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Glossary of Research and Library Terminology: Home

Glossary of Research and Library Terminology


  • A brief summary of the points in an article, which usually is printed just above the start of the article.
  • A source, such as a database, which compiles by subject, author, or title, articles in a selected group of periodicals and includes a summary of each article.

Advanced Search

  • An option often found in online databases that allows users to refine searches to specific fields, such as title or author.

Annotated Bibliography

  • A list of works (books, articles, documents, etc.) with descriptions and a brief summary or critical statement about each work.


  • A brief note, usually no more than two or three sentences, added after a citation in a bibliography to describe or comment upon the work cited.


  • A serial publication, such as a yearbook or a directory, published once a year.


  • A collection of abstracts (or complete short works) from the works of various authors, usually in the same genre or about the same subject.  The Norton Anthology of English Literature is an example.  Sometimes the anthology is a collection from the works of a single author.


  • The section of a book, usually after the main text, containing supplementary materials, such as tables or maps.


  • Public records or historical documents, or the place where such records or documents are kept.  The Hiram College Archives is located on the second floor of the library.


  • A contribution, usually non-fiction, written for publication in a journal, magazine, or newspaper.


  • A volume of maps, plates, tables, engravings, etc.  Atlases in the Hiram College Library are located in the Schneider (Flag) Room.


  • Information in a non-print format, such as films, DVDs, or CDs and includes visual and audio.  Often called media.


  • The process by which one is allowed to search an online resource.  This is done by IP Address and/or through a proxy server.  The Hiram College Library uses your Hiram computer username/password for authentication through its proxy server.


  • The person or group (also called a corporate author) responsible for a work.  Also includes editors, composers, and compilers.


  • An account of a person’s life, written or told by that person.

Barcode Number

  • The 14-digit number on the inside back cover of a book, which is used to check items in or out of the library.
  • The 14-digit number that is on the back of your Hiram ID and is used to check out items to you or to request books through OhioLINK.

Bibliographic Citation

  • The information, such as author, title, date, that identifies a book or article.

Bibliographic Database

  • A database which indexes and contains references to the original sources, thus it contains information about the documents, but not necessarily the documents themselves.


  • A list of citations to books, articles, and other works on a particular topic.  Usually refers to the lists at the end of a book or article, but may also be a book itself.

Book Review

  • An evaluation or discussion of a new book by a critic or a journalist.  Reviews may also be done for music and film (movies).

Boolean Operators

  • Named for English mathematician George Boole (1815-1864), who developed a system of logic (Boolean logic) to show relationships among terms or concepts.  The three main Boolean operators are AND, OR, NOT can be used in keyword searching to help narrow or broaden searches.

Bound Periodical

  • Formed when issues of a periodical are gathered together and placed in a hardback volume.

Browse Searching

  • Browse searching is limited to a single field, such as author or subject, and the results match the search statement exactly, so that word order and spacing are important.  This is in contrast to keyword searching which almost always involves multiple fields and where word order is not important.  The browse search results in a list of entries from one field.

Call Number

  • A combination of numbers and letters that provides a description of each item in the library collection.  Items are arranged by these numbers so the call number serves as the “address” for the item.  The call number also serves to bring together items on similar topics.  The Hiram College Library uses the Dewey Decimal System for creating call numbers.


  • A table, usually with sides, for an individual library users.  Carrels are located throughout the Hiram College Library, although most are on the third floor.


  • A list or inventory of the materials within a specific library collection.  The Hiram College Library catalog lists the books, journals (but not individual articles in those journals), CDs, DVDs, government documents, and other materials in the library.


  • To borrow books, CDs, DVDs, or other materials from the library for a certain amount of time.


  • To allow materials to be checked-out of the library.  Some materials, like closed reserves and reference books, are non-circulating and most be used in the building.


  • The department of the library that handles the check-out and returns of library materials.  The department also handles reserves, interlibrary loan, and OhioLINK.  Also called the Circ Desk or Front Desk.


  • All of the information needed to identify a book, article, or other source.  What is included depends upon the citation style being used.

Classification System

  • A system for arranging library materials in a logical order so that items on a similar topic are located together.  The library used the Dewey Decimal Classification.

Collaboration Station

  • Located on the main floor, the Collaboration Station allows group work in a small room with a whiteboard and computer connection to a large screen.

Controlled Vocabulary

  • A set of terms that have been carefully selected in order to have multiple terms for the same subject.  Includes both subject headings and descriptors.  A controlled vocabulary “controls” synonyms and is, therefore, a very useful tool for search databases that use controlled vocabulary.


  • A set of rights that protects the works of authors, artists, composers, and others from being used without permission.  This intellectual property protection comes from the U.S. Constitution and is defined in Title 17 of the U.S. Code.

Course Reserves

  • Books, articles, videos, recordings, and other resources selected by a professor for use by a class.  Physical copies in the library are kept at the Circulation Desk and may be used for 2 hours in the library, for one day, three day, or seven day.

Current Periodical

  • The most recent issues of journals, magazines, and newspapers received by the library.  They are shelved alphabetically on the west end of the main floor.


  • A system that organizes and arranges data into fields and provides the means to search, sort, group, and retrieve information from those fields.  In the library, a database is an electronic index that contains information about books, articles, images, and other materials.  Some databases cover multiple disciplines, while others cover only one.  For a complete list of databases in the Hiram College Library, see our A-Z List of Databases.


  • A library which receives the publications of a government or official body.  The Hiram College Library is a depository for U.S. and Ohio government documents.


  • A simple word or phrase used to describe a subject.  See also Subject Heading.

Dewey Decimal System

  • A method developed in the nineteenth century by Melville Dewey to classify and shelf items using numbers, from 000 to 999, to represent subject areas.


  • A thesis or treatise prepared as a condition for the award of a degree or diploma, usually a Ph.D. degree.


  • To receive data to a local system from a remote system, or to initiate such a data transfer.  The opposite of upload.

Due Date

  • The date by which borrowed library materials should be returned to the library.  To extend the loan period, one may request a renewal before the due date.  Once the due date is past, fines will be incurred.


  • Any book that comes in a digital or electronic format.  Most of the Hiram College Library’s e-books are found in OhioLINK’s Electronic Book Center (EBC).


  • All printings or a work from one setting of type.  A revised or new edition usually indicates new or edited text.


  • Any journal that comes in a digital or electronic format.


  • Any video or audio recording that comes in a digital or electronic format.


  • A note or reference placed at the end of a text or section of a text.  Similar to footnotes, which are placed at the bottom of each page.  See also Citation.


  • A literary composition in which the author analyzes or interprets a subject, usually from a personal point of view.


  • The part of a record used for a particular piece of information about the work.  For example, the title field in a database record contains the title of the work being represented in the database record.


  • The amount of money owed by the borrower if library materials are not returned by the due date.


  • An oversized book too large for normal shelving.  All folios in the library are in drawers near the elevator on the second floor.  All folio call numbers start with the word Folio.


  • A note or reference placed at the foot (bottom) of a page of text.  Similar to endnotes, which are placed at the end of a text or a section of text.  See also Citation.


  • The physical form in which information appears; for example, print.


  • The complete text of an item, usually an article.  Some databases include the full-text, as well as the indexing record, of an item.


  • A particular type or category of art, music, or literature characterized by a specific style, form, or content.

Government Documents

  • Materials printed by or for government agencies.  The Hiram College Library received government documents from the Federal government and the state of Ohio.


  • The Government Publishing Office, which is responsible for distributing federal documents to libraries, including Hiram College, which are depository libraries.


  • The materials owned by a library.


  • A resource that points to where information can be found.
  • A list at the end of a book that indicates by author, title, and/or subject the location of information within the book.
  • A tool that arranges (by author, title, or subject) citations to articles in a selected group of periodicals.
  • See also Bibliographic Database

Interlibrary Loan (ILL)

  • Exchange, for a short period of time, of books or periodical articles between libraries.
  • Service you can use to borrow library materials not owned by Hiram College or available through OhioLINK or SearchOhio.

IP Address

  • An IP (internet protocol) number is a four part number that identifies a specific computer on a network using the TCP/IP Protocol.

ISBN (International Standard Book Number)

  • A 10 or 13 digit number given to a book before publication as a way to uniquely identify the book. 

ISSN (International Standard Serial Number)

  • An eight digit code that allows for the unique identification of a serial publication.


  • A single, uniquely numbered or dated, part of a periodical or newspaper.


  • Sometimes called a Scholarly Journal, it is a type of periodical that contains signed scholarly articles.  Journals are usually published by university or association presses.


  • A word describing a topic or subject.  Unlike a subject heading or descriptor, keywords are not a form of controlled vocabulary.
  • A word that may form a part of a title, author’s name, subject heading, or other part of a citation.

Keyword Searching

  • Using a keyword, in either definition above, to search across all fields of a record.

Library Card

  • A form of ID that allows you to check out materials from a library.  At Hiram College, your Hiram ID serves as your library card.

Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH)

  • A published list of the official subject headings used in the Hiram College Library catalog.  LCSH is a controlled vocabulary and can be useful in focusing searches initially done by keyword.


  • An option in many databases that allow users to restrict search results not related to the subject.  Common examples are language, date, and format.  Limits options vary by database, so check the “Help” screen in the database.


  • The link resolver used by the Hiram College Library, which may also be seen as Find It.  A link resolver links you from an article citation to the full-text of the article. 

Literature Review

  • A literature review surveys scholarly articles, books and other sources relevant to a particular issue, area of research, or theory, providing a description, summary, and critical evaluation of each work. The purpose is to offer an overview of significant literature published on a topic.


  • Gaining access to an online resource, usually through a username/password.  At the Hiram College Library, when off-campus you need to login to the library’s online resources through its proxy server by using your Hiram computer account username/password. 


  • The LP (long playing), or 33 1⁄3 rpm vinyl record, is a format for phonograph records, an analog format for recorded music and voice.


  • A type of periodical that contains articles on popular topics aimed at general readers.  They are usually published weekly or monthly and contain advertising of general consumer interest.  Articles in magazines are shorter and less authoritative than those found in scholarly journals.


  • Films, tapes, CDs, and other audio-visual materials that require the use of special listening or viewing equipment.

Media Services

  • The department responsible for overseeing media and media equipment on campus.  It is located on the lower level of the library and has separate hours.


  • A micrographic reproduction of a book, journal, or other type of publication that requires a special machine, called a microform reader, to view the text.  Microforms include microfilm (on reels), microfiche (on sheets), and microcards (opaque cards).


  • A book.  It is generally a study of one subject or one person.

New Books

  • Area on the first floor of the library where books new to the collection are first displayed for browsing and check-out.


  • A daily or weekly publication designed to keep general readers informed about events in the world, a country, and/or a local community.    


  • A consortium of 121 academic libraries in Ohio and the State Library of Ohio.  For most library users, OhioLINK refers to the combined catalog of those libraries and the ability to easily request a book, not available at Hiram College, from those libraries,        


  • The status of an item that has not been returned to the library by its due date.  Overdues generally incur fines and when an item is more than 30 days overdue, the item is considered lost and the person who checked it out is billed for the items replacement based on a standard cost.

Patron Account

  • The record of what you have checked out, when it is due, what fines you may owe, and what books you may have requested from OhioLINK.  You may also, within certain restrictions, renew your items online through your account.

Patron Record

  • Personal information about you as a library users, such as name, address, email address, phone number and whether you are a student, faculty member or staff member.

Peer-reviewed (refereed)

  • The process by which scholarly articles are published.  An editor sends a submitted manuscript to experts in the field to review and evaluate in terms of the quality of research and contributions to scholarship.  Reviewers give comments back, which are based on to the author(s) of the manuscript.  Generally, the author revises the manuscript before it is published.


  • Any publication that is issued on a regular basis, usually at least twice a year.  Examples include magazines, journals, and newspapers.


  • The act of taking someone else's work or ideas and passing them off as one's own. 

Primary Source

  • An original document that provides information about an event or a topic.  What is a primary source varies from discipline to discipline.

Proxy Server

  • A server that acts as an intermediary for requests from clients seeking resources from other servers.  To login to the Hiram College Library’s proxy server, you need your Hiram College computer account username/password.

Public Domain

  • Creative materials that are not protected by intellectual property laws such as copyright, trademark, or patent laws. The public owns these works, not an individual author or artist. Anyone can use a public domain work without obtaining permission, but no one can ever own it.


  • An oversized book too large for normal shelving.  Quartos are smaller than folios, but larger than standard-sized books.  All quartos in the library are shelved on the northeast side of the second floor.  All Quarto call numbers start with the letter Q.

Reference Books

  • Books consulted for factual or background information.  They are not meant to be read cover-to-cover.  Reference books are located on the main floor in front of the current periodicals and must be used in the library.

Reference Desk

  • Located on the main floor, the reference desk is the place to consult a librarian for assistance with research or finding sources.


  • To get an extension of the loan period for a library item.  Please note that renewals are not guaranteed.  You may get an item renewed at the Circulation Desk or by logging in to your library account.


  • Books, articles, videos, recordings, and other resources selected by a professor for use by a class.  Physical copies in the library are kept at the Circulation Desk and may be used for 2 hours in the library, for one day, three day, or seven day.


  • A consortium of 28 public library systems in Ohio that functions much like OhioLINK.  The SearchOhio combined catalog may be searched and books requested by anyone with OhioLINK borrowing privileges.  A good source for fiction and other popular materials.

Secondary Source

  • Material that reports or comments on a primary source, event or work.  See also Primary Source.


  •  Publication that appear regularly, such as periodicals and annuals.


  • The open shelf areas on all floors of the library where the library’s materials are kept (shelved).

Streaming Video/Audio

  • Videos or audio recordings available through a service that allows one to watch or listen online without downloading.  The library offers streaming video through Kanopy and streaming audio through the OhioLINK Music Center.

Style Manual

  • A book or Web page that shows how materials used in one’s research should be listed in a bibliography or Works Cited page.  The most commonly used are MLA (Modern Language Association), APA (American Psychological Association), and Chicago (Chicago Manual of Style).

Subject Guides

  • Web pages created by Hiram College librarians to help you find useful materials for each discipline/major at Hiram College.

Subject Heading

  • A word, phrase, or group of words that describes the subject content of a book or other item.  In most databases (including the library’s catalog), subject headings, which may be called descriptors, are a form of controlled vocabulary.  An item may have more than one subject heading assigned to it.

Table of Contents

  • A section at the front of a book that lists the titles and page numbers of parts within the book, such as chapter titles or individual essays.

Tertiary Source

  • A work based entirely on secondary sources, rather than on primary sources.  It does not contain original research but summarizes research reported in secondary sources.  Examples include encyclopedias and textbooks.


  • A list of subject headings or descriptors used in a database with information about their use and relationship to other descriptors.  PsycINFO and ERIC each have an excellent thesaurus to help you construct good search strategies.
  • A lexicon or classification of synonyms and related terms, such as Roget’s Thesaurus.


  • The main point in a composition or essay.
  • A treatise written by a masters or undergraduate student.  Distinct from a dissertation done as part of a doctoral program.


  • Another name for phonograph records, an analog format for recorded music and voice.


  • Physically, a volume is a gathering of pages bound together in the form of a book.
  • Numerically, a volume is a full set of issues that make up a serial volume bound together.


  • A symbol that replaces at least one character (depending upon the specific database) in a search.  For example, in Academic Search Complete, the wildcard is a ? and it stands for one character so that wom?n retrieves both woman and women.  Wildcard symbols vary from database to database so always check the Help screen.