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Research Basics - All Subjects

Montgomery Library's Guide to Research Basics


Use this glossary to define terms related to the research process.

abstract - a summary of the work.

archive - an organized collection of documents providing a history of a place, institution, business, individual or group.

bibliography - a list of resources used by an author.

bibliography (annotated) - a list of resources with descriptive notes.

bibliographic tools (on-line) - tools available online to help compose citations: some are free, some are not.

Boolean search - a search strategy combining keywords and phrases with the Boolean operators (OR, AND, and NOT) used to search electronic databases for resources.

catalog - an all-inclusive list of materials in a specific collection organized by author, title, subject, etc.

circulation desk - the place where library materials are borrowed or returned and where questions may be asked.

citation - a description of a resource including information such as author, title, place of publication, publication date, and pages used.

citation style - the form a citation is to take: APA and MLA are two such styles.

copyright - the exclusive right, provided by law, for an author, artist, distributor, etc., to reproduce or sell a work.

database - a digital file of information holding uniform records arranged for ease of access.

DOI - a Digital Object Identifier assigned by the publisher when an article is published electronically, providing a persistent link to that article. 

fair use - an interpretation of how it is permissible to use copyright materials.

full-text - the work in its entirety.

interlibrary loan - the process by which resources can be borrowed from or lent to another library for the benefit of the user.

in-text citations - partial citation information which is given within the text. Complete citations appear at the end of the text.

literature review - an annotated survey of works published in a specific field of study.

peer-reviewed - the work has been reviewed and approved for publication by a panel of peers who are experts in the field of study.

periodical - a publication, also called a serial, that is issued at regular intervals. This includes journals, magazines, newspapers, etc.

plagiarism - using someone else's work without giving them due credit.

primary sources - documents consisting of first-hand information. Examples are diaries, letters, photographs, interviews and news reports.

reference - the act of searching within a resource or document to find specific information.

research - the process of gathering and using resources to provide facts and reach conclusions.

resource - for this purpose, it is a journal article, book, newspaper, transcript, etc. which can be used for research.

scholarly - written by a scholar or expert in the field of study.

secondary sources - documents providing a secondhand account of an event, often containing analysis of the event.

serial - a publication in any medium issued in successive parts in numerical or chronological order.

subject headings - a word or phrase, selected from a preferred list of terms, which describes the subject at hand.

works cited - a list of all the resources, also called references, found at the end of the text, which were used to complete the research paper or project.