Library Glossary

Use this DCCC Library Research Glossary to help define some commonly used terms and descriptions.

Summary or overview of the content of a book or periodical article.
The quality of being correct or true. The accuracy of a resource should be evaluated and can usually be checked by using other sources that provide the same information.
Annotated Bibliography
A list of citations to books, articles, websites, and other sources on a specific topic. Each citation includes a short summary or description of the work that may include some critical analysis regarding the currency, reliability, and relevance of the source.
A sentence or paragraph that describes, explains, or evaluates a particular document.
A piece of writing about a topic found in a newspaper, magazine or scholarly journal. See also "Periodical." See also "Scholarly Article."
The knowledge, expertise and reputation of the author of the site.
A deliberate attempt to present information in a way that will influence the reader's beliefs.
Compilation or list of all resources (such as books or articles) used to write a paper, even if only for background information and not actually cited in the body of the paper. See also "Works Cited”. See also "References”.
Computer program used to “navigate” the World Wide Web. Most common examples are Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome and Apple's Safari.
Call Number
Sequence of alternating letters and numbers that are used to organize and locate books on the shelves in the library. A book's call number is based on the book's main subject. For example, HF 4543 .A45 M78 1999 is a call number for a book on the subject of careers.
Complete bibliographical information for identifying a research source (such as a book, magazine or journal article). A citation for a magazine article should include the author name, the title of the article, the title of the periodical, the volume and issue numbers, the pages covered by the article, and the publication date. A citation for a book should include the title, author, publisher, city of publication, and copyright/publication date (most of this information will be found on the book’s title page).
Citation Format
Way of organizing the information that makes up a citation. Two very commonly used formats at DCCC are the MLA (Modern Language Association) and APA (American Psychological Association) formats. These formats are standardized for consistency within disciplines. For more information, please see the Citation Guides page.
Legal ownership of material that has been published, recorded or performed such as written material, musical recordings, movies, computer programs and art. No one except the owner of the copyright can copy the material without permission.
How reliable is the information? Can you find the same information in another source? Can you trust the author based on their background, education, publications and point of view? Information found on the free web may need to be checked against another source.
How up to date or recent the information is. This information can be on the web or in print. In research the date the information was collected is important for some topics (for example: medical treatments). Is the web page dated? Is the information up to date?
Collection of information organized for search (generally by keyword) and retrieval by a computer. DCCC databases include online reference books and indexes to periodicals that, in some cases, provide access to entire articles (i.e. full text). Note: this is NOT the same as an Internet search engine!
A digital long-form work created for display on a computer screen or handheld device. E-books are produced in a variety of formats and format specific software is sometimes needed to access the work.
A commercial company that provides full text articles and citations to more than 1500 periodicals in many subjects through electronic databases paid for by subscription.
HTML Full Text
Entire article available electronically through a database. Format is in hypertext or web format.
A section in the back of the book. When you look up your topic in alphabetical order, the index will tell you the appropriate page number.
A world-wide network of interconnected computer servers that can be navigated by using a browser (see above) to access web sites. Web sites may be linked to one another using hypertext. See also "World Wide Web”.
Periodical publication that is generally of a scholarly nature, with long articles (10-15 pages on average) that contain many sections (abstract, introduction, methods, materials, analysis, discussion, conclusion) and extensive bibliographies. Journal articles are generally written by experts in the field, such as researchers, college professors, or graduate students. Examples include Studies in the Novel, and Journal of Marriage and the Family. May be available in print, microfilm, or electronic form.
Important subject words or phrases used in searching for research materials. For example: "drug abuse", "poverty", "rape", and “stem cells".
Keyword Search
In databases and the online catalog, the computer scans the document records for the keywords that one types in. The keywords one uses for one’s search may be words that describe one’s topic or words that are likely to appear in the title of a relevant book or article.
Periodical publication that is generally of a popular nature, with short articles (2-5 pages on average) that often contain colorful pictures and no bibliographies. Magazine articles are generally written by journalists or free-lance authors who are not usually experts in the field they write about. Examples include Time, Newsweek, and Vogue. May be available in print, microfilm, or electronic form.
Periodicals stored in the form of microscopic pictures on film strips. The film strips need to be viewed and copied using a special microfilm reader/printer.
Periodical publication that focuses primarily on current news events. Articles tend to be short and are written by journalists hired by newspaper publishing companies. Examples include The Philadelphia Inquirer and The New York Times. May be available in print, microfilm, or electronic form.
Online Catalog
Computer program used to find books and videos in the DCCC Library, as well as, online e-books and streaming videos.
To write an idea in your own words after reading what someone else has written.
PDF Full Text
Term used in EBSCO and other databases/resources that refers to an article in the form of a scanned image of the pages from the actual magazine or journal. When the article is loaded on the screen, it appears exactly as it looks in the magazine or journal. Articles in this format must be viewed using "Adobe Acrobat Reader" software and may be slow to load and print due to the memory required.
Material that comes out at a regular period of time. A magazine, journal, newspaper, or newsletter that is published regularly (weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.). Each issue is numbered and/or dated consecutively, and contains articles, stories, opinions, or other writings. These include journals, magazines, and newspapers. Examples include The Philadelphia Inquirer, Newsweek, and Journal of Marriage and the Family.
Periodical Index
List of citations to periodical articles that is organized by subject. Print examples include The Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature and The Social Sciences Index. Online examples include databases such as Ebsco.
Using someone else’s words or other creative work without giving appropriate To avoid this, one should ALWAYS cite one’s sources and use one’s OWN WORDS whenever possible! To do otherwise is unethical and illegal.
Reference Librarian
A person who helps with research and answers questions in person, by telephone or by email and chat. This person has a Master’s degree in Library Science.
The sources of the information used in a research paper. These usually “refer” to the citations in a bibliography or works cited page.  It is the term required to appear at  the top of an APA formatted bibliography.  See also the "Bibliography."
Reserve Item
Item held at the DCCC Library circulation desk for in-library-use only by students in specific classes.
Scholarly Article
A written composition on a specific topic primarily for scholars. Usually these articles are much longer than articles for Time magazine or other popular magazines (more than 6 pages) and are published in journals. They are written by researchers rather than by journalists.
Search Engine
Program that allows users to search free (and often unorganized) information (in the form of web sites) on the Internet. Many search engines also organize web sites by subject in lists called directories. For example:, or
Computer that provides service to a college or other institution through specific software. May be interconnected to form networks such as the Internet.
Where one found one's information. In a database, this usually means the magazine, journal, or newspaper that published a particular article. For example: Source = Newsweek.
What a book or article is about. May also be called the "topic".
Subject Headings
The standardized subject phrases used by libraries to classify books by subject. These descriptive words/phrases are determined in advance by organizations (such as the Library of Congress) to assure that most (if not all) books on a particular subject are shelved under that subject using the call number. The DCCC Library uses the "Library of Congress Subject Headings".
Selection of "buttons" in computer software which are displayed vertically or horizontally and offer functions such as "back", "forward", "print", "file", etc.
Sometimes called a web address, the “Uniform Resource Locator” (or URL) is the address the computer uses to locate documents on the World Wide Web. A URL is unique for each web document, similar to a telephone number. For example: is the URL for the DCCC College Homepage.
Web Site
Document located on a computer that is connected to the Internet. May also be called a web page.
Works Cited
Compilation or list of the citations to the resources (such as books or articles) used to write a paper. The list refers only to those works actually referenced in the paper.  It is the term required to appear at  the top of an MLA formatted bibliography.  See also the "Bibliography."
World Wide Web
System for accessing Internet sites by clicking on hyperlinks.