IRIS 42: Information and Research Instruction Suite for two-year colleges


A paragraph or two that summarizes an article, book, website or other information source. Online periodical indexes often provide abstracts of articles that are not available full-text. The authors of research articles in scholarly journals write their own abstracts in which they provide important keywords and results of their research.
Bibliographic Record
The online catalog is a database that contains information about materials in a library's collection. Each item has its own record. The information about the item in the record is referred to as the bibliographic record. Often used synonymously with record, but the bibliographic record refers specifically to the information that describes the item.
Bibliographic Citation
The defining characteristics of an information source, like books, articles, videos, and government documents. For a book, the minimum information is: author, title, city of publication, publisher, and date of publication. For an article, the basic information is: author of article, title of article, title of publication, volume/issue, date, page number.
Information about the source should be arranged consistently, following an established style found in
Style Manuals.
The list of works cited by an author at the end of an article, paper, book, or other research-based writing. There are also specialized subject bibliographies, published separately as books.
Books: Many types, here are two types:
Academic/Scholarly books: Written by scholars, cover academic/scholarly topics, published by an academic/scholarly press. Always include a bibliography, and frequently include other features such as a chronology or glossary. College and university libraries purchase primarily academic books. As a rule, for college-level work, students should use academic books.
Popular Press Books: You know what these are! May focus on a specific topic but in a lighter manner than academic books. Author may or may not have academic credentials. There may or may not be a list of sources. Popular press books may or may not be appropriate for college-level work; it really depends on your topic.
See also, Reference Book.
Boolean Operators
Search modifiers used to connect keywords in a database search. The most common Boolean operators are and, or, not. Some databases use and not instead of not; some databases use a + sign instead of and. Read database search tips to get the most out of your searching.
Software that allows you to view web pages. Internet Explorer, Safari, and Firefox are examples of browsers.
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Call numbers are on the spines of books
Call Number
The letters and numbers assigned to a book to give it a unique location in the library. Two common systems for call numbers are the Dewey Decimal Classification System, which is used by public libraries and some colleges, and the Library of Congress Classification System, which is the system used by most college and university libraries.
Catalog (Library Catalogs) Also called Catalogs, Book Catalogs, OPACs, Online Catalogs.
A database that contains records for items that a library owns, such as books, videos, reserve materials, reference books, and government documents. The catalog is searchable by a variety of fields, including keyword, author, title and Library of Congress Subject Heading. Online Library catalogs usually include a "Your Record" feature that allows users to log in and see what they have checked out, renew their materials, etc.
This means that the item may be checked out. Some Reserve items and videos circulate only within the library.
Circulation Desk
Located just inside the library's main door, the Circulation Desk is where you go to check out and return books, videos, and reserve materials; pick up items borrowed from interlibrary loan; look for lost-and-found items; reserve the study rooms; and more.
Information given in an index or catalog that provides specific and unique information about an item. The citation may include the article title, periodical title, book title, place of publication, publisher, volume, pages, and date. Citations are formatted following a specific set of rules or styles, such as MLA, APA, or Chicago.
Citing Sources
A hallmark of using information ethically, citing sources refers to giving credit to authors whose work you use. Citations are usually written following standard format from a style manual, such as MLA.
In computing terms, a client is a computer requesting something from another computer. For example, your PC, connected to the internet, is a client. Your client PC requests things -- login, web pages, images, files -- from servers on the internet.
"An architecture in which one computer can get information from another. The client is the computer that asks for access to data, software, or services. The server, which can be anything from a personal computer to a mainframe, supplies the requested data or services for the client." (
Controlled Vocabulary
Uniform language useful for performing more specific searches in online databases. The Library of Congress Subject Headings is an example of the controlled vocabulary used specifically for library book catalogs. Compare with natural language.
copyright symbolA copyright establishes ownership of information. Copyrighted information is often stamped with the copyright symbol, but not always. Always assume that information belongs to someone and give credit to the original author by citing the source.
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A searchable collection of information, usually in electronic format. Each unique item in a database is stored in a record, which has one or more searchable fields. For example: a library book catalog is a database of records describing items that are owned and located at a specific library. Research Library, a periodical index, is a ProQuest database containing records describing articles in certain newspapers, magazines and journals.
Deep Web
See invisible web.
Dewey Decimal Classification System
A system for organizing materials, used mostly in public school libraries, public libraries and some college libraries. Dewey Decimal Classification System call numbers start with numbers, like this: 658.409 F862g 2004 
The number before the decimal point represents the main subject area of the item, with trailing digits representing subject subdivisions.

Another organization system used in university and college libraries is the
Library of Congress Classification System.
A resource that defines words. Dictionaries are usually located in the reference collection. Dictionaries may be general (Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary) or focused on a specific subject (Dictionary of Economics). Some dictionaries are available in online databases: Merriam Webster's Online is an example of a free web-based encyclopedia.
A compendium, or collection, of information. Like dictionaries, encyclopedias can be general (Encyclopedia Britannica) or focused on a specific subject (Encyclopedia of Life Sciences). Some encyclopedias are available online in online databases: Encyclopedia Britannica is a subscription database often available from through your library's web site; The Columbia Encyclopedia is an example of a free web-based encyclopedia.
In a database, information in records is organized into individual sections, or fields. In the online catalog, fields include author, title, subject headings, and contents.
Finding Tools
Refers to tools commonly used to locate information sources. Common types of finding tools are: Catalogs, Periodical Indexes, and Web Search Tools. Floppy Disk
Floppy disk
Hard-cased 3.5" magnetic disk used for storing and carrying digital information. The disk goes into the "A:" drive of desktop computers. See also USB Flash Drive.
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Acronym for HyperText Transfer Protocol, the set of "rules" used by the internet to move files from web servers and make them readable in a web browser (such as Internet Explorer). Web page addresses begin with http or https to identify which set of rules to use in sending data back and forth between client computers and servers. Most browsers put in the http:// automatically. For example, will be treated the same as
A secure version of http, which stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure.
Index, Periodical Index
An index can be a couple of things. An index in the back of a book gives you access to the contents of a book. Similarly, a Periodical Index provides access to the contents (articles) in magazines, journals and newspapers.

A periodical index usually provides access to several hundred or thousands of different titles of
periodicals. Some periodical indexes are general, meaning they provide access to periodicals on a variety of topics. EBSCO's Academic Search Premier and ProQuest's Research Library are examples of general periodical indexes. Other periodical indexes are subject-specific, meaning they focus on a single subject. MEDLINE (medicine) and ERIC (education) are examples of subject-specific periodical indexes.

All periodical indexes provide the bibliographic citations for articles; some also include the abstracts. Other indexes provide the full-text of some (but usually not all) of the articles. EBSCO's Academic Search Premier and ProQuest's Research Library are examples of full-text periodical indexes.
Information Literacy
There are several definitions of information literacy, but they all basically mean the same thing: the ability to identify, access, and evaluate various types of information sources, and be familiar with the issues involved in using information in an ethical manner.
Interlibrary Loan
A service provided by libraries for borrowing books and articles from other libraries.
The term used to describe the look and feel of a search tool, such as a library catalog or periodicals index. Interface features include navigation aids, search boxes, placement and size of text, color, and overall ease of use.
The world-wide system of computers, linked through networks, that provides information transfer through a common set of protocol and standards. The internet provides data transfer for services such as email, file transfer, World Wide Web, and newsgroups.
Invisible Web
Information that resides on the Internet but which cannot be found by search engines because of layers of protocol or passwords. Most information in the invisible web is contained in databases, such as EBSCO's Academic Search Premier and ProQuest's Research Library. Some estimates say there may be as much as 500 times as much information in the invisible web as in the visible web.
Journal, Scholarly
see Scholarly Journal
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Major words in the title, abstract or text of an information source. In databases, keyword is also a search feature that searches all the fields in a record. Keywords are also associated with natural language.
Library of Congress Classification System (LC)
The system of letters and numbers used by many college and university libraries to organize materials by assigning call numbers. The leading letters of a call number represent the main subject of the item. To see a list of the letters and what they mean, check out this LC List.
Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH)
A thesaurus, LCSH collects keywords and designates specific terms to use for searching by Subject in the online catalog. You can also use LCSH to find broader terms, narrower terms, and related terms for your subject. 
Magazine, Popular
see Popular Magazine
Refers to microfiche (flat rectangular sheets) and microfilm (roll) formats whereby the contents of print material is transferred onto film for preservation, and is shrunk in the process. Usually, older issues of periodicals are transferred to microform. Requires magnification to read, usually via a microform reader.
Natural Language
Often used interchangeably with keywords. Natural language are words you'd think of to use to search for information in databases. Compare natural language with controlled vocabulary, which are the "official" words designated by a thesaurus for searching subject fields in a database. For example, the Library of Congress Subject Headings designate specific words to use in the Subject search of the online catalog. (But you can also use the controlled vocabulary terms as keywords in other database.)
Refers to accessing information, often a database, from a remote computer using a PC and an internet connection. 
Oversize Books
Books that are too tall or long to fit on the "regular" shelves. You will often see this designation in library book catalogs.
Pearl Growing
The concept of using one source to lead you to many sources. For example, say you find an article in a journal that's right on your topic. Scan the references at the end of the article (might also be called the Bibliography, Works Cited, Sources, etc.). If you find interesting books or articles in the list, you can use the library's resources to locate those books or articles. If your library doesn't have the source, you can use Interlibrary Loan to obtain it.
Peer-Reviewed Journal
See Scholarly Journal
Information published on a regular basis, such as daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly. Scholarly Journals, Popular Magazines, and Newspapers are all periodicals. The term periodicals is often used interchangeably with the word serials. This image shows the relationship between all these terms:
periodicals are published on a regular basis
Black's Law Dictionary defines plagiarism as the "act of presenting another's works or ideas as your own." Put simply, plagiarism occurs when you use information and fail to provide information about the source of the information.
Popular Magazine
A periodical written for a broad audience. Articles are on a variety of subjects. Articles are usually short, are written by journalists, and rarely (if ever) include a bibliography. Popular magazines include lots of advertisements and color photos. Examples include Time, Newsweek, Psychology Today, and Mother Earth News. Contrast with scholarly journals.
Primary Source
A first-hand account, or the first appearance of information in print. For example, personal letters, diaries, and interviews are primary sources. Also, an article appearing in a scholarly journal reporting on the results of a research project or study is also a primary research study. Compare with secondary source.
Ink on paper; not electronic. A book is a print resource. The Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature in book form is a print index.
Proximity Searching
Used in searching online databases, proximity searching lets you search for words that are near each other. For example: chocolate and deforestation will retrieve records where both those words appear anywhere in the record searched; chocolate w/5 of deforestation literally means "find records with the word 'chocolate' within 5 words of the word 'deforestation'." The number can be any number: w/1, w/20, etc. Syntax changes from database to database, so check the Search Help for the exact format.
A formatted collection of information about a single item. A record is made up of fields. Groups of records stored together are called a database. For example, the library catalog (a database) provides information (records) about each item in the library. Library catalog records typically include such fields as an author field, a title field, and a subject headings field.
Refereed Journal
See Scholarly Journal
The process of answering the questions of library patrons about research or finding information; the section of the library in which this interaction takes place.
Reference Book
Includes dictionaries, encyclopedias, handbooks, statistics sources, etc. Reference books may be general, which means they cover a variety of topics, like the World Book Encyclopedia; or they may be focused on a specific subject, such as the Dictionary of American History, or the CQ Researcher. Some reference books are also available in online databases; CQ Researcher Online is an example. Reference books cannot be checked out. See also books.
Reference Librarian
A faculty member who has studied the field of library science at the graduate level. A librarian is skilled in using print and electronic resources and is the person to ask for research assistance in the library.
Diligent and thorough inquiry and investigation into a subject. Research is a process that includes grasping the scope of the topic, using appropriate print and electronic sources, asking the reference librarian for help, and making use of bibliographies given by other authors.
Research Process
A systematic method for locating information in a variety of sources. The research process includes defining your purpose, collecting background information, locating and evaluating resources, and properly citing your sources.
Reserve Materials
A collection of materials for use by all students in a class. Any type of material that a professor deems appropriate may be put on reserve. Use the Library Catalog to find out what is on reserve and to get the call number.
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Scholarly Journal
A periodical in which the articles are written by scholars, for other scholars. Articles are often lengthy, report on original research, and include a list of works cited. Scholarly journals are devoted to a specific subject, such as Journal of the American Medical Association, or Political Science Review. Usually there are no or few advertisements because journals are usually sponsored by a non-profit agency, such as a university or a professional organization (such as the American Medical Association), but some journals do have many ads targeted to their audience. Because the decision about what gets published is made by other scholars in the field, scholarly journals are often referred to as refereed or peer-reviewed.
Search Engine
In common usage, a search tool used to find web pages and other types of internet content. Data about internet content is added to the search engine's database by spiders, or search bots (programs) that automatically search the internet for new web pages. There is no interaction or evaluation of sites by people.
Search Strategy
The combination of keywords and Boolean operators designed to get the best results from a database.
Secondary Source
As compared to primary source, a secondary source does not include a first-hand account. For example, a diary is a primary source. A biography based on information in the diary is a secondary source.
A synonym for periodicals.
Computers connected to the internet that provide information requested by other computers. For example, if you follow a web link on your PC, your PC is a client, and a computer on the internet serves -- or sends -- the files for that web page to your PC. One computer asking for files and another computer providing them is also known as a client/server relationship.
Style Manual
A book that provides instructions for formatting a paper, with regard to footnotes, bibliographies, pagination, citing sources, etc. Ask your instructor which style manual you are to use. The most commonly used style manuals are the following:

* MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (also called MLA)
* Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (also called APA)
* A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations (also called Turabian)
Subject Directory
A database of web sites usually sharing a common theme, compiled (and sometimes evaluated) by people.
Used to increase retrieval in a database, truncation refers to locating the root, or stem, or a word, and adding a symbol, such as an * . For example, genetic* will look for genetic, genetically, genetics. Truncating is often used interchangeably with the words stemming and wildcards, but in many databases these three things perform different functions. Check the Search Help screen in each database to determine what symbol to use and how to use it effectively.
URL (Uniform Resource Locator)
On the World Wide Web, a URL is the "address" of a web page. In the example below, the URL for the WCC Library is shown in the address box of a browser window:
the URL is the address that goes in the browser address bar
Flash DriveUSB Flash Drive
Small, portable memory device for storing and carrying digital information. The device is inserted in a USB port of a PC tower, keyboard, or monitor. Flash drives are also known as thumb drives, jump drives, memory sticks, and many other names. 
Web Search Tools
Include search engines, web directories, meta-search tools, web portals and specialty searches.
World Wide Web
Information accessed over the internet that is based on Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) to provide a common protocol and interface. One of the defining features of WWW is the use of hyperlinks to navigate between pages and information sources.

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