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Library FAQ and Self-Help: Glossary of Common Library Terms

Find quick answers to common questions and tips for using the Library more effectively and efficiently

Glossary of Common Library Terms

Abstract – A summary of the content in a work. Primarily used in Academic Journals

Academic Journal – A periodical containing scholarly articles written by authors, usually with advanced educational credentials. Usually the articles report on research findings but can also contain book reviews, theoretical perspectives, opinions/commentaries, etc.

Article – A brief work on a topic published as part of a larger Periodical

BibliographySee Reference List

Boolean – Terms used to combine or eliminate search terms. AND, OR, NOT

Citation – A reference to a source. Can refer to both reference list citations and in-text citations

Citation Style – Guidelines for citing different types of sources. Different citation styles have different guidelines. The Library supports APA, IEEE, and Vancouver styles.

Conference Proceeding  - Informal findings presented at venues attended by scholars or applied researchers. Often these informal findings will eventually become published in Peer-Reviewed publications.  

Database – Collection of information stored electronically and searchable by a computer. In the context of libraries, databases contain many published sources such as academic journals, trade publications, e-books, and more.

Discovery Search – System used to search multiple databases at once. The main search box on the Library homepage.

E-resources (electronic resources) – Library resources that are hosted digitally. Can refer to databases but also other specialized e-resources.  

Interlibrary Loan (ILL) - A service that makes it possible to borrow materials from other libraries through your main library. Learn more about SAIT's ILL service.

In-Text Citation – Details about a source listed whenever the source is consulted in the body of writing. Points to where to find the source in the Reference List.

Keywords – Significant terms developed in a search strategy. Typically used as search terms.

Library Record – The page that describes the information of an item in the library collection using metadata

Library Liaison – Your contact in the Library for support with research and citation. Each School has a dedicated liaison in the Library.

Limiters/Facets Options used to restrict search results to those only meeting specific criteria, such as a particular date or resource type.

Magazine – A periodical containing popular articles, usually tailored to a specific audience. Examples include Men’s Health, Popular Science, Cosmopolitan, Time, etc.

Metadata – Data about data – information describing a source’s components. 

Peer Reviewed – A process entailing experts in a particular field reviewing information before publication by peers. This process aims to ensure quality by publishing work that has been done according to disciplinary standards, typically with appropriate data collection and analysis.

Periodical – Any source that is published at regular intervals (daily, weekly, monthly, etc.). Typically used to refer to magazines, academic journals, and trade publications.

Phrase Search – Using quotation marks to require a database to find two or more words in the exact order listed. "Phrase Search" is a more narrow search than Phrase Search.

Permalink – A stable link that provides consistent access to a resource

Primary Source – An original record of events. Some examples include newspaper articles, diaries, photographs, etc. Primary source can be used interchangeably with Primary Research, which refers to data one personally collects using methods such as interviews and surveys.

Reference List – List of sources used or consulted. Each reference list entry contains all the information required to locate the source.

Research Article – A type of article found in an Academic Journal that presents the results of an original research study. Almost always peer reviewed. See Academic Journal.

Search Terms – Words or phrases used in a database to locate information. Sometimes used in conjunction with Boolean operators.

Scholarly Articlesee Academic Journal

Secondary Source – Information that analyzes primary sources to provide evaluation or interpretation. May include books, journal articles, etc.

Trade Publication/Trade Journal – Periodical written by and for industry/trade professionals. Focused on the interests of a specific industry, such as trends, new products, best practices, etc.

Truncation – An asterisk (*) used in place of potential suffixes (or endings) of search terms. E.g. Legal* would retrieve materials with legal, legalize, legalise, legalization, legalisation, while legalis* would only retrieve legalise and legalisation.


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