Library Glossary

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These are terms that you are likely to encounter when conducting research in a modern health sciences library.  For more help, ask a librarian or staff member. For more terms, see the Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science.

Abstract A short summary of an article’s content, usually provided by the author.   It can help the researcher to decide whether or not to read the entire  article.
Bibliographic Database A set of structured computer records that describe a unit of information, such as articles, books, or media. 
Bibliography A list of books, articles, or other works.  This is often in the form of a reference list, which identifies the works the author has referred to (cited).  Bibliographies can also take the form of a full-length work on a given subject.  
Call Number A combination of numbers and letters, typically on 2-4 lines, that uniquely identifies an item in a library’s collection.  These are constructed according to one of several standard classification schemes, such as the Dewey Decimal System or the National Library of Medicine Classification.  Lewis Library uses NLM call numbers.
Catalog See Library Catalog.
Circulation The use of a library’s physical materials through check out and check in.
Citation The identifying information for an article, book, or other information object.  It must contain enough information for a reader to locate the item cited.  A typical citation contains information about the author(s), title, publisher or publication, and the date of publication.  Other elements may be required, depending on the nature of the work.  Style guides, such as the AMA, APA, and Chicago manuals, specify how citations should be constructed and written.
Course Reserves Materials that have been designated by an instructor for the use of students in a specific course.  See the Course Reserves for more information about requesting, accessing, and using reserves.
Descriptor A descriptive term that is assigned to an item in a bibliographic database so that it can be located and retrieved.   Similar to subject heading and index term.
DOI Digital Object Identifier.  This is a permanent and unique combination of numbers and letters, assigned by the publisher of a work, which can be used to locate it wherever it is available online.  Example:  DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevD.15.2752
E-book An electronic book, typically delivered over a computer network.  E-book capabilities vary by vendor, but most offer hyperlink navigation and keyword searching within the text.  Printing and downloading functions are usually available, but are restricted to protect copyrights.  Viewing of some e-books is limited to one or two UNTHSC users at the same time.
E-journal An electronic journal that provides its content over the Internet.  Some are accessible to anyone, but many others require purchase of a subscription.  Lewis Library maintains access to thousands of e-journals.

Electronic Resources        (E-resources)

Term used to describe all of the information products that a library provides through a computer network.  This includes electronic books and journals, bibliographic databases, and library website pages.
Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM) Evidence-based medicine is a systematic process of appraising and using current research findings. It is a step-by-step process that includes: formulating a clear clinical question of patient needs; searching the current literature; evaluating the literature, deciding which studies are valid and useful to the patient; applying the findings to the patient's care; and then evaluating the outcome.
View the Evidence-Based Medicine Research Guide
Grey Literature Grey literature is typically produced by governments, academia, associations, or business and industry. It is produced outside of commercial publishing channels, which often makes it difficult to verify, locate, and retrieve. Examples include government publications, technical reports, newsletters, bulletins, white papers, position papers, fact sheets, conference proceedings, and other publications that are distributed freely. They can be either printed or in electronic formats.
Index See Periodical Index.
Index Term Word or phrase that is part of the controlled vocabulary used to describe what a book, article, or other item is about.  Index terms are assigned as part of the bibliographic record, which allows similar works to be retrieved efficiently.  Similar to subject heading and descriptor.
Interlibrary Loan A library service that allows patrons to borrow items not available in their library from another library outside the local area.  In the case of single articles or book chapters, a copy is usually provided that becomes the property of the requestor.  
ISBN International Standard Book Number.   Unique identifier that describes the specific edition and format of a book.    Example:  0071493743
ISSN International Standard Serial Number.  A unique identifier assigned to a journal, magazine, or other serial publication. Example:  0012-3692
Journal A collective work of articles in a given field of knowledge, usually published on a regular schedule.  Journals are scholarly in purpose and intended for a specialized audience. 
Library Catalog A set of structured records that describe the holdings of a library.  The Lewis Library Catalog, available online, contains records for charts, media, models, and printed books and journals.  All e-books have a catalog record, but not all e-journals.  (The Journal Finder provides comprehensive access to the Library's print and electronic journals.)
Link Resolver An online utility that uses information in a bibliographic record for an item, such as a journal article, to find related records and to provide hyperlinks for the user.   Linking success depends on the quality of the data in the original record and the availability of records in other resources.
Literature Review A literature review is a compilation of the research that has been done on a particular topic. Its serves to identify what is and is not known, identify gaps or areas of controversy, and to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the currently published works.
MeSH Medical Subject Headings, an extensive set of indexing terms developed by the National Library of Medicine.  The MeSH terms are assigned to the articles added to the MEDLINE database.  They are also used to describe books and other items in the Lewis Library Catalog.
Meta-Analysis Meta-analysis uses a statistical procedure to combine the findings from independent studies. These may then be used to evaluate therapeutic effectiveness and for planning new studies. It is often used as an overview of clinical trials.
NLM Classification The call number system developed by the National Library of Medicine for arranging library materials in the field of medicine and related sciences.   It is used to organize books and other materials in the Lewis Library.
Peer-reviewed Peer-reviewed journals are those that require submitted articles to be reviewed and approved by a group of experts in the field prior to publication.  This process helps to ensure that the articles selected for publication represent a high standard of scholarship. 
Periodical Index A finding tool that tells the researcher where to find an article in the literature covered by the index.  Article citations are typically listed by subject and by author.  In recent years, most periodical indexes have moved from print to an online format, and are now provided in the form of databases that provide not only citations, but also abstracts and, in some cases, the full text of articles.
Podcast An audio or video file that is made available on the Internet for download and playback using a computer or a mobile device such as an iPod.  Most podcasts have RSS capability, which can automate the download process for the user. 
Practice Guidelines Practice guidelines, also referred to as clinical guidelines, are a set of patient care strategies developed to assist in clinical decision-making. They identify, summarize, and evaluate the most current data concerning prevention, diagnosis, prognosis, therapy, and cost. Many professional physician organizations have established and published practice guidelines for their clinical specialties.
View the Practice Guidelines Research Guide
Reference List Also called a bibliography, the reference list contains citations for all of the other works referred to (cited) by the author(s) in their work.
Reference Services Research assistance provided by librarians and other library staff members.  Lewis Library provides a range of reference services, from suggesting resources to extensive literature searching.  Patrons can request reference service through the Ask a Librarian, by phone or fax, or by visiting the library.
Research Articles Research articles are published by scientists or researchers who want to make the results of their work known. Research articles usually include a summary, a description of the research, how it was carried out, and the results.
Reserves See Course Reserves.
Review Article Review articles provide an examination of recent or current literature on a particular topic. The range of material evaluated may be broad or very specific. It is usually not as in-depth as a Literature Review.
RSS A web publishing technology that allows end users to automatically receive new digital content from the provider.  Originally used for text files, RSS is now also used to deliver audio and video content.  Various types of RSS readers are used to capture and play the content, and many of them are available free of charge.
Search Alerts Automated database service that periodically runs a user’s saved search parameters and notifies him or her by e-mail if new results are found.  Search alerts are a feature of the Lewis Library catalog and many of the Library’s research databases.
Subject Heading A standardized word or phrase that is used to describe what a book, article, or other item is about.  Subject headings are assigned to items in a catalog or other database so that items can be efficiently located and retrieved.  Similar to descriptor and index term, but subject headings are used more broadly across libraries and literature. 
Systematic Review A systematic review focuses on a single question and tries to identify, appraise, select, and synthesize all high-quality research evidence relevant to that question. It often uses the same techniques as the meta-analysis to combine valid research studies. The seven steps for preparing a systematic review as outlined by the Cochrane Handbook are: formulating the problem, locating and selecting studies, critical appraisal of the studies, collecting data, analyzing and presenting results, interpreting the results, and improving and updating the systematic review.
VPN Virtual Private Network.  A software application that creates a secure connection between a public computer network and a private one.  At UNTHSC, Information Technology Services provides this software to enable authorized users to access resources on the UNTHSC network from off-campus locations. 

Wireless Network (Wi-Fi)

A communication system that uses low-power microwave radio signals to connect laptop computers, web-enabled cell phones, and other mobile devices to the Internet. 

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Page last updated on April 21, 2014