Library Research Tutorial Glossary
Adjacency: a term relating to the searching of an electronic database. When using adjacency in a search, you are forcing the words together to produce narrower search results. For example, if searching "Carolina(w)Tar Heels," you are stipulating that the words MUST be next to each other, rather than anywhere in the document.
Boolean Searching: a method of searching in electronic databases by combing words or concepts together. There are three Boolean operators - AND, OR, and NOT - that are used to broaden or narrow keyword searches. Click here to see a diagram explaining how to use AND, OR, and NOT in Boolean searching.
Call Number: a unique alphanumeric code assigned to each item in the library. CPCC's libraries use Library of Congress's call numbers. Click here for help on reading a Library of Congress call number.
Card Catalog: an alphabetical listing of materials in a library, made with a separate card for each item.
Circulation: the library department responsible for checking out and reshelving books, maintaining information on books that have been checked out, and tracing lost materials.
Citation: information about a publication (book, journal article, video, etc.) that allows someone to identify and locate that publication. Citations for books usually contain the author's name, the book's title, place of publication and date of publication. Citations for journal articles usually include the author and title of the article, the title of the journal, the volume number, page numbers and date of publication.
Controlled Vocabulary: a set of official descriptors assigned to a particular entry in a database, illustrating the relationship between synonyms and preferred usage terms. Using controlled vocabulary to search will provide you with more focused results. Examples of controlled vocabulary include Library of Congress Subject Headings, MESH terms, and ERIC descriptors.
Database: a collection of related electronic records in a standardized format, searchable in a variety of ways, such as title, author, subject, and keyword. Common examples of databases are the library catalog and citation indexes.
Dissertation: a lengthy, written study of a specialized subject, specifically submitted for a doctorate.
Internet: a system of interconnected networks that electronically links computers from around the world.
Keyword Searching: a way to search an index or database by searching for particular words in titles, names, subject headings, abstracts and any other information available in publication records. This kind of searching allow you to combine keywords by using the Boolean operators AND, OR and NOT. Keyword searching is more flexible than subject searching because it allows the searcher to select his or her own words or phrases for the search.
Media: materials such as VHS, DVDs, films, audiotapes and CDs, that require special equipment to be used.
Microforms: documents that are reduced in size and available in either microfiche or microfilm. There is a microform collection on the fourth floor of CPCC's Central Campus Library.
Monograph: a scholarly writing, usually of essay or book length on a narrow subject.
Nesting: in boolean searching, a set of search terms arranged sequentially within a larger set; the order in which terms are set may determine the nature of the retrieved results. An example of nesting is: (humans and (genetic engineering or cloning)).
Online Catalog: an online database containing records of the materials owned by the libraries. Most, but not all materials are included in CPCC's online catalog, so you may need to refer to the card catalog.
Peer Review: the process by which articles are chosen to be included in a refereed journal. An editorial board consisting of experts in the same field as the author review the article and decide if it is authoritative enough for publication.
Periodical: a magazine, journal, newsletter, or newspaper produced on a regular basis. This term is sometimes used interchangeably with "serial."
PDF (Portable Document Format): a file format that has captured all the elements of a printed document as an electronic image that you can view, navigate, print, or forward to someone else. PDFs can be read by any computer (Macintosh, Windows or UNIX) without platform conflicts.
Popular Magazines: serials that target general audiences with popular or current news stories. Authors are not usually scholars in a specific discipline and do not conduct original research. These articles are not peer-reviewed.
Primary Sources: records of events described or recorded by someone who either participated in or witnessed the events or who got their information from others who did. Examples include newspaper accounts, letters, diaries, notebooks, and interviews.
Proximity: a term related to searching an electronic database. By designating proximity between two terms, you are commanding the system to retrieve documents which contain the terms close to each other. For example, if you search for "cancer(3n)treatment," cancer and treatment must be within 3 words of each other.
Proxy Server: a combination of software and hardware, which acts as an intermediary between a set of users and the Internet, allowing authorized users to access many electronic resources available through the CPCC library web pages from home.
Reference: the library department which aids patrons in using the library, helps with research problems, and assists in locating information. The reference department provides basic reference works for most disciplines. Materials such as dictionaries, encyclopedias, and biography guides are found in reference.
Scholarly/Professional Journal: journals that present in-depth, original research in a specific field. These articles have been reviewed by other scholars in the field for scholastic standards and validity. Professional journals may also contain profession or industry related news.
Secondary Sources: sources that record the words of someone who didn't actually witness or participate in an event, but rather investigated the primary sources. Examples of secondary sources include books and journal articles.
Serials: a publication that is issued in parts, indefinitely over time. Serials include journals, periodicals, magazines, almanacs, annual reports, numbered monographs, and other materials. This term is sometimes used interchangeably with "periodical."
Stacks: the area of the library where books are shelved.
Subject Headings: terms, names, or phrases that are assigned to a publication (book, journal article, video, etc.) and used to describe the contents of that publication. They form a standardized set of terms that are consistently used to group materials together.
Thesaurus: a book of concepts and terms with their synonyms, often restricted to a specialized field or subject.
Thesis: a written paper elaborating on original research, arguing a specific view. Theses are often written for the completion of an academic degree, usually the Master's degree.
Truncation: a symbol included in the middle or at the end of a word to include possible variations in spelling and alternate endings when searching an electronic database. For example, if searching for information on society, you could enter the phrase "societ?" to search society, society's, societies, and societal. Common truncation symbols include *, ?, and #. It is best to consult the help guide for each database when searching.