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Library Vocabulary and Terminology

Research: A process of learning whereby you search for information on a topic while growing your knowledge on that topic. A creative and systematic work you do to increase your knowledge and to apply that new knowledge to your thesis. A step of steps used to collect and analyze information to increase our understanding of a topic or an issue. (Wikipedia)

Library website: Home to all library databases, research guides (like this one), 24/7 chat help, and information about using the library. Located at

Database: An online collection of electronic information, available through the library website.KeywordA word you use to find information on your topic in a databases. A good search uses multiple keywords that represent the main concepts of your topic.

Article: A brief work (between 1-40 pages) on a topic, published as part of a journal, magazines, or newspaper.

Encyclopedia: A large book or ebook containing information on all branches of knowledge, offering background information with core concepts, terms, events, people, and definitions of a topic. Entries are in alphabetical order. Available through the library databases. Wikipedia is a public online encyclopedia, for example.

Serial: Information published regularly, including newspapers, magazines, and journals. Also called periodicals.

Journal: A publication, issued on a regular basis, which contains scholarly research published as articles, papers, research reports, or technical reports.

Citation: A reference to a book, magazine or journal article, or other work containing all the information necessary to identify and locate that work. A citation to a book thus includes its author's name, title, publisher and place of publication, and date of publication.

Reference:  a) A citation to a work is also known as a reference. b) A reference source provides access to facts or overviews on topics. For example; encyclopedias, dictionaries, almanacs, and handbooks.

Download/ save: To transfer information from a computer to a program or storage device to be viewed at a later date. What you should do when you find a good article.

PDF: A file format short for Portable Document Format. You can download a PDF copy of your article to your computer, or email it to yourself when you find it in a database.

Scholarly journal: A publication, issued on a regular basis, which contains scholarly research published as articles, papers, research reports, or technical reports. Also called a peer-reviewed journal.

Scholarly article: An article in a scholarly journal. Written by experts, scientists, and researchers for students and other researchers. Read the abstract, introduction, and conclusion first.

Abstract: A summary of a scholarly article, usually published at the very beginning of the scholarly article. Read this to get a sense of what the article is about before deciding if you want to keep the article for your research.

Peer review: A process by which editors have experts in a field review books or articles submitted for publication by the  experts’ peers. Peer review helps to ensure the quality of an information source by publishing only works of proven validity, methodology, and quality. Peer-reviewed journals are also called scholarly journals.

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