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Glossary

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

A

Abstract

A brief summary of an article, book, thesis or other publication.

Some periodical indexes provide abstracts in addition to citations; for example Sociological Abstracts. Abstracts may also be published at the beginning of journal articles.

Article Index see Periodical Index

B

Bibliography

A list of books, articles and other sources referred to in a scholarly work, and usually appearing at the end of that work*, Bibliographies on a particular topic can also be published on their own, and may be annotated, that is, may include abstracts, or descriptive summaries. Either type of bibliography can be very useful for locating more information on a subject.

* also called "works cited lists" or "reference lists".

Boolean Searching

The use of the words "and", "or", and "not" to combine search terms so as to increase or decrease the amount found. When used in this way, these words are called Boolean or logical operators.

C

Catalogue see Library Catalogue

Citation

The information which identifies a book, article or other publication so that you can locate it. A citation for a book usually includes the author, title, place of publication, publisher and date of publication; a citation for an article includes the author, title of the article, title of the periodical, volume and sometimes issue number, date and pages.

A list of citations, sometimes called a bibliography or reference list, usually appears at the end of an academic, or scholarly publication.

Citation Index

A periodical index that indicates how many times the work of one author has been referred to, or cited, by another author, and where. How many times a document is cited by other writers is an indication of its importance.

The three most-used citation indexes are: Arts & Humanities Citation Index, Social Sciences Citation Index, and Science Citation Index.

D

Database

An organized collection of records, standardized in format and content, and frequently found in computerized form.

F

Field

Database records are made up of fields, each describing a particular aspect of the item the record represents. For example a book record has fields like author, title, publisher, etc.

Full Text (or Fulltext)

The complete text of an article or other publication. All periodical indexes provide a citation, but only some include an abstract and/or the full text of the article.

I

Index

An alphabetical list of subjects, authors, titles, keywords, etc. which guides you to the contents of a document or group of documents. Most paper and electronic indexes allow you to browse an alphabetical list; electronic indexes, in addition, allow you to search by keyword or phrase. See also Citation index, Periodical Index.

J

Journal

A periodical which contains scholarly articles written by researchers in a particular subject or field of study. Journal articles typically include a bibliography of sources.

K

Keyword

A word or words used to query a database and retrieve matching records. Keywords can be words you might expect to find in the title, author, subject, or other fields in the records.

Key Concept

A separate or distinct topic that forms all or part of a research question; the idea behind the keywords. Many different keywords may describe a key concept. For example, the concept movies can be expressed by words like movies, film and cinema.

L

Library Catalogue

An index to the contents of a library or group of libraries, which allows you to locate material by author, title, subject, etc.

Logical Operator see Boolean Searching

M

Magazine

A periodical containing popular or general interest articles, usually written by journalists. Magazine articles rarely include a bibliography.

P

Periodical

A publication issued at regular intervals (daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.). Three major examples are newspapers, magazines and journals.

Periodical Index

An index, in print or electronic form, to a group of journals, magazines and/or newspapers, which allows you to search by subject, author, title, etc.

A periodical index may include articles, book reviews, book chapters, thesis, conference papers, etc. Subject coverage may be broad (e.g. Canadian Periodical Index) or specific (e.g. Art Index).

All periodical indexes provide a citation, but only some include an abstract and/or the full text of the article.

R

Record

A unit in a database containing descriptive information about the item it represents. For example, in an article index, each record describes one article.

Reference see Citation

S

Serial

A publication issued in successive parts and intended to be continued indefinitely. Examples include periodicals (journals, magazines and newspapers), annuals (reports, yearbooks, etc.) and conference proceedings.

Subject Heading

A word or phrase used to describe the topic of a book, article or other material in a library catalogue or periodical index. Subject headings are sometimes called descriptors or identifiers.

T

Truncation/Internal Truncation

The use of a symbol, sometimes called a wildcard, to stand for 0, 1, or more letters in a search word. The symbol used, and where it can be used, vary from database to database. Common truncation symbols are: * ? $

For example:
canad* will retrieve canada
    canadian
   

canadians, etc

wom?n will retrieve woman
    women
lab?r will retrieve labor
    labour

W

Wildcard see Truncation


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