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Researching in the Humanities: Glossary

Steps, tips and library tools to help you with your Humanities Research

Library Terms A to Z

This glossary provides you with the definitions of terms frequently used in an academic library setting.

Abstract:  A brief summary of the contents of an article.  An abstract usually appears at the beginning of a scholarly or technical article

Bibliography: A list containing citations to the resources used in writing a research paper or other document

Call Number:  a group of letters and numbers that is assigned to a particular book or periodical in the library and usually placed on the spine of the book or periodical. Books and periodicals are arranged on the shelves in call number order.  ACPHS Library uses

Catalog:  A database of print books, e-books and other materials including DVDs held by the library.

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 includes its author's name, title, publisher and place of publication, and date of publication.

Database:  A collection of information stored in an electronic format that can be searched by a computer. 

E-Book:  Book that can be read online.

Encyclopedia:   A reference tool containing articles about persons, places or things. General encyclopedias, like the Encyclopedia Britannica, address a wide range or topics, whereas a subject specific encyclopedia, like  is more specialized

Full Text: A work in its entirety

ILLiad:  This is the name of ACPHS Libraries interlibrary loan software

Interlibrary Loan:   A service that allows ACPHS students, faculty and staff to borrow materials from other libraries through ACPHS Libraries.  

Journal:  A periodical published by an academic press, learned society, government agency or professional organization, featuring articles which disseminate results, critical interpretations or reviews of scholarly or scientific research in a particular subject, discipline, or profession.

Keyword:  A word or term, chosen by the user, that best summarizes the information being sought

Library Catalog:  A specialized index that contains records describing the material available or accessible at a library

Magazine:  a periodical for general reading, containing articles on various subjects by different authors.

MLA Style:   A set of rules and guidelines for citing references as well as preparing and submitting manuscripts for publication from the Modern Languages Association.

Peer Review:  Part of the publication process for scholarly publications in which a group of experts examines a document to determine whether it is worthy of publication.

Periodical:  A generic term for anything published periodically including  magazines, journals and newspapers.

Plagiarism:  Copying another's work and passing it off as one's own.

Primary Source:   First-hand accounts, original works, or original research.  These materials have not been interpreted, filtered, or evaluated.

Reference Book:  A book such as a dictionary, encyclopedia or directory that contains brief facutual information on a subject.  Print reference books cannot be borrowed but there are many online dictionaries and encyclopedias that can be accessed via our library catalog or  E-Book collections.  

Scholarly Journal:  The main purpose of a scholarly journal is to report on original research or experimentation in order to make such information available to the rest of the scholarly world. Most scholarly journals are "peer reviewed"   Articles in scholarly journals usually are substantial in length, use specialized language, contain footnotes or endnotes, and are written by academic researchers rather than by journalists

Secondary Source:  Works that interpret and analyze the primary sources.

Style guide:  A guide that provides rules and formats for arranging footnotes, citations, and bibliographies. The choice of style manual depends on the discipline or subject matter.  See MLA Style.

Tertiary Source

WorldCat: A catalog of books and other material available in national and international libraries.