Courtesy: Ithaca College Libraries
Definitions of Library Terms
Not sure what a 'monograph' is? How about the difference between 'primary literature' and 'secondary literature'? Here's some helpful vocabulary terms to get you on your way!
Index: A resource indicating where a source of information may be located. A book’s index (in the back of a book) is an alphabetical list of topics covered in that book. An electronic index contains citations to articles and books.
Database: Another name for an electronic index. Databases often offer more than just citations and can include the full-text of a resource.
Peer review: The process in which a new book, article, software program, etc., is submitted by the publisher to experts in the field for critical evaluation prior to publication, a standard procedure in scholarly publishing.
Journal: A term used by the academic and research communities for a resource that resembles a magazine. Most university-level research demands the use of scholarly journals. A journal can also be called a “periodical” by a library.
Scholarly journal: A journal published in the academic community, consisting of articles that have passed through a rigorous review process by the author's peers. These articles record original research and thought; most also contain bibliographies of cited and related works.
Monograph: An average length book on a single subject.
Professional monograph: A book intended to be used by members of a profession in the course of their work. Complete in one physical piece, the subject is written in a detailed, scholarly tone by a specialist in the field.
Popular monograph: A book published for the mass market; many are sold in bookstores or retail shops.
Librarian: A professional who specializes in the organization of and access to stored information and knowledge (regardless of access or storage format).
Primary literature: In the sciences, it is literature that includes original, primary research results in a specific field or discipline; in the humanities, primary literature serves as the object of study.
Secondary literature: Any work that is one step removed from the original source, usually describing, summarizing, analyzing, or based on primary source literature and materials.
Scholarly communication: The means by which individuals engaged in academic research inform their peers, formally or informally, of the work they are engaged in or have accomplished.
Citation: Brief, concise information about a book or journal title.
Bibliography: A list of citations of books, articles, and other materials compiled on a specific topic. Bibliographies may be found at the end of books or articles, or may be separate publications.
Subject headings and subject searching: Subject headings are words or phrases, assigned to a document or book, that contain the intellectual subject of that resource. Subject searches have to match those headings exactly.
Keyword searching: A type of search that looks for words anywhere in the record or citation. Keyword searching can also be called “word searching” or “text searching.”
Boolean operators: These are words that specify the relationship between two or more search terms when doing keyword searches: AND, OR, NOT.
Truncation: The ability to retrieve records of search terms that share a common root. Some sort of symbol (an asterisk * or a dollar sign $) is placed at the end of the group of letters forming the root search term.
Call numbers and classification numbers: Call numbers are a letter-number combination identifying the shelf location of a library item. Classification numbers indicate a broader subject area.
Interlibrary loan: A process used by libraries to receive copies of journal articles and to borrow books and other materials from other libraries.
The Library Research Process
1. Get an overview of your subject. If needed, use reference books (encyclopedias and dictionaries) in the library to get background information.
2. Define and refine your topic.
Example: Communication issues in autistic children
3. Identify key terms, concepts and search terms.
Communication = speech, impairment, delay, language, motor skills, vocabulary
Autism = autistic, ASD, autistic spectrum
Children = kids, toddlers, children, babies
4. Find resources.
Find books using the library catalog.
Find journal articles using the Library catalogue or an online database.
Find websites using a search engine, or look on the "websites" tab of this guide for suggestions.
5. Evaluate your information: Consider whether a journal is scholarly or popular, and whether your sources are recent enough for your assignment.
6. Cite your sources properly, and always avoid plagiarism! See our Citation Guides for more information on using Harvard, MLA and APA styles.