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Writing Center

Terms & Definitions

Article: a piece of writing about a particular subject that is often published as part of a larger publication, such as a book, journal, or encyclopedia.

Bibliography: a list of sources and citations, often found at the end of a book, journal, or encyclopedia article.

Call Number: the series of numbers and letters, usually marked on the spine of a library book or listed in the library catalog, which indicate the book’s location in the library.

Catalog: a comprehensive list of all of the items (including books) contained in the library; the catalog arranges items systematically and also contains descriptive details for each item.

Citation: the basic information that is needed to find a specific item, such as a book or an article. A citation typically contains author, title, and publication information.

Database: a comprehensive collection of information resources, such as articles and periodicals, that is stored and accessed online. Databases usually contain resources that are related to a particular subject.  

Dictionary: a reference book which gives the meaning of words; all words are listed in alphabetical order, and dictionary entries for each word also include information about word spelling, pronunciation, usage, and more.   

Encyclopedia: a general information resource that contains articles on many subjects. An encyclopedia can be generalized, and provide information on many subjects, or it may be subject specific, and provide detailed information on one subject.

Glossary: a list of definitions of the unusual, technical, or otherwise specialized terms used in a book. Glossaries often define words that are used by specialists in a particular field of study.

Journal: a type of periodical which is usually considered more scholarly than a popular magazine. Journals contain scholarly articles, they are often published by academic associations, and their subject matter is specific to certain fields of study.

Magazine: a type of periodical which is generally not scholarly in nature and which may or may not have an author.

Monograph: a book, covering a specific subject.

Peer Review: the process used by scholarly journals to assure the quality and relevance of the articles they publish. Before publication, articles must be read and approved by individuals who are experts in the subject of the article.

Periodical: a magazine, journal, newsletter, or other annual publication that is published at least 3 times a year.

Plagiarism: using another person’s words (including direct quotes) and ideas without giving credit to that person, usually in the form of a citation.

Serial: a publication which is issued at regular intervals. Serials include periodicals such as magazines, journals, and newspapers.

Thesaurus: a dictionary of synonyms and antonyms; also a list of terms that best represent the subject matter of a database.