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Glossary of Library and Research Terms

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Library and Research Terms to Know

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A brief, non-judgmental summary of a work, often of a periodical article, accompanied by the bibliographic description of the work.


Academic Journal  see Journal



A list of items such as books, documents, articles, videos, etc. arranged in a logical order and having something in common such as the author or producer, a subject, or the geographic region. Books, scholarly articles, term papers, etc. often include bibliographies listing the information sources on which they are based. A bibliography usually contains identifying information, for example title, author, publisher, date and place of publications of a book, so that the reader can locate the item.


Bibliographic Citation

The information needed for someone to find the item. For example, the bibliographic citation for a book would contain the Title, Author or Editor, Edition, Place of Publication, Publisher and Year of Publication. The bibliographic citation for an article would contain the Title of the Article, Author of the Article, Title of the Periodical, Volume Number, Issue Number (or sometimes the month and date), Year of Publication, and the Page Numbers. Sometimes also referred to as a bibliographic entry, reference, or just as a CITATION.


Boolean Searching

A method of combining search terms by expressing the relationship of one concept to another using connectors 'and', 'or', 'not'. The expression "Value 1 and Value 2" requires both values to be in the grouping retrieved; "Value 1 or Value 2" will retrieve either of the values; "Value 1 but not Value 2" will retrieve only Value 1 items with no mention of Value 2. See Boolean Machine for a graphic illustration of the Boolean relationship at  .


Call Number

Letters, numbers, and symbols (used separately or in combination) assigned to a library item (book, DVD, or map) to show its location in the library shelving system. Call numbers are derived from the classification system used by the particular library. Rider University Libraries use the Library of Congress (LC) Classification System. Books of the same subject have similar call numbers and are placed nearby on the shelves. An example of the call number for a book using the LC Classification System is: HD 1251 .I2 V36.


Catalog  see Library Catalog


Citation  see Bibliographic Citation


Controlled Vocabulary

The words and phrases used by a subject specialist when creating Subject Headings for an article, document, book, etc. for a specific index or catalog. For example, the books in the Rider University Libraries collection are given subject headings from the Library of Congress Subject Headings. Articles listed in the ERIC database are given subject headings by the indexers of that database from the ERIC Thesaurus. Using a controlled vocabulary brings together items of similar subjects under a single term. Compare with Natural Language.



An electronic collection of records containing either full-text documents, citations, or abstracts of articles. Rider University libraries subscribe to over 100 research databases that contain journal, magazine, and newspaper articles on general and specific disciplines. These databases are available to Rider’s students and employees 24/7. For off-campus access to the databases, use the University’s EasyPass.  Access the Rider Universities libraries’ databases at . Click Databases & Indexes.



Words or phrases used as Subject Headings.


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A work containing factual articles on subjects in every field of knowledge, usually arranged alphabetically. A subject encyclopedia is a similar work on a single field of activity or a single subject. An encyclopedia can be in print in one volume or many volumes, depending on the amount of material included. Some encyclopedias are in electronic format in databases, others are freely available online (e.g. Wikipedia).



A subdivision of the computer record used for a defined category or purpose. An example in a bibliographic record is the author field, where the name of the author is located.


Field Specific Search

A search of a Database that identifies the occurrence of a term, using either Free Text or Controlled Vocabulary, in a particular Field in the database. A field specific search is more precise than searching all fields. A common example is a "subject" search in a library catalog.


Full Text

The electronic representation of a document that includes the complete text of the original document (often a book or article). Depending on the file type, full text may or may not include images and tabular information.


Government Documents

Monographs, serial publications, reports, or official communication published by any public governing body--federal, state, county, or municipal. The Moore Library at Rider University is a federal depository and a NJ state depository library. It contains federal and NJ documents for public access.


HTML Format

A simple mark-up language used to create hypertext documents that can be read on any Web browser. Articles in databases that are in HTML format contain only text of the document with no graphics. Compare with PDF format.



A list, in alphabetical or numerical order, of the topics, names, etc. that are treated or mentioned in a publication or group of publications, along with references to the pages where the topics are discussed. Author, subject and title indexes are common; the type of index depends on the type of material covered in the publication. An index might be for a book, an encyclopedia, a group of periodicals, newspapers, government documents, etc.


Information Literacy

The ability to locate, understand, evaluate, utilize, and convey needed information at home, at work, and in the community (



A periodical on a specialized topic. Journals are often published by a professional association, society, foundation, or institute. A refereed journal or peer-reviewed journal is one in which the process to determine if an article will be accepted for publication is done by professional colleagues, or peers (also known as the peer review process). Sometimes these periodicals are also called scholarly journals or academic journals. See also Magazine.


Journal Holdings

A Web tool used for searching the availability of full-text periodicals, including journal, magazines and newspapers provided by Rider University libraries. Access Journal Holdings at the Rider University Librarys’ homepage at .  

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Keyword Searching

Searching which uses a few key, or important, words to retrieve books or articles on a specific topic or associated with those words in some way. The keywords could be used to search from the text of the document (if it is a full-text database), or some named Field (author, title, etc.) depending on the Database being used and the searcher's intent. Often useful for very new topics for which Controlled Vocabulary indexes will not have a subject term yet established. Searching by keyword often utilizes Boolean Searching.


Library Catalog

A database that provides the citations and locations of all materials (e.g. books, periodicals, movies) in a library or group of libraries. Most library catalogs are online and users can search the library materials by keyword, author's name, title, or subject heading. Access the Rider University Libraries’ Online Catalog at the Libraries’ homepage at .


Library of Congress Classification System

A classification system developed by the Library of Congress for its collection, and since adopted by most of the nation's colleges and universities. The system is particularly well-suited to large libraries because of its capacity for generating and accommodating new subject headings. An example of the Call Number for a book classified using the Library of Congress Classification System is: HD 1251 .I2 V36.



A periodical containing news stories or articles on various subjects and written for general readership (as opposed to a scholarly or technical audience). See Also Journal.



Refers to material (reports, articles, books, documents, etc.) recorded on photographic film at a greatly reduced size. Examples include microfilm and microfiche. The University Libraries provide microfilm/fiche reader/printer for viewing and printing the materials.



A non-serial work, complete in one part or set, usually on a narrowly defined single topic, e,g, a book or pamphlet (from


Natural Language

When choosing words or phrases to describe a document, article, book or other material's subject content, a researcher can select any appropriate term, often using the language from the document itself. Compare with Controlled Vocabulary.



NoodleTools is a Web tool that aids in creating bibliographies for research papers in either MLA, APA or Chicago-style citations using a series of forms to guide a person through the citation process. NoodleTools is a subscription service at the Rider University Libraries. Use EasyPass to access NoodleTools from off-campus. Create a NoodleTools account to use this service and save your bibliographies online. Access NoodleTools at the Library homepage at

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Online Catalog

A library catalog in electronic (machine-readable) format and able to be accessed online. Also known as an Online Public Access Computer (OPAC). Access the Rider University Libraries’ Online Catalog at the Libraries’ homepage at .


OPAC  see Online Catalog


PDF Format

PDF is short for Portable Document Format, developed by Adobe Corporation. This file type preserves all formatting, page numeration, and original images/charts/graphs/etc of the scanned document. Compare with HTML format.


Peer Reviewed Journal

Journal where the quality of the articles is maintained through a review process conducted by experts prior to publication. Articles submitted to a refereed or peer-reviewed journal are examined by one or more people with expertise in the field with which the article deals. The purpose of this is to give some assurance that the information in the article is valid and credible. See also Journal.



A publication that is produced at regular intervals, or "periodically", under the same title and is intended to appear indefinitely. Generally, the frequency is more often than annually such as weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc. See Also Magazine, Journal, Serial, Trade Journal.


Primary Source

First-hand accounts, original works, or original research, published in either paper or electronic formats. It may be a work of literature or art, contain scientific data, or detail an account of an event. See also Secondary Source.


Refereed Journal see also Peer Reviewed Journal and Journal.


Reference Collection

Reference Collection consists of books and indexes that provide definitions, quick facts, statistics, and overviews on a topic. Examples of reference materials include encyclopedias, dictionaries, almanacs and statistical sources. Reference books are usually consulted rather than read through and are generally not permitted to be checked out.


Reserve Material

Specific books, periodical articles, and other materials which teaching faculty require students to read for a particular course. At the Moore Library, reserve materials are available at the Circulation Desk.

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Scholarly Journal 

Journals that are written for a specialized audience often using technical jargon. Articles normally include an abstract, a description of methodology, footnotes, and bibliography. See also Peer Reviewed Journal and Journal.


Secondary Source

A source compiling or critiquing original works. Examples of secondary sources include literary criticism, biographies, encyclopedia articles, and journal articles critiquing the work of others ( See also Primary Source.



Any publication issued in successive parts, appearing at intervals, usually regular ones, and, as a rule, intended to be continued indefinitely. The term includes periodicals, newspapers, annuals, numbered monographic series and the proceedings, transactions and memoirs of societies. (From Harrod's...Glossary)



The shelves or bookcases on which the library's materials are stored. The plural, stacks, is often used. ("In the stacks on floor 3...").


Style Manual

Special handbooks that illustrate the accepted forms for citing references in bibliographies, footnotes, and endnotes. Some style manuals are for general use. Others are published by professional associations as form guides for articles in journals in that field of knowledge and research. Examples of standard style manuals include APA, MLA, and Chicago.


Subject Heading

Standard terms used to describe the subject content of a book, article, document, or website, also known as Descriptors. These terms form a controlled vocabulary that is consistently used to categorize and reference materials in a catalog or index. Compare with Natural Language.



When an index or database uses Controlled Vocabulary (a standardized word or phrase list), the thesaurus is an alphabetical listing of the terms currently in use. The thesaurus will also show relationships between terms such as synonymous or related terms, hierarchical arrangements (broader terms, narrower terms), and provide references from terms not currently in use to acceptable terms, including older words or phrases that are no longer used.


Trade Journal

A Periodical that publishes news and other items of interest for a particular trade or industry.



Truncation is a symbol put at the end or in the middle of a word in order to catch all variant endings or spellings of that word when searching a database. The truncation symbol for most databases are “*.” For example, “comput*” will retrieve computer, computers, computing, and computation


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Sources: Boise State University Library Web:, Glossary of Library and Internet Terms:,   and various other web sources.