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Glossary Of Library Research Terms


An abstract is a short summary of the contents of an academic source, such as a journal article, a conference presentation, or a book.
See also annotated bibliography and indexing/abstracting database.
annotated bibliography
An annotated bibliography provides an account of the research that has been done on a given topic. In addition to an alphabetical list of sources, which one finds in a bibliography, an annotated bibliography includes a brief summary of each source as well as an evaluation of its relevance and merit. The format and length of an annotated bibliography varies across citation styles.
See also citation styles.
An archive is a collection of historical and/or contemporary sources, which can include just about anything, such as books, journals, institutional and other records, private papers (e.g. letters, diaries), images, or physical objects. Balancing the preservation of its collection with accessibility is often part of an archive’s mandate, but the guidelines for users of archival collections vary depending on donor stipulations. For instance, see UNB Archives and Special Collections.
The term “archive” is often used by e-journals to designate the link to the back issues of the journal. When searching publishers’ homepages for materials published at an earlier date than the current issue, look for links called “archive” or “back issues” or “all issues.”
See journal article.
The term author has multiple functions in the research process. While “author” often refers to the writer/creator of published or unpublished content, it designates the person(s) or body that assumes responsibility for the work. The category of author often refers to a singular person or multiple persons, but it can also designate the editor(s) of a scholarly publication or a corporate author, such as an agency or organization that authorizes or commissions a publication.
The term author also represents a primary search field in a database or a library catalogue that allows you to search for works by a specific author. In the case of an edited collection, for instance, the name of the editor(s) would be the appropriate search term in the field of author.
See also limiters, field searching, and UNB WorldCat.
Assessing the authority of one’s sources of information is an important part of any research activity and depends on a number of factors to establish the degree to which the information is reliable, credible, objective, or trustworthy—what we mean by “authoritative.” In academic research, typically the most authoritative sources are those that are peer-reviewed, which means that the material has already gone through a process of pre-approval or review by one’s professional peers.
The deemed authority of an academic publication depends largely on the reputation of the author(s) and/or the publisher. Scholars build their reputations by publishing in peer-reviewed (refereed) journals or academic (peer-reviewed) presses, by presenting at peer-reviewed (refereed) conferences, and by being affiliated with academic institutions. In turn, academic publishers build their reputations based on the caliber of scholars they attract and the track record they create for the quality and breadth of publications in a given field.
See also peer review, conference, and bibliometrics.


A bibliography is an alphabetized list of sources usually found at the end of an essay, an article, or a book. Different citation styles have different requirements for formatting a bibliography and they provide different names for designating this section, such as a “Works Cited” page or a “Reference List.”
A bibliography is also the term used to describe a summary of all the work written by or about a particular author or topic within specific historical parameters, which can be a useful research tool for those undertaking projects that are comprehensive in scope (e.g. a doctoral dissertation).
See also annotated bibliography and citation styles.
Bibliometrics is the analysis of the quantitative aspects of scholarly publishing, increasingly used to assess the significance of an academic’s work (i.e. Author Metrics) or that of a particular publication in a given field (i.e. Article and Journal Metrics). Particularly in the sciences, bibliometrics is a method to gauge a scholar’s productivity and influence in his or her academic field but also a publication’s scholarly ranking.
To learn more, see the UNB Libraries’ Guide to Making Citations Count.
Boolean operators (or logical operators)
Boolean operators are the small but mighty words AND, OR, and NOT that establish the relationships amongst your search terms when you are searching a database or a catalogue. Use AND to link concepts and narrow your results. Use OR to search widely for synonyms and expand your results. Use NOT to exclude terms from your search; if using NOT, always locate it at the end of your search string.
You may notice that many databases (e.g. those provided by EBSCO and ProQuest) already have Boolean operators built into the search screen to help you establish the relationship amongst your search terms. Boolean operators allow you to search databases effectively and efficiently. For more details on effective searching, refer to the UNB Libraries’ Guide to Research Success, section 3.
See also field searching and search strategies.


call number
A call number is a unique alpha-numeric tag that provides a path to locating physical resources, such as printed books, printed journals, printed newspapers, microforms, government documents, printed maps, printed theses/dissertations, or archival materials. Along with the call number, you will need the location code to determine where a physical resource can be found at UNB Libraries. You can usually find a book’s call number printed on a label attached to the book’s spine.
See also location code, Library of Congress Classification (LCC), Dewey Decimal Classification, and government document.
How to Read a Library of Congress Call Number
How to Read a Dewey Call Number
How to Read a Government Documents Call Number
A library catalogue is a kind of database that you can search to find materials, including books, journals, newspapers, or films. At UNB Libraries, the main catalogue is UNB WorldCat.
See UNB WorldCat and FirstSearch (WorldCat).
circulating / non-circulating
Printed items at UNB Libraries, such as books and journals, as well as audio-visual items such as DVDs, are designated as either circulating, that is, available to be borrowed, or non-circulating, that is, for use in the library only. Items with a location code beginning in HIL-REF, HIL-SPEC, and HIL-CLC are always non-circulating. Also, you will find that some items placed on course reserve by instructors are designated non-circulating.
See also location code and reserves (course reserves).
A citation provides bibliographic details to allow the reader to locate material used by a writer in preparing a published document. By building upon other scholars’ ideas and by making this process explicit through a trail of citations, academics establish credibility and authority. The act of citing is intended to document a broad array of actions on the part of the writer, including referring to someone’s idea, paraphrasing someone else’s work, and quoting from someone else’s work, and to avoid plagiarism.
The actual format of citations, such as footnotes, endnotes, in-text citations, depends on the chosen citation style. Since each academic discipline and individual instructors use their preferred citation styles, find out which style is most relevant to your work.
See also bibliography, citation styles, plagiarism, and authority.
For more information, see the following:
UNB Fredericton Writing & Study Skills Centre
UNB Saint John Writing & Study Skills Centre
STU Writing Centre
citation analysis
Citation analysis is the process of evaluating the research impact of an article, an author, or the research work of an institution by tracking the subsequent use of one publication in the creation of more publications. For more information, see bibliometrics and the “Article Metrics” tab of the UNB Libraries’ Guide to Making Citations Count.
citation styles
Citation styles are systems of organizing cited materials according to very detailed guidelines. Examples of citation styles include the American Psychological Association (APA) Style, the Chicago Style, the Modern Language Association (MLA) Style, and the Council of Science Editors (CSE) Style. You can find citation style manuals in UNB WorldCat or ask for them at the Research Help Desk (Harriet Irving Library), the Science & Forestry Library and the Engineering & Computer Science Library.
For more information, see the following:
UNB Fredericton Writing & Study Skills Centre
UNB Saint John Writing & Study Skills Centre
STU Writing Centre
conference (academic, refereed) and conference proceedings
Refereed academic conferences are venues where scholars present their research, network with their peers, and exchange as well as critique each other’s work. The conference presentations are often published and become searchable in library catalogues and databases under conference proceedings as the publication type.
In the cycle of knowledge production and publication, conference proceedings fit somewhere between raw data and journal articles; that is, conference proceedings are the informal findings that become the basis of peer-reviewed publications.
See also authority and peer review.
controlled vocabulary
Intended to capture the essence of a topic, controlled vocabulary is a set of words or phrases used by a database, index, or catalogue to categorize its content. Also known as “subject terms,” “subject headings,” or “descriptors,” a controlled vocabulary helps you retrieve more precise search results by tapping into the preferred language used by a database. In most electronic databases at UNB Libraries, you can search for controlled vocabulary under the “Thesaurus” or “Indexes” links located on the main navigation ribbon of the database.
See also field searching, keyword, and search strategies.
Copyright protects the expression of ideas in a wide array of works, be they literary, artistic, dramatic, as well as sound recordings, performances, and radio and television broadcasts. You can think of copyright regulations as making concrete the rights and obligations of users, creators, and owners of expressive works. Specific examples of works protected by copyright range from books, articles, posters, manuals, and graphs to CDs, DVDs, software, databases, and websites.
For more information, see the UNB Libraries’ copyright web pages.


Unprocessed or “raw” data is a collection of values and/or measurements, which are collected and used by researchers to represent variables. “Processed” data, like statistics, is data that has been analyzed, interpreted, and evaluated, and hence, can readily inform scholarly research. For more information on data and its uses, see the UNB Libraries’ Government Documents, Data and Maps/GIS guide.
See also statistics.
Academic resources at UNB Libraries include hundreds of licensed electronic databases. These databases contain records that refer to a wide array of electronic and print resources, such as articles, books, conference proceedings, reviews, and reports, in a given field of study. The quality of resources found in electronic databases is often not available through search engines like Google or Yahoo. Databases also include features that are specifically designed for researchers in a particular subject or discipline. For instance, historians can search by era; social scientists can search by demographic details, such as gender, age, etc.; and biologists can search by taxonomic data.
Keep in mind that a search in UNB Libraries’ electronic databases generates a list of results that do not represent the full-text holdings at UNB Libraries, but the publications indexed in those electronic databases. Most UNB Libraries’ databases are a combination of indexing/abstracting and full-text databases in that they index and provide abstracts for all items but only provide access to the full-text for some items. Consequently, you may retrieve search results that have direct links to “html full-text” or “pdf full-text” but also, in the same list, have links that ask you to “Check for full-text” with the UNB sail symbol, which will redirect your query to UNB’s print and electronic holdings.
If an item is indexed in an electronic database but the full-text is unavailable, use the document delivery system to obtain a copy of the material.
See also full-text, proxy login, indexing/abstracting database, and document delivery.
Dewey Decimal Classification System
The Dewey Decimal Classification uses numerals to represent subjects. The hundreds digit represents a large disciplinary grouping, the tens digit represents a field within that discipline, the one's digit represents an aspect of that field, and so forth. For instance, the 300's are the Social Sciences, the 370's cover Education, and 378 is Higher Education.
Dewey Decimal call numbers are used in several UNB Libraries’ location codes, among which are HIL-AV4, HIL-BBKRM, HIL-CLC, HIL-JUV, and HIL-SPECCL. There are some variations among the call number formats used in these locations, but the basic structure remains the same in all Dewey Decimal call numbers.
See also call number, location code, government document, and Library of Congress Classification (LCC).
For more information, see the following:
How to Read a Dewey Call Number
Directories contain organized lists of the names and addresses of people, organizations, institutions, and companies. There are also directories relevant specifically to library resources, such as directories of authors, periodicals, and microforms.
dissertations and theses
Dissertations and theses are the terms used to describe the final piece of written work, representing original research and thinking, submitted by a graduate student for credit towards an academic degree. In general, “dissertation” is the term for a doctoral level study and “thesis” is the term for a master’s level study (though sometimes an undergraduate student may undertake an “honours thesis” to cap an undergraduate degree).
Not unlike other materials, dissertations and theses can be available in different formats, such as print, electronic, and microform. At UNB Libraries, you may find records for theses/dissertations in UNB WorldCat (note that “thesis/dissertation” is a category under “format” on the left-hand side of the screen displaying search results). UNB Libraries also offers access to two searchable databases to find theses and dissertations from 1997 to the present day:
Dissertations & Theses (PQDT: formerly Digital Dissertations) for dissertations and theses from depositing universities in North America
EThOS (Electronic Theses Online Service : UK Theses) for UK theses (e- and paper-based)
Print copies of theses and dissertations submitted to UNB can be consulted in the UNB Archives & Special Collections department.
For more information about the UNB thesis template, see the Electronic Theses & Dissertations Four Step Process. Also, visit the UNB Libraries’ online institutional repository in which you can preserve your digital thesis/dissertation permanently.
See also grey literature and format.
document delivery (commonly known as inter-library loan)
Items that are not found in UNB WorldCat can be requested through the document delivery system from other libraries. Also, items located across different UNB campuses can be requested using the same system. There are several ways to access the document delivery service, but the easiest way is to request items directly from within the catalogue using the red, “request item” button. For instance, if an item cannot be found in UNB WorldCat, change your search mode to “Libraries Worldwide” in WorldCat, locate your item, select the catalogue link to the item’s record, and then select the red, “request item” button to initiate your request.
You can also find the link to document delivery on the libraries' home page, under QuickLinks.
A digital object identifier (doi) is a character string used to uniquely and permanently identify electronic documents. Since the doi for a document is permanent, it provides a more stable link than a url, which can change and may require updating. Some citation styles, such as the APA, require the inclusion of the doi as part of its citation guidelines. Check the appropriate citation style guide. Most indexing/abstracting databases include each article’s doi as a field in the record.
See also url, citation, and citation styles.
Durable links, also called persistent links, directly connect you to specific UNB Libraries' holdings that require authentication or verification of your UNB or STU affiliation. Copying and pasting links from your browser will typically fail when sharing or bookmarking licenced e-resources.  However, durable links include the UNB and STU proxy information so you can easily verify your university affiliation and connect with subscribed library e-resources.
Read our Durable Links to Library Resources guide for more information.
See also licensed resource, and proxy login.


An e-book is a book that is accessible electronically. Books can be available in different formats, such as print, electronic, or audio. Some books are available in only one format while others are available in multiple formats. To see all the formats in which a book is available in UNB WorldCat, choose the “Editions and formats” link located on the search results page below each item.
If UNB Libraries owns or subscribes to a book in electronic format but not the print version, and if the print version exists at another library, you can submit a request to borrow the print book through our document delivery service. Please note, however, that e-books cannot be borrowed from other libraries; UNB Libraries must own or subscribe to the e-book for UNB or STU users to be able to access it.
Some e-books can be viewed by multiple users simultaneously, while other e-books can only be viewed by one user at a time. As well, some e-books can be downloaded to a computer or personal device (e.g. tablet, e-reader, phone) for a limited time period so that the book can be viewed offline. There are no universal regulations regarding e-books--the option to download an e-book, the lending period, and the additional software requirements for viewing an e-book offline depend on the e-book in question. For more information, see UNB Libraries’ e-Book collections, especially the “details” section beside each e-book collection.
See also document delivery, format, mobile app, and mobile devices (access).
In academic publishing, a printed book can be re-published across a number of editions that may feature revisions, additional content, and different contributors. When searching in UNB WorldCat, you can find out which editions of a book (print and /or electronic) are owned by UNB or other libraries (if you change the settings to “Libraries Worldwide”) by simply selecting the “Editions and formats” link located on the search results page directly below each listed item.
See also format and limiters.


field searching
Field searching is a type of search, in a catalogue or a database, that allows you to enter information in specific fields such as author, title, or subject. The advantage of a well-crafted field search is the resulting precision and relevance of retrieved information rather than its sheer quantity. Though the default search in databases is often “keyword,” which finds matches for the search words in any field of a database, you can refine your search by utilizing multiple search fields often found in the “advanced search” option. The “advanced search,” available in many databases, provides a greater variety of search fields in addition to limiters that can help you further refine your search.
See also limiters.
finding aid
In archival research, a finding aid is a detailed record of what is contained in a given collection of materials. Scholars use finding aids to quickly determine whether an archival collection is relevant to their research.
For more information, see the examples of finding aids at UNB Archives & Special Collections.
FirstSearch (WorldCat)
WorldCat FirstSearch is one of the catalogues available at UNB Libraries. For the seasoned researcher, WorldCat FirstSearch is especially useful for searching detailed records within UNB’s and other libraries’ holdings. The advantages of WorldCat FirstSearch include access to more robust cataloguing records, title change history tracking, convenient search results browsing, and much more.
See also catalogue.
The term format refers both to a type of technology used to access information and to a publication type. The main formats, or technologies of access, available at UNB Libraries are print, electronic, DVD, VHS, CD, and microform.
UNB WorldCat understands formats as types of publications, such as printed books, e-books, printed journal articles, e-journal articles, microforms, e-Music, e-Videos, printed and electronic theses and dissertations, conference proceedings, and many more. When searching in UNB WorldCat, you can adjust your search results to include or exclude specific formats (or types of publications) by using the limiters on the left of the results screen.
See also edition, e-book, limiters, and publication type.
The term full-text refers to a document, usually a journal article, that is accessible online in its entirety as opposed to just the abstract. A search result in which there is a direct link to the “html full-text” or “pdf full-text” gives you access to the complete document. All of UNB Libraries’ databases are linked together so that when you click on the “Check for full-text” link in a given database, you are checking to see whether UNB Libraries has access to the full-text of the particular item available either electronically or in print. If an item is indexed in an electronic database or UNB WorldCat but the full-text is unavailable, use the document delivery system.
See also abstract, proxy login, indexing/abstracting database.
fuzzy searching
Fuzzy searching is a helpful tool in online research that lets you find approximate matches to the search you enter. Especially useful in fuzzy searching are the asterisk * for wildcards and the tilde or “wavy mark” ~ for synonyms. For more information on effective searching, see the UNB Libraries’ Library Help Videos and the Guide to Research Success.
See also search strategies and controlled vocabulary.


government document
Governments and intergovernmental organizations, such as the United Nations, the Canadian federal government, or the World Health Organization, are avid producers of government documents. All levels of government produce documents, which include reports, statistical publications, handbooks and manuals, budgets, maps and atlases, and pamphlets. Government documents span a wide range of topics, covering social issues, policy and legislation, as well as research and technical subject matters. For more information, contact the UNB Libraries’ Government Documents, Data and Maps/GIS services.
See also call number, Dewey Decimal Classification, and Library of Congress Classification (LCC), and grey literature.
How to Read a Government Documents Call Number
grey literature
According to the Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science by Joan M. Reitz, grey literature refers to information that is “not readily available through regular market channels because it was never commercially published/listed or was not widely distributed.” Examples of publications that may be considered grey literature, according to Reitz, include “reports, preprints, internal documents (such as memoranda, newsletters, market surveys), theses and dissertations, conference proceedings, technical specifications and standards, and trade literature.” For more information, see your subject librarian.
See also dissertations and theses, conference proceedings, and government documents.


An index is an alphabetical list of names, subjects, or other variables with page references to the places where they occur in the main body of the text. An index is typically found at the end of a book or in the last volume of a series. Browsing the indexes of your sources is an effective search strategy for locating information relevant to your research topic.
See also search strategies.
indexing/abstracting database
Not all databases provide access to the full-text of articles or book chapters that are listed. Some databases provide full bibliographical details about an item (the citation) and a brief description of the contents (an abstract); such databases are called indexing and abstracting databases. Some databases provide direct access to the full-text of articles, in html and/or pdf format; such databases are called full-text databases.
However, most databases subscribed to by UNB Libraries are a combination of indexing/abstracting and full-text databases in that they index and provide abstracts for all items but only provide access to the full-text for some items. This explains why you may sometimes see a list of search results in which some results have a direct link to the “html full-text” or “pdf full-text” while other results in the same list have a link that says “Check for full-text” with the UNB sail.
If UNB Libraries does not have access to material that you wish to consult, you have the option of submitting a request to borrow the material through document delivery.
See also abstract, database, and full-text.
inter-library loan
See document delivery.


journal (academic)
An academic journal is a serial publication in a given academic field that brings together experts in that field. These experts oversee the selection and editing of the submissions to the journal—a process called peer review. In academic research, scholars build their credibility by publishing in peer-reviewed publications, such as academic journals, where the material has been vetted by one’s professional peers.
For suggestions on the most relevant journals in your area of study, consult the UNB Libraries’ Research Guides or contact your subject librarian.
See also peer review, database, search strategies, research guide, and subject librarian.
journal article (academic)
An academic journal article is a type of scholarly material that has been vetted and peer-reviewed by experts in a given academic field. In your academic writing, you will most often be expected to substantiate your claims with citations from specific academic sources and journal articles are one type of such academic source. Other types of academic sources include reference materials, monographs, and primary sources.
For suggestions on how to find academic journal articles relevant to your area of study consult the databases listed in UNB Libraries’ Research Guides.
See also journal, citation, peer review, research guide, and search strategies.


A keyword is the most commonly used field in the process of field searching. A keyword search is very broad in scope because it finds matches for the search terms across several fields of a database and thereby generates an overabundance of not-so-relevant results or hits. Though the default search in databases is often “keyword” you can refine your search by utilizing controlled vocabulary and multiple search fields often found in the “advanced search” option. The “advanced search,” available in many databases, provides a greater variety of search fields in addition to limiters that can help you further refine your search.
See also field searching, controlled vocabulary, subject headings, and limiters.


liaison librarian
The role of liaison librarians at UNB Libraries is to build and maintain working relationships with university faculty, to teach workshops on library resources and services, and to provide library reference services to students. Find a liaison librarian responsible for your area of study at UNB Libraries. Most of the librarians at UNB Libraries fulfill a dual role as both liaison librarians and subject librarians. Look for them on every research guide.
See also subject librarian and research guide.
Library of Congress Classification (LCC)
The Library of Congress uses letters to designate large disciplinary groupings and numbers to indicate subordinate parts of these classes. For instance, R represents Medicine and RD118 represents Plastic Surgery. Library of Congress call numbers involve alphabetic, numeric, and character-by-character sequences and are used in conjunction with location codes to find materials at UNB Libraries. The main exceptions are the locations described in conjunction with Dewey Decimal call numbers and Government Documents call numbers.
See also call number, Dewey Decimal Classification, government document, and location code.
How to Read a Library of Congress Call Number
Library of Congress Subject Headings
The Library of Congress Subject Headings make up a system of controlled vocabulary maintained by the United States Library of Congress that is used in the creation of bibliographic records by librarians across North America and beyond. You can search UNB WorldCat to find the LC subject headings relevant for your topic. After running a search, click on any title within your results in order to view the catalogue record for the item. The top right corner will display a “More like this” box with a list of relevant LC subject headings hyperlinked to the catalogue. (The same list appears at the bottom of the record.)
See also controlled vocabulary and Library of Congress Classification (LCC).
A licence is a legal agreement that provides terms of access to copyrighted material. UNB Libraries has licence agreements with book and journal vendors and aggregators. These contracts specify how material can be distributed, and generally restrict use to students, staff, and faculty at UNB.
For more information, go to Copyright @ UNB.
licensed resource
The majority of UNB Libraries’ databases, e-books, and e-journals are licensed resources. Individual licences specify how materials can be distributed, and generally restrict use to students, staff, and faculty at UNB.
For more information, go to Copyright @ UNB.
See also proxy login, copyright, and open access.
When searching UNB WorldCat or UNB Libraries’ electronic databases, users can refine their search results by adjusting their search settings and choosing from available options. In UNB WorldCat, for instance, you can refine your search by format, author, year, language, type of content, and topic, all of which appear on the left side of the results screen.
UNB Libraries’ databases often include an extended list of limiters that can greatly enhance the efficacy of your search. These additional limiters can include population group, methodology, historical period, and intended audience.
See also controlled vocabulary and field searching.
literature review
A literature review is an authoritative account of the state of research in a given field. You will encounter the literature review in a monograph, a journal article, or an introductory chapter to an academic work. As part of an introduction to an essay, a thesis, or a report, a literature review is more narrowly focused because an author is evaluating the state of research in a given field only as it relates to his or her specific research questions and research objectives.
See also authority and annotated bibliography.
location code
A location code indicates which UNB library holds a particular physical resource and in which section of the library. Every library call number includes a location code that charts a path to locating physical resources, such as printed books, printed journals, printed newspapers, microforms, government documents, printed maps, printed theses/dissertations, or archival materials. For instructions on how to read the location codes utilized at our libraries, please see the UNB Libraries’ Guide to Catalogue Locations and Call Numbers.
See also call number.
login proxy
See proxy login.


Maps are symbolic representations of land or sea that show their physical features and may include geographical representations of diverse data, such as population rates, pollution, etc.
To learn how to incorporate maps and spatial data into your research see the UNB Libraries’ guide to Government Documents, Data and Maps/GIS.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)
Medical Subject Headings, also known as MeSH headings, make up the controlled vocabulary thesaurus of the United States National Library of Medicine. Utilized by the Medline, PubMed, and several other major medical databases, Medical Subject Headings are an essential toolkit for navigating these databases.
See also controlled vocabulary.
See Medical Subject Headings.
A meta-analysis is a statistical evaluation of the existing research on a particular topic. Studies included in a meta-analysis are typically written by different authors, for different purposes, and apply different methodologies, but share the same basic topic and are ultimately invested in a particular outcome. A meta-analysis involves the mathematical aggregation of the results from these diverse studies, and produces a measure of the size of an effect on the variables of interest.
In addition to the arrived-at statistical outcomes, published meta-analyses include thorough qualitative reviews of the existing literature called systematic reviews or metasyntheses. All meta-analyses include systematic reviews, but systematic reviews do not necessarily include meta-analyses. For more information and detailed examples see the Systematic reviews and meta-analyses: a step-by-step guide from the University of Edinburgh.
See also systematic review.
See systematic review.
According to the Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science by Joan M. Reitz, microform is “a generic term for a highly reduced photographic copy of text and/or images stored on a translucent medium (microfiche or microfilm) or on an opaque medium such as card stock (microopaque or aperture card).” Microform is an older technology that has met the needs of storage, accessibility, and preservation—that is, vast amounts of material can be stored in microform that take up relatively little physical space; as well, rare and fragile material not only can be made accessible to a wider audience, but can also be preserved for future consultation.
UNB Libraries carries publications in microfiche, microfilm, microcard, and microprint and provides readers for all four formats. Plus, UNB Libraries has made the older technology of microforms compatible with newer technologies so that you can print a copy of documents and/or save a digital copy on a usb key.
You can search for publications in microform on UNB WorldCat by selecting microform from a list of format limiters on the results screen. For information on how to search newspapers on microfilm, see the UNB Libraries’ Newspaper Guide.
See also format and periodical.
mobile app
Mobile applications are types of software designed to function with mobile devices, such as tablets and smartphones, and can be downloaded onto your mobile device via common software platforms, such as Android, iOS, and BlackBerry. When used as academic research tools, mobile apps can assist you in your scholarly writing and research. For instance, mobile apps can facilitate reading eBooks or other electronic texts on your mobile device, capturing online materials at your convenience, storing and annotating documents, sorting your citations and resources, managing and sorting your tasks or projects, and much more.
See the UNB Libraries’ Mobile Resources for Academics for more information.
mobile devices (access)
Many electronic resources licensed by UNB Libraries now provide mobile friendly versions of their sites as well as mobile applications. Mobile access to resources at UNB Libraries varies depending on the resource.
  • Some mobile sites can be accessed using a mobile url.
  • Some mobile sites detect your device and automatically and provide the mobile version.
  • Mobile pairing is yet another mode of access to some of the electronic resources at UNB Libraries. Mobile pairing allows you to “pair” your web browsing devices, such as smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops, with UNB's network, allowing you to access licensed resources when you are not connected to UNB's network.
  • Mobile applications associated with UNB databases may require you to create an account from UNB premises, while on an IP authenticated computer, in order to verify your UNB credentials. Certain apps may require you to renew your IP authentication every 30 days and you must be on campus to do so.
A monograph refers to a book on a specific topic by an academic author. Unlike periodicals, monographs are “one-time events”—that is, a monograph is a publication that consists of one volume or a specified number of volumes. In the humanities, monographs remain an important means for scholars to establish their credibility and to build their professional careers. In the sciences and social sciences, however, where the most recent and up-to-date information takes precedence, journal articles are the preferred means of building one’s publication record and academic authority.
See also journal, journal article, and authority.



open access
Open access is a publishing model that makes scholarly literature in electronic form freely available to the end user, with few copyright and licensing restrictions. The term is generally understood to denote not only the publishing model but the content itself. For more information, see Open Access @ UNB Libraries.
See also licensed resource, proxy login, and copyright.


peer review
Peer review is a process of pre-approval or review by one’s professional peers. Essential to the peer review process are referees. These are existing experts in a given field called upon to evaluate potential publications or conference proposals. Referees assess the quality of the writing and research and may suggest changes to the original work before it is deemed fit for publication or presentation. Hence, peer review is an essential part of assessing whether one’s sources of information are authoritative—that is reliable, credible, objective, or trustworthy. Many databases, including UNB WorldCat, offer the option to limit your search to peer-reviewed materials only.
See also authority, conference, and secondary source.
A periodical is an ongoing serial publication issued at regular intervals throughout the year, usually indicated by the volume and issue number on the front cover. Examples of periodicals include magazines, journals, newspapers, and newsletters.
See also journal and monograph.
phrase searching
Phrase searching is a type of search that allows users to search for an entire phrase, enclosed in double quotation marks, rather than individual words. Phrase searching is one of many ways to increase the precision and relevance of retrieved information.
See also field searching, truncation, wildcard, Boolean operator, and search strategies.
In academic writing, if you copy or paraphrase another person’s words, or adopt their ideas or data, without giving credit by citing the source, you are plagiarizing. Universities do not take plagiarism lightly. Therefore, the best approach is avoidance. To learn more, go to UNB Libraries' Guide to Citation and Plagiarism.
See also citation and citation styles.
primary source
According to Joan M. Reitz’s Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science, a primary source is “a document or record containing firsthand information or original data on a topic, used in preparing a derivative work. Primary sources include original manuscripts, periodical articles reporting original research or thought, diaries, memoirs, letters, journals, photographs, drawings, posters, film footage, sheet music, songs, interviews, government documents, public records, eyewitness accounts, newspaper clippings, etc.” For examples of historical primary source resources available at UNB Libraries, see the “Primary Sources” tab in our Guide to History.
Moreover, primary sources can be found in UNB WorldCat by combining a search for your topic with a search for the subject, “sources.” If you know the types of primary source materials you are looking for, your entry in the subject field may include “correspondences,” “anecdotes,” “diaries,” “manuscripts,” “narratives,” “speeches,” etc. For instance, if you are looking for primary material about Victorian England, you would use the Advanced Search screen to search for the word or phrase “Victorian England” and the subject “sources.”
Compare with secondary source, tertiary source, source, and reference source. See also publication type.
proxy login
A proxy login enables registered UNB and STU students, staff, and faculty to access UNB Libraries’ licensed electronic resources when off campus. The following is the necessary proxy prefix for off-campus access:
For more information, please visit the UNB Libraries’ instructions for Off-campus Proxy Access.
See also licensed resource.
publication bias
Publication bias refers to the practice of excluding negative research results from publication of scientific research. Also called file-drawer effect, this phenomenon refers to the preference in academia for publishing only statistically-significant results and keeping private studies that may be well-designed but do not support the hypothesis.
Publication bias distorts the validity of meta-analyses and systematic reviews which are meant to provide a synthesis of all available research on a given question or issue. For instance, in the field of medical research, publication bias may lead to overestimating the effectiveness of a given drug, such as antidepressants.
publication type
The term publication type most often refers to different kinds of publication, such as books (monographs, edited collections, anthologies), journal articles, newspaper articles, musical scores, films, theses and dissertations, conference proceedings, etc. Being able to identify the publication type from a citation can help you determine how to locate and access it. Additionally, understanding the publication type of material you've found useful helps you cite the source properly in notes and bibliographies.
See also, format, citation, peer review, reference (citation), plagiarism.

However, the term publication type can also refer to two other related concepts: the format and the category of publication.
  1. Format refers to the materiality of the item or the technology required to access content, such as print, electronic/digital, DVD, VHS, CD, microform.
  2. Category of publication concerns the publication process and the kind of source. Different categories of publication involve different processes, protocols, and modes of distribution. Consider the important differences in the processes of publication and distribution amongst academic/scholarly peer-reviewed publications, non-peer-reviewed publications, grey literature, trade publications, self-publications, and even works that are "unpublished" or distributed in non-traditional ways (e.g. blogs, wikis, websites). Here you should also consider the differences amongst primary sources, secondary sources, and tertiary sources.
The complexity of the term publication type can be appreciated by a few examples. A peer-reviewed journal article may be available electronically via a licensed database. You might, however, encounter a 19th-century, printed newspaper (primary source) that was microfilmed and then digitized. A tertiary source/reference material might be either a book or an article, and it might be available in print and/or electronically.
See also trade journal, grey literature, primary source, secondary source, tertiary source, source, and authority.
A publisher is a person or company that undertakes the preparation, sale and/or distribution of a text submitted for print or electronic publication. Publishers and authors often sign licence agreements that outline the author’s compensation in exchange for the publisher’s exclusive rights to the published content. In printed sources, the publisher’s name usually appears at the bottom of the title page or on the opening pages. In an electronic catalogue record or a database results page, the name of the publisher can be found in the publisher field of the bibliographic description.
See also licence, authority, and peer review.


reference (citation)
The term reference is often used synonymously with citation. When your instructor tells you to find references for your assignment, he or she is telling you to substantiate your claims with citations to specific academic sources.
Compare with reference material/source and see also citation.
reference (source/material)
Reference materials or sources provide quick access to factual, overview, or background information when you are beginning a new area of study. Examples of reference sources include encyclopedias, dictionaries, and handbooks. An academic encyclopedia article may provide an especially useful starting point, since it will not only give a concise overview of your topic and provide a broader context, but it will also likely provide a bibliography of key information sources. In addition, reference sources can provide you with the necessary search terms or the controlled vocabulary used across databases to index information relevant to your topic.
At UNB Libraries, references sources are available both in print and electronic format. Print reference sources are designated by the location codes starting with HIL-REF, ENG-REF, LAW-REF, SCI-REF, or HWK-REF. Electronic reference material is available under the yellow e-Encyclopedias tab on the library’s home page.
For instructions on how to read the location codes utilized at our libraries, please see the UNB Libraries’ Guide to Catalogue Locations and Call Numbers.
See also controlled vocabulary, location codes, and publication type. Compare with reference (citation).
A report is an official or unofficial account of research findings or events. Institutions that produce reports include governments, agencies, and corporations. For example, in the field of Business Administration, industry reports are important professional tools. You can find resources for locating and analysing industry reports in the UNB Libraries’ Guide to Company & Industry Information.
See also government documents and grey literature.
research question
A well-formulated research question is an essential step towards effective research and writing. At an undergraduate academic level, the best research questions are focused, relevant, and manageable. In the process of formulating a research question, you will have to consider the existing scholarship that informs your area of study, your audience, and the length of time you have to complete your project. A productive research question will reflect your interest in a specific aspect of a topic, will take into consideration what other scholars have written on this topic, and will be manageable enough to complete within the parameters of an assignment or a course.
The steps to developing a research question that involve library materials follow a path from general resources, such as textbooks, encyclopedias, and handbooks, to more specific sources, such as books, journal articles, and conference proceedings on your chosen topic. Take the time to identify the key search terms, or controlled vocabulary, used by catalogues and databases to index materials about your topic. Check the research guides for lists of useful academic resources in your area of study and talk to a subject librarian. Discuss your ideas with your instructors, consult writing and research handbooks, and make use of the Guide to Research Success offered by UNB Libraries.
See also subject librarian, research guide, search strategies, controlled vocabulary, and authority.
You can find help with your written assignments at your university’s writing services:
UNB Fredericton Writing & Study Skills Centre
UNB Saint John Writing & Study Skills Centre
STU Writing Centre
research guide
Authored by the UNB Libraries’ subject specialists, the research guides provide a wealth of research resources tailored to a given field of study. From reference tools, book suggestions, article databases to free internet resources, the research guides are a great place to begin and further your research into an array of academic disciplines. Research guides also provide you with contact information for your liaison librarian and other staff, who can help you with your research. For a comprehensive list of the guides, go to UNB Libraries’ Research Guides.
See also subject librarians and search strategies.
reserves (course reserves)
Instructors can place materials on reserve to make them easily accessible for their students. All students can access their course reserves lists online by selecting the “Reserves” tab, above the main search box, on the Libraries’ home page. UNB students can select “Login to My UNB Reserves” in order to view reserve materials for all of their courses and to access any course-specific, licensed content.
A review is both an account and an evaluation of a literary, artistic, or scholarly work. When searching in UNB Libraries’ electronic databases, you can often limit your results to display reviews by selecting reviews under the “Document Type” limiter. Go to the UNB Libraries’ Guide to Book Reviews for more tips.
See also limiters.
rss feed
An RSS feed stands for “real simple syndication” and can be described as a news feed that you subscribe to in order to receive real-time updates. An RSS feed lets you know whenever a given website makes an update so that you don’t have to keep checking. You can choose the feeds you would like to subscribe to and read them, much like e-mails, on your RSS feed reader (freely available from Feedspot, Bloglines, and many other sources).
In the context of academic research, RSS feeds can be very useful because they enable you to receive updates from within your currently used databases, in your preferred areas of study, keeping you abreast of the most current literature in your field. To learn more, see Managing Your Research.


See peer review.
search strategies
Once you have formulated a research question, you are ready to embark on a search for scholarly materials that address this question. However, when utilising UNB WorldCat or UNB Libraries’ licensed electronic databases, you can quickly become overwhelmed with the sheer quantity of available information. In order to increase the precision and relevance of your search results, there are a number of search strategies that can help you build more effective searches.
These search strategies are embedded in this glossary under the following headings: field searching, controlled vocabulary, subject headings, Boolean operators, truncation, limiters, synonyms, and wildcards.
search syntax
See phrase searching, Boolean operators, truncation, wildcards, and search strategies.
search terms
See controlled vocabulary and search strategies.
secondary source
In distinction from primary sources, secondary sources are documents that analyse events or the available primary sources. Secondary sources are usually removed from the time of the original event, and they interpret or discuss the original event or data. Examples of secondary sources are books and journal articles.
The APA Manual (6.1.7) has a particular meaning of secondary source that describes indirect or second-hand quotation; it is an instance where the original source is unavailable, but is cited in another source, which is the secondary source.
Compare with primary source, tertiary source, source, and reference source. See also publication type.
  • Some material located in the Forestry Files Collection.
    (Location: SCI-FORF)
  • Approximately 10,000 Government Documents brief catalogue records.
    (Locations: HIL-GOV and HIL-STORG)
  • Science and Engineering undergraduate reports, e.g. Engineering Senior Reports.
    (Locations: ENG-SENRPT and SCI-THS)
SOULS database
Search Other Uncatalogued Library Stuff (SOULS) is a database which contains records for items which were not migrated from UNB Libraries’ former catalogue, Quest, to UNB Libraries’ current catalogue, UNB WorldCat. The SOULS database provides access to the following material that is not in UNB WorldCat at this time:
Many of the items found using SOULS are available at the library in question; however, accessing some will require the completion of a Material Retrieval Form.
In databases, source can be used to describe a journal title.
More generally, however, the term source refers to the "origin of ideas," or the identifiable place(s) where you located the idea(s) that you incorporate into and analyze within your own critical discussion. Bear in mind that there are different kinds of sources, such as published sources and unpublished sources, primary, secondary, and tertiary sources, informal and formal sources, all of which can have varying degrees of reliability or authority. You are expected not only to acknowledge all of the sources of information that you consulted in your research process, but also to think critically about your sources (or lack of sources) in determining the weight and nature of the conclusions that you can make in your analysis.
See reference (citation), plagiarism, and publication type, primary source, secondary source, tertiary source.
Unlike “raw” data, statistics are data that has been analyzed, interpreted, and evaluated, and hence, can readily inform scholarly research. For more information on statistics and their uses, see the UNB Libraries' guide to Government Documents, Data and Maps/GIS.
See also data.
subject heading (or descriptor)
A subject heading is a word or a phrase that you select from a list of controlled vocabulary (the preferred language used by a database or a catalogue) in order to retrieve more precise search results.
See also controlled vocabulary, search strategies, Medical Subject Headings, and Library of Congress Subject Headings.
subject librarian
Subject librarians at UNB Libraries are responsible for the collection development and library instruction in their respective subject areas. They also provide reference services to the students and faculty at UNB and STU. Find their names and contact information on every research guide or in this directory.
See also research guides and liaison librarians.
A synonym is a word or phrase similar to, or meaning almost the same thing as, a given word or phrase. In the process of building a library search, synonyms are your best friends that will help you generate more accurate search terms and find subject headings best suited for your topic. By tapping into the preferred language used by a database, your searches will quickly become more effective and relevant.
See also subject headings, and controlled vocabulary, search strategies.
systematic review
A systematic review is a comprehensive, qualitative review of the existing literature on a particular topic. Also called metasyntheses, systematic reviews typically aggregate the research and findings available on a particular topic in order to make recommendations on future research practices.
Compare to meta-analysis.


tertiary source
Compare with primary source, secondary source, and source. See also reference material/source and publication type.
theses and dissertations
See dissertations and theses.
trade journal
A trade journal is a professional publication aimed at an audience in a specific business, trade, industry, or craft. Although trade journals are not peer-reviewed publications, and are hence considered non-academic, they remain useful resources for some types of academic research.
See also peer-review.
trouble ticket
UNB Libraries ask UNB and STU students, faculty, and staff to “submit a trouble ticket” to report any issues that arise when using electronic resources. The service is designed for technical support issues only.
Truncation is a search strategy to find variant endings of a root word. In some databases, the asterisk * can replace an unspecified number of characters (except the first character) and can be used to find variant endings of a common root word. For instance, the search term “child*” will find child, child’s, children, children’s, and childhood.
See also search strategies and compare with wildcard.


The abbreviation url stands for the phrase uniform resource locator or web address. A url is a sequence of characters referring to a resource on the web. You can find the url inside the address bar of a web page. Some citation styles require the inclusion of the url or the doi as part of their citation guidelines. Check the appropriate citation style guide.
See also doi, citation, and citation styles.
UNB WorldCat
UNB WorldCat is the main catalogue for UNB Libraries. It is a massive library catalogue that contains over 290 million bibliographic records from libraries worldwide, including e-journals and e-books, along with selected journal articles. UNB WorldCat searches all these libraries' records, but provides a view which ranks UNB Libraries' material first.
Some materials held at UNB Libraries are not searchable through UNB WorldCat:
For more information, see the FAQs about UNB WorldCat.
See also catalogue, FirstSearch, SOULS, reserves.



A wildcard is a searching option available in some databases that allows you to search for terms that may have variant spellings. A symbol, such as a question mark ? may be used to replace one character or no character to find terms; for instance, the search term “wom?n” will find women and woman, or the search term “colo?r” may find colour and color. Different databases use different symbols for wildcard characters, including ?, #, $, and *. Most databases offer a “Help” section to inform users of the wildcard characters that can be used in that particular database.
See also search strategies and compare with truncation.


Zotero is a free, open-source software that collects, manages, and cites research sources. It is easy to use and works with your web browser where you do your work. With one click, Zotero will save web pages, books, PDFs, abstracts, and almost anything else with all its citation information. Zotero also allows you to attach PDFs, notes and images to your citations, organize them into collections for different projects, and create bibliographies.
See also the UNB Libraries Guide to Zotero.