, when specifying major and minor qualities of keys and chords and use hyphens as in the following cases: C-sharp minor, Symphony in A major, but A-major Symphony.
-When notating pitch class, use the pitch notation of the Acoustical Society of America in which “middle C” is C4.
-For intervals, separate the letter names by the hyphen or en dash; use lower case to indicate intervallic names like do-re-me

12. Chords, Thoroughbass Figures
-In text, names of chords and figures should be spelled out with a hyphen (e.g., six-four chord, A-natural seven chord, chord.
-For chord progressions in text, use roman numerals with the en dash, using capitols to indicate major, lower case for minor (I—V, ii7—V, etc.).
-Use fonts and tools available in music notation software for musical examples  and figures requiring stacked notations like dominant six-four chords.

13. Examples and Citations
-Examples typically involve music, while figures refer to graphs, illustrations, or photographs, and other sorts of documentation
-Both should be aligned left with the same margin as the body of the text
-Caption should be placed below the example and begin with the abbreviation Ex. and the number of the example followed by a period.  
-Caption references the full details of the example and point to what you would like the reader to see in the musical example. 
Ex. 2. Chopin, Etude in A minor, op. 10, no. 2, mm. 47-9.
Ex. 3. Comparison of Left-Hand Treatment by Beethoven and Chopin. (a) Beethoven, Piano Concerto in D major, First movement, mm. 50-4; (b) Chopin, Etude in A minor, op. 10, no. 2, mm. 50-4.  
-Where materials (music, photograph) are subject to copyright, source details of and permission to use follow; if it is the author’s own score or materials, indicate (author’s own score; copyright 2015).

Figure 1. Assemblage of Schoenberg’s annotations to Hans Pfitzner’s Futuristengefahr: Bei Gelegenheit von Busonis Ästhetik (Leipzig: Süddeutsche Monatshefte, 1917). Used by permission of Belmont Music Publishers.

-Examples and figures are placed after the reference to them in the text, typically at the end of paragraphs.  In the instance of a series of multiple short examples, it is recommended that they be assembled together in a single Ex. on the subsequent page (Ex. 3, a, b, c)

-Text references to the Example are made either directly within the sentence or as parentheses: a.) The opening bars of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony shown in Example 1 feature the well-known motive; or b.) The rhythm of the motive that opens Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony is well-known (Ex. 1).

-Musical examples should be created using notational software and inserted into the word document as jpegs or pdf inserts.  Examples or figures taken from historical sources should be high quality jpegs or pdf inserts at least 300 dpi. An example using non-standard notation follows:

Jason Noble’s Shadow Prism for solo guitar (2015), geometric diagrams indicate harmonic networks through which the performer progresses ad libidum while traditional staff notation indicates a fixed order of notes. Normal noteheads indicate plucked open strings, diamond noteheads indicate plucked natural harmonics, and circular noteheads indicate already-vibrating strings touched at the harmonic node without rearticulation. As seen in Example 2, two staves are required to show the difference between the notes as played and as sounding in this alternate tuning.

Shadow Prism score excerpt

Ex. 2. Noble, Shadow Prism (2015) mm. 30 – 32. (Author’s own score, copyright 2015.) Note the use of two staves and the graphic notations used.​

14. Graphical and Non-traditional Notational Elements

Graphical elements are typically incorporated by using notation software (e.g., Finale) in tandem with graphical design software (e.g., Adobe Illustrator).  The go-between file format is eps.  For example, standard notational elements may be prepared in Finale and then exported as an eps file into Illustrator, where the symbols and characters may be freely modified and new graphics introduced. The reverse is also possible: graphics may be prepared in Illustrator and then exported as an eps file and added to a score in Finale. Which method is better for a given project depends on the extent and nature of the graphics to be employed.
15. Concert Information for Programs

• All works to be performed listed in the correct order in French and English, the version being performed, the key, the opus or catalogue number, all movements to be performed, the complete name, birth and death years of the composers, and the names of any poets, librettists, and arrangers, transcribers or orchestrators.  All names should be spelt in the original language. The application form will do the formatting.

"The No-Fail Secret to Writing a Dissertation"

Theresa MacPhail, Assistant Professor at Stevens Institute of Technology, is a dissertation-writing workshop coach who shares her tips on the Chronicle Vitae website (where you'll also find discussion groups on scholarly writing).

Student Grant Writing Assistants

Student Grant Writing Assistants are available during the academic year from July 15 until February 15, 2024.

Schulich is committed to helping musicians develop professional skills in writing, critical thinking, project organization, and time management. Our Student Grant Writing Assistants Center provide group and one-on-one grant writing support to all members of our community as professionally trained tutors who are skilled in working with both domestic and international students.

Our model is collaborative. We find the best way to start writing is to talk about your project. Our goal is to help you develop the skills to understand the writing task, focus your thinking, and communicate in a clear and convincing way.

Student Grant Writing Assistants:

  • Aim to offer support in all stages of crafting a grant proposal
  • Available for one-on-one meetings to review and workshop proposals
  • Offer feedback on all elements of a grant proposal, including but not limited to genre, tone, style, content, and writing polish

Periodic Workshops:

  • Led by faculty members, periodic grant writing talks offer tips, tricks, and expert advice
  • Peer-review sessions


Meet our Student Grant Writing Assistants

Theodora Nestorova

An experienced grant writer for both performance and research projects, Theodora is the founder of Creatively Composed LLC, a consulting company for performing artists, has presented a “Grant Writing for Singers” Workshop at em2CONNECT’s From the Voice of, and previously worked at New England Conservatory's Entrepreneurial Musicianship and Writing Center as a grant writing specialist.
Theodora's clients have won hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants, and Theodora herself has been awarded both regional and international grants for her artistic and scientific research, including, but not limited to: the J. William Fulbright Study/Research Grant Scholarship/Fellowship, the Fonds de Recherche du Québec Société et Culture (FRQ-SC), the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Music Media and Technology (CIRMMT) Grants, the Centre for Research on Brain, Language and Music (CRBLM) Grants, the Analysis, Creation, and Teaching of Orchestration (ACTOR) Grants, the NEC Low Latency Project Grant, and the Oberlin Alumni Fellowship Grants.
Theodora is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in Interdisciplinary Studies / Applied Performance Sciences at McGill while serving as MGSS’s Voice Area Representative & the VP of the MGSS Symposium.

Breanna Stewart

Breanna Stewart: Currently a PhD student in Musicology at McGill University, with research interests including contemporary music of the 20th and 21st century, specifically French music and electroacoustic music, with interests in gender and sexuality.
Her work as a Student Grant Writing Assistant is not only informed by her personal experience applying for and receiving grants, being awarded provincial arts grants and SSHRC grants at both the master's and doctoral level, but also her experiences as a writing tutor at the Acadia Writing Center and her background teaching at various levels.
This year, she is also the President of the MGSS Executive Council.


To contact a Student Grant Writing Assistants, please send an email to: GRgrantwriting.music [at] mcgill.ca

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