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EMPOWER: Information Literacy: Glossary

Terms used in these tutorials

The abstract of an article is a brief summary of its contents. Abstracts can save you time by helping you identify the best articles on your topic.

Scully, Malcolm G
Title: Taking the pulse of the Kalamazoo
Source: Chronicle of Higher Education 47, no. 38
(Jun 1, 2001): p. B16

Scully discusses the work by Jay C. Means, Charles F. Ides, and their colleagues at Western Michigan University to reclaim the Kalamazoo River. They are monitoring how contaminants flow through the river's watershed and are using sophisticated genetic techniques to study the effects of the contaminants on the organisms--including humans--that live in and around the river.

A bibliography is a list of the sources an author used when writing a book, article or essay. It is found at the end of written works. Bibliographies point to more sources about the topic.

Boolean logic uses words called operators. The three main operators are: AND, OR and NOT. Databases use Boolean logic to locate only those items that match your search.

The blue areas in the following diagrams represent the number of hits you would receive from doing a search using the Boolean operators AND or OR in the same database.

Using OR retrieves a large number of items:


Using AND narrows the number of items returned:


These identify published information so others who read your work can verify facts or research the same information more easily. Citations often include the author, article title, journal title, page numbers and publication information. Citations of Web documents also include a URL and the day the information was accessed.

A database provides a way of organizing information so that you can easily find what you are looking for. A journal index is the most common type of database in an academic library. Each article citation in a database is composed of individual pieces of information called fields.

Fields include basic citation information, such as the author, title,
etc. Some databases include fields for subject headings, abstracts, and other information, as well. When you do a search in a database, you may search in a specific a field. For example, when you use an author search you are searching only the author field. Keyword searches give you the option of searching all the fields at the same time.

Full text:
The complete electronic text of an article is called the full text. Some databases, like Wilson Select and ABI/INFORM, provide entire articles online. 

 an alphabetical listing of titles, authors, and subjects along with the
citation information (name of journal, date of publication, page numbers, etc.) of the publication in which the item appeared. Periodical databases are online versions of print indexes. 

The Internet is a global network, connecting many smaller individual networks. For example, a computer in your room is connected to another computer on campus. All the departments on campus are then connected to a larger network in your state. The statewide network is connected to regional, national and international networks.

A significant or memorable word or term in the title, abstract, or text of item in an index.

Library of Congress Subject Headings:
Many academic libraries use the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) which are divided into 21 branches of knowledge represented by letters:

A - General works
B - Philosophy
C - Auxiliary sciences of history
D - History (general)
E-F - History (Americas)
G - Geography
H - Social sciences
J - Political science
K - Law
L - Education 

alcohol AND (adolescents OR teenagers)This search will retrieve records on alcohol and adolescents, as well as items on alcohol and teenagers.

To put another's words and ideas into your own words. A good paraphrase shows you have a clear understanding of the source material. Paraphrases must always be cited.

Peer reviewed:
This refers to journal articles or other scholarly works that have been evaluated by a group of experts in the author's field. Reviewers make sure scholarly works meet the accepted standards of that field. Also known as "refereed."

Publications which are issued at least twice a year, including
journals, magazines, and newspapers are called periodicals. Current periodicals are those which have recently arrived. In Ablah Library they are on open shelves on the main floor. Bound periodicals are back issues that are shelved in the General Book Stacks with the regular collection.

Presenting another author's word and ideas as your own. There are many ways to plagiarize, purposefully or accidentally. One example is using another author's exact words without using quotation marks or giving credit to the source. However, even if you don't use an author's exact words, you are still plagiarizing if you don't provide citations.

Popular and scholarly sources:
Many of the assignments for your courses may ask you to use specific sources or types of sources such as popular magazine articles or scholarly or professional journal articles. See the page Scholarly Journal or Popular Magazine to find out basic ways that you can identify these types of periodicals.

A set of rules governing the format of messages that are exchanged between computers. 

Public Domain:
Creative material which has no copyright protection and which may be used or modified by anyone without permission. Material enters the public domain for the following reasons: 1) the work never had copyright protection; 2) the copyright expired; 3) the copyright was waived by the creator.

To use an author's exact words. Quotations must be indicated by quotation marks (" "), or as a separate block of text (block quote).

See "peer-reviewed."

Refers to the area of a library in which books and other materials are stored. This also refers to the book shelves, which are "stacked" one upon the other.

 To state the main ideas of one or a group of sources in your own words. Summaries must always be cited.

This is a way to search databases for variations in the spelling of a search term. First, a search term is shortened to a stem (ex. smoking can be shortened to smok.) The stem is followed by a wildcard symbol such as *, ?, or ! (depending on the database). The database will find that stem plus anything that comes after it. For instance, the truncated term smok* will retrieve records that include the words smoke, smoking, smoker, or smokers.

   *  The truncation symbol for EBSCO & ProQuest databases, and the Edgewood Library Catalog. 
?   !      Other databases may use different truncation symbols. Look for a links called "help" or "search tips" when you're at each database.


World Wide Web:
The Web is only one part of the Internet. It is a collection of information of miscellaneous documents, articles, opinions, stories, art, sounds and animations stored on Web servers, that you can access with a Web browser.