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LASI 170 Introduction to Library Research

Abstract a summary of an article, book, chapter, or other publication.
Author search: to search by a particular author's name in an electronic catalog or index. Some indexes require last name first for an author search (i.e. Paul, Angela).
Bibliography: a list of books, articles, or other published writings on a particular subject. Bibliographies may be separate publications or may be found as a list of references at the end of books, chapters, articles, etc.
Boolean operators a system of standardized words used to connect search terms. These include AND, OR, and NOT. AND requires all terms appear in a record. OR retrieves records with either term. NOT excludes terms. See examples at right.
Bound periodicals: several issues of a periodical gathered together into a single book with a hard cover.
Browse: to look leisurely through a library collection, book, journal, or other publication for items of interest. The opposite of browsing is searching, as in a keyword search or author search.
Call number: a group of letters and numbers that is assigned to a particular book or periodical in the library and usually placed on the spine of the book or periodical. Books and periodicals are arranged on the shelves in call number order. Wichita State University Libraries uses the Library of Congress Classification system.
Charge out/check out: to borrow library materials for use outside of the library. A Shocker Card is required to borrow library materials from University Libraries. Books you have checked out or borrowed from the library are sometimes said to be "charged" or "charged out."
Chemistry Library: See "McKinley Chemistry Library"
Circulation Desk: the customer service counter in the library where library items are checked out or charged out.
Citation: information needed to find the full text of a publication. Citations are provided in bibliographies, databases, and the lists of references in scholarly works. A book citation generally includes the author(s), title, publisher, and date. A citation of a periodical article generally includes author(s), article title, source journal title, volume, pages and date.
Database: an electronic resource used to help someone find information; also called an index.
Field searching:  searching a database within a specific data field or location (e.g., title, author, URL, article text).
Keyword searching: a word or phrase searched for in a search command. Keywords are searched in any order. Use spaces to separate keywords in simple keyword searching. Certain punctuation and Boolean operators can create a more complex keyword search.
LCC: Library of Congress Classification or LCC. It divides the collection into 21 major divisions and is based on letters of the alphabet. See for more information.
McKinley Chemistry Library: located on the first floor of McKinley Hall. This library houses chemistry course reserve materials as well as a collection of core chemistry journals and reference materials. See McKinley Chemistry Library for more information.
Music Library: See "Thurlow Lieurance Memorial Music Library"
Nesting: a term used in Boolean searching to indicate the sequence in which operations are to be performed. Enclosing words in parentheses identifies a group or "nest." The operations are performed from the innermost nest to the outmost, and then from left to right.
PDF: also written .pdf or pdf; an abbreviation for Portable Document Format. A PDF document maintains the original formatting and page numbers of the original. Viewing a PDF file requires Acrobat Reader, which is built into most browsers and can be downloaded free from Adobe.
Peer reviewed journal: articles published in this type of journal have gone through a process of obtaining impartial opinions from individuals who participate in research in the same field or vocation to ascertain whether the articles are of a suitable standard before publication.
Periodical: a publication that is issued on a regular basis (i.e. a journal, magazine, and newspaper).
Phrase: enclosing words in "double quotation marks" forms a phrase in most search engines. Sometimes a phrase is called a "character string" or "search string.
Primary source: first-hand accounts that are directly related to a topic. Diary entries, recordings, manuscripts, documents, newspaper articles, and photographs are some examples of primary sources. 
Reference Desk: the place in a library where a librarian is available to answer questions.
Reference Librarian: a person who helps clients locate information, choose the best resources for a particular question, and use those resources. Locate a Reference Librarian at any library at Wichita State University, as well as through chat, email, and phone.
Relevancy ranking of Search results: search results listed in the order determined to be most relevant by the database. Each search tool uses its own algorithm. Common factors include whether search terms occur together as a phrase, and whether they are in the title or are near the top of the text. Popularity is another ranking system.
Require/reject symbols: in non-Boolean systems such as Google, +REQUIRE/-REJECT symbols (plus and minus signs) are sometimes acceptable. The symbols should appear immediately before the word and should be preceded with a space. For example, in Google, anti-virus -software will search for the words "anti-virus" but exclude references to software. (The hyphen has no space in front of it, so will not be misinterpreted.) See Google Help for more Google search tips.
Search engine: programs that locate and present data, typically associated with a sizable database. All library databases provide a search engine to help clients locate articles or other information. Examples of open web search engines can be found at
Secondary source: materials that provide analysis or interpretations of primary sources. Typically, the creator of a secondary source does not have first-hand experience with the topic's events or conditions. Scholarly journal articles are examples of a secondary source.
Source: a work that supplies information or evidence of a fact or event. Often used synonymously with "resource."
Stemming: some search engines automatically stem words, which automatically removes word endings in the search, as well as includes common word endings. For example, line or lines retrieves line, lines, line's, lines', lining, and lined.
Stop words: small and frequently occurring words (i.e. and, in, of, the, and that) are often ignored when used as search terms. Sometimes putting them in quotes " " will allow you to search them.
Tertiary source:  provide overviews by compiling, indexing, or organizing primary and secondary sources. Dictionaries, encyclopedias, fact books, and guidebooks are often considered to be tertiary sources. Tertiary sources are helpful for finding primary and secondary sources. 
Thurlow Lieurance Memorial Music Library: houses the Wichita State University Libraries' music collection and supports the research, curricular, and programmatic needs of the faculty and students in the College of Music. Part of the collection is housed at Ablah Library. See Thurlow Lieurance Memorial Music Library for more information.
Truncation: a symbol such as an * asterisk or ? question mark used in a search to allow the search engine to search for multiple endings from the occurrence of the symbol forward (i.e. feminin* retrieves feminine, feminineness, femininism, femininity, feminism, etc.).
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