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Western Libraries

COMM 220: Communication Theory: Glossary

A personalized library guide for Communication Theory students.

Glossary of Research & Library Terms

For those who have difficulty with some of the library "jargon," here is a vocabulary list to of key terms to be familiar with:

Boolean Logic:  A type of logic that many search engines (on the Internet or in databases) use to organize search results. Commonly referred to as "And," "Or," and "Not," these options allow researchers to limit or enlarge their search results.

  • AND:  This option with narrow your search results.  For example, book AND history will get fewer results than simply book.
  • OR: This option will enlarge your list of search results.  For example, book OR history will retrieve every record that has either the word 'book' or 'history.'  This is a great search strategy for synonyms (i.e., searching for book OR manuscript).
  • NOT: This option may narrow or enlarge your search results.  For example, book NOT history will eliminate all 'book'-related results that have the word 'history' in the record.

Call Numbers: Call numbers are unique identifiers assigned to every library item that allows a user to efficiently retrieve the item.  For example, the call number for Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte is PR4172 .W73 1950.  

Citations: Citations are a way to record where you retrieve your information. Each discipline has their own citation style, so please check with your professor on which style you need to use.  Learn more here.

Communication & Mass Media Complete:  For Communication students, this database is one of the most important databases for your research.  This database covers over 500 "core" journals and publications to search within.

DOI: An acronym for "Digital Object Identifier," a DOI is a unique identifier for a specific document or object.  A DOI differs from a permalink because the DOI identifies the object, whereas the permalink identifies where the object is located.

Full Text: Databases that provide a copy of the entire article (attached to their record) are providing the full text of the article to you.

ILLiad: An agreement between libraries across the United States that allows libraries lend books to one another.  Take home message?  You can request a book from another library, from practically any location.

Lead Author: The first named author on a research article.  Usually this person carried out the majority of the research, then wrote and edited most of the article.

Library of Congress vs. Dewey system:  Post-secondary academic institutions across the United States organize their information by a call number system called Library of Congress.  Usually composed of a letter-number combination, these unique identifiers help researchers locate a specific item.  The Dewey system is another call number system that allows users to retrieve a specific library item, but is used at public and K-12 school libraries. Learn more about the Library of Congress Catalog here.

Monogragh:  A scholarly work that specializes in one topic (i.e., one book that focuses one topic).

Peer Reviewed/Refeered/Academic Journal/Scholarly Journal:  All of these terms are synonymous, and they refer to a journal that uses a peer review process. The peer review process is an evaluation method where one work is reviewed by other professionals working in the same field to ensure quality of content, methodology, and more. Journals use this method to vet scholarly submissions for quality purposes.

Note: Just because a journal is peer-reviewed/scholarly does not mean that all the publications within are scholarly documents.  For example, the peer-reviewed article may be published next to a non-scholarly book review.  Please be aware of this when conducting research.

Permalink: A portmanteau for "permanent link," a permalink is a URL that directs users to a specific article or webpage.  These links are necessary because webpages change over time (also known as "dynamic"), and the correct permalink will ensure that a researcher has access to the same page they wanted.

Summit: A consortium of libraries in the Pacific Northwest that lend books to one another.  Take home message?  You can request a book from another library located in the Pacific Northwest.

World Cat: The catalog that Illiad and Summit use to find display library items.