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Glossary of Research Terms

Abstracts:  These are tools to help you find periodical (journal, magazine, or newspaper) articles and other sources of information. They also provide brief summaries of articles. Most abstracts have a specific focus, such as Psychological Abstracts or Biological Abstracts.  Abstracts can be in a print format, an electronic format, or both.  Now, many abstracts are in electronic format and are often referred to as library subscription databases.  The word abstract also refers to a summary of an article or book.

Bibliography:  A list of sources, such as books, articles, and Web sites.  This can be a list of sources used or referred to when writing a research paper, or a list of sources compiled on a specific topic.

Citation: Citations list pieces of information that describe a periodical article or other information source. For example, an article citation typically includes the name of the author(s), title of the article, name of the magazine, journal, or information source, volume #, issue #, date and page numbers.  Citations are used in bibliographies and footnotes, such as in research papers or journal articles.

Indexes:  These are tools that help you find periodical (journal, magazine, or newspaper) articles and other sources of information.  Indexes can have a specific focus, such as Art Index, or be more general in nature such as Academic Search Premier. Indexes can be in a print format, an electronic format, or both.  Now, many indexes are in electronic format and are often referred to as library subscription databases.

Monograph:  A scholarly book, book-length essay, or pamphlet on a specific subject.  The word book is often used interchangeably with monograph, but books are just one type of monograph.

Periodicals:  A term commonly used to refer to journals, magazines, or newspapers. Periodicals are issued on a regular basis and can also be referred to as "serials."

Primary Source:  A term used to refer to original documents, research, or physical objects.  These can include such material as: diaries, speeches, letters, records of information, newspaper & magazine articles, research articles, photographs, audio files. 
 

What is the difference between journals, magazines, newspapers?

Journals:
Sometimes referred to as professional journals, refereed journals, scholarly journals, or peer reviewed journals, these tend to be more scholarly in nature. Journals report on research and other scholarly inquiry conducted by professionals in a particular field such as economics, literature, library science, and other areas corresponding to programs of study in universities and colleges. Scholarly journal articles are usually the more appropriate resource for writing papers for classes.
 
Magazines: Magazines tend to be geared toward the general public. Time, Rolling Stone, and Sports Illustrated are good examples of magazines. Magazine articles are useful for getting introductory background on a topic, current events, and hobby related activities.
 
Newspapers: Most newspapers are published daily and are terrific sources for current events, and for finding events that happened on specific days in the past. Some prestigious newspapers, such as the New York Times,  have material that would be appropriate for class papers and assignments.

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updated 3/8/10, Claudia Ruediger