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*Glossary A-Z: Academic & Library Terms

A word (or two), from us to you.

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A Glossary of Terms

Here is a list of terms you may encounter on your academic journey at SUSS. We hope this glossary helps you better understand some of the academic and library terminology.

You may also use the search function on the top of this guide to search for terms.

Should you have any other queries, or would like to see more terms included, feel free to check out our FAQ, or email in to Ask The Library.

A - B

A

  • Abstract:
    A short description of the content in a book or research paper. It provides a preview as to what the paper (journal/article) might be about.
     
  • Altmetrics (also see: h-index; impact factor):
    Altmetrics are a form of metrics used to track how often a piece of work is cited, especially on the web. They can include (but are not limited to) peer reviews, citations of Wikipedia and in public policy documents, discussions on research blogs, mainstream media coverage, and mentions/citations on social media networks (e.g. Facebook, Twitter).
     
  • Alma mater:
    Latin for "nourishing mother", alma mater refers to the school or college you previously attended or graduated from.
     
  • Alumni:
    This refers to anybody who has graduated from their alma mater (former school). Alumni refers to a mixed-gender group of graduates; alumnus refers to a single male graduate; alumnae refers to a group of female graduates; alumna refers to a single female graduate.
     
  • Annotated bibliography:
    This is a list of resources you used, with a short summary or description of the content of each resource. Annotated bibliographies generally explained who wrote the resource, what it’s about, how it was useful (or not) to you, and how it was used in your research.
     
  • APA:
    APA stands for American Psychological Association. This refers to a style of referencing or citing the academic works you use when writing an academic paper. You may hear your fellow classmates or faculty say they want an ‘APA style format’ so you will need to follow these guidelines when writing your paper. Here is more information on the APA style.
     
  • Audit:
    In academia, this refers to taking a class without receiving credit (i.e. sitting in to observe and learn).

B

  • BrowZine:
    Take a look at our BrowZine library guide here.
     
  • Bibliography (see: annotated bibliography; references; works cited)
    A bibliography is a list of all the sources you have used in the process of researching your work, whether it was cited/referenced or not. A bibliography differs from “References” or “Works Cited” in that the latter two comprises only resources actually cited and mentioned in the paper.
     
  • Blockquotes:
    Generally, if you’re referencing a long quote (i.e. more than 3 lines), you should place it in block quotes. Blockquotes start on a new line, is a paragraph on its own, and should be indented altogether, like so. You can learn how to blockquote, and format your blockquotes in this YouTube video.


 

  • Boolean Search Operators:
    A Boolean Search uses a combination of keywords and the three basic Boolean operators (e.g. AND, OR, and NOT) to refine your search. For example, searching “A AND B” would yield results containing the two keywords; “A OR B” would result in one or the other; “A NOT B” would result in searches pertaining to A that do not contain B.

    You could also use parentheses to further narrow your search. For example, “A AND (B OR C)”.

    Including the use of asterisks would yield results of the different forms of the word with multiple characters (e.g. “cultur*” would yield “culture”, “cultural”, “culturally”; “intelligen* would yield “intelligent”, “intelligence”).

    Including a question mark would yield results of a single character change (e.g. “wom?n” would yield “woman”, “women”.

C - D

C

  • Call number:
    This refers to the series of alphabets or numbers attached to each book to tell you what the book is about, and where to find it. Academic libraries operate on the Library of Congress (LC) classification systems; public libraries run on the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) (full list of DDCs here).

  • Catalogue:
    This is a register of all bibliographic records in the library – which is to say, a catalogue contains all of the library’s collections and holdings of books, ebooks, journals, articles, etc.

  • Citations (see: references; annotation/annotated bibliography; plagiarism, works cited; Zotero):
    Citations contain references to the sources used and referred to, and how others might access these sources. This includes the author(s) name(s), title of the source, year and place of publication, and even the date accessed (for online sources). Different citation styles would require different citation formats (e.g. APA, MLA, Chicago; AWLD or OSCOLA if you’re in Law).

    Failure to cite your sources is plagiarism, and plagiarism is a serious academic offense. You can avoid plagiarism by citing your sources.

D

  • Database:
    Databases are a collection of information that is commonly used for research and writing, including access to academic journals. Click here to access our list of available databases.

  • Database Trials:
    Database trials allows the SUSS faculty access to subscription databases to review their content, functionality, and overall use before they are acquired.

  • Demand-Driven Acquisition (see: Patron-Driven Acquisition; Evidence-Based Acquisition)
    The Demand-Driven Acquisition (DDA) model, otherwise known as Patron-Driven Acquisition, allows libraries access to a large set of titles and resources, and the library only pays for the resources that have been utilised beyond a certain usage threshold.

    This differs from the Evidence-Based Acquisition (EBA), which grants libraries unlimited access to the resources of a database or collection over a limited period of time for an upfront fee. EBAs allow us to try out their resources, following which we will receive a usage statistics report. Based on this report, we can then decide to purchase titles based on how frequently resources were utilised. The upfront fee paid (which is lower than purchasing the full collection) goes towards the purchase cost. To learn more about the EBA, click here.

  • Dissertation (see: thesis):
    This refers to the final paper written at the end of your university career (either as an undergraduate, graduate, or post-graduate student). A thesis is usually for a Bachelors' or Masters' degree, and a dissertation is generally considered to be longer (for PhD degrees), but the terms are used almost interchangeably.

  • DOI:
    The Digital Object Identifier (DOI) is used to identify an article or document on the web. A DOI serves as a unique identifier for you to locate a certain article or document. You can also add https://doi.org/ in front of a DOI to form a hyperlink (e.g. a DOI might look like: 10.11622/smedj.2018044; and its hyperlink would be https://doi.org/10.11622/smedj.2018044).

  • Double-spacing:
    Double-spacing is generally used for academic writing (unless your professor requests otherwise). You can double-space your essays on Word doc by right-clicking, selecting “paragraph”, and under “line spacing”, selecting “double”.

E - F

E

  • EndNote (see; citations; Zotero):
    EndNote is a reference management software that manages bibliographies and references when writing articles and essays. It can also help with organising and generating your references, and inserting in-text citations.

  • Evidence-based Acquisitions (see: Demand-Driven Acquisition; Patron-Driven Acquisition)
    Evidence-based Acquisitions (EBA) grants libraries unlimited access to the resources of a database or collection over a limited period of time for an upfront fee. This allows us to try out their resources, following which we will receive a usage statistics report. Based on this report, we can then decide to purchase titles based on how frequently resources were utilised. The upfront fee paid (which is lower than purchasing the full collection) goes towards the purchase cost. To learn more about the EBA, click here.

    This differs from the Demand-Driven Acquisition (DDA) model, otherwise known as Patron-Driven Acquisition, allows libraries access to a large set of titles and resources, and the library only pays for the resources that have been utilised beyond a certain usage threshold.

F

  • Fact-checking:
    This is the process to make sure the information listed is accurate, true, and relevant (i.e. up-to-date). The CRAAP test is a good way to check the veracity and reliability of a source: its Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose should be evaluated. Learn more about the CRAAP test here.

G - H

G

  • Google Scholar:
    Google Scholar is a search engine for academic materials (e.g. journals, articles); it is not a database. As it is a search engine and not a database, it may yield articles that are not peer-reviewed or credible, so we would recommend using this with caution, or just searching directly from SUSS Library or our databases and journals instead.

H

  • h-index (see: Altmetrics, impact factor)
    Very briefly, the h-index measures a researcher’s citation count, and the impact of their overall body of research. This prevents a skewed representation of a researcher’s body of work (e.g. an old article cited numerous times might no longer be as significant if a researcher’s newer work was not cited as much). You can learn more about the h-index here.

I - J

I

  • Impact factor:
    Impact factor measures the frequency with which the average article in a journal has been cited in a particular year.

  • Interlibrary Loan (ILL):
    Borrowing books/resources from other libraries. (This service is only available to graduate students in SUSS.)

  • ISBN number:
    The International Standard Book Number is a unique string of 10 or 13-digit numbers, assigned specifically to each publication. This helps us identify the specific book edition or publication, even after a title has been reprinted. Learn more about the ISBN here.

  • ISSN number:
    The International Standard Serial Number is a unique string of 8-digit serial number, used to identify a serial publication (e.g. magazine, journals, newspapers). This is particularly helpful, especially if a periodical or serial has the same title. Learn more about ISSN here.

J

  • Journals (see:  BrowZine, periodicals):
    Click here to search our list of available journals. You can also access journals through BrowZine (view the BrowZine guide here.)

K - L

K

  • Keywords:
    This refers to the significant word or terms used in either your search for resources, and/or interpreting your assignment questions.

L

  • Libkey.io (see: DOI, PMID):
    Libkey.io is a website that allows you to find articles by their DOI or PMID. (We recommend you install the Chrome extension of libkey.io, which would allow you access to articles you may encounter while surfing the Internet.)

  • Library Guides:
    These are guides prepared by the library to help you with certain topics. You can view our library guides here (or email us if you have any questions).

  • Library of Congress Classification (LCC) (also see: call numbers):
    The Library of Congress Classification (LCC) was developed by the Library of Congress in the United States. It is commonly used in the United States and in academic libraries. An LCC call number might look like: HM586 Mac 2012. (e.g. Class H refers to the social sciences; HM refers to sociology; the numbers refer to the sub-section in sociology; the letters refers to the author's last name, followed by the year it was published.)

  • Literature Review:
    A literature review is a comprehensive summary of existing research out in the field about your particular topic. This may include research that has already been done and gaps in the existing literature to help you situate the context and content of your research. Learn more about writing a literature review here.

M - N

M

  • Methodology:
    This refers to the method of your research, or techniques you used to conduct your research. Your methodology should include the type of research you did, how you collected your data, how you analyzed your data, any tools or materials used in your research, and your rationale for choosing these methods. Learn more about writing your methodology here.

  • MLA:
    Modern Language Association (MLA) citation style is commonly used for the Humanities; specifically, Literary Studies and Linguistics. Find out more about the MLA citation style here.

N

  • Newslink:
    Newslink is a newspaper database that offers archived news articles, photographs, infographics and PDF copies of the newspapers from 18 unique newspapers published by Singapore Press Holdings (SPH). If you would like to search up newspaper articles, please do so directly through Newslink. The link can be found on SUSS Library's Databases A-Z.

O - P

O

  • Open Access (OA):
    This is typically represented by an orange open lock, designed by the Public Library of Science (PLOS). There are various types of Open Access (OA) articles, but mainly:

    • Green refers to self-archiving by the authors in repositories;
    • Gold refers to immediate Open Access, and are fully accessible;
    • Hybrid (Paid Open Access) refers to journals where some articles are made Open Access on payment of a fee.
    • Bronze OA are made Open Access for a limited period of time (e.g. COVID-related resources), and publishers can withdraw access at any time. Therefore, Bronze OA articles are not technically OA.

You can learn more about the different types of OA here.

  • OpenAthens:
    OpenAthens gives you access to journals, articles, and some of the other online resources you may need. Learn how to access articles through your SUSS account on OpenAthens Q&A here.

  • Open Educational Resource (OER)
    Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning, and research materials that are available in the public domain, or licensed in a manner that allows users with free and perpetual access. This might include lesson plans, audio/video lectures, open courseware, journals, articles, textbooks, and more. Learn more about OER from Creative Commons and OpenStax.

P

  • Patron-Driven Acquisition (see: Demand-Driven Acquisition; Evidence-Based Acquisition)
    The Demand-Driven Acquisition (DDA) model, otherwise known as Patron-Driven Acquisition, allows libraries access to a large set of titles and resources, and the library only pays for the resources that have been utilised beyond a certain usage threshold.

    This differs from the Evidence-Based Acquisition (EBA), which grants libraries unlimited access to the resources of a database or collection over a limited period of time for an upfront fee. This allows us to try out their resources, following which we will receive a usage statistics report. Based on this report, we can then decide to purchase titles based on how frequently resources were utilised. The upfront fee paid (which is lower than purchasing the full collection) goes towards the purchase cost. To learn more about the EBA, click here.

  • Peer review (or refereeing):
    A peer-reviewed article has gone through the process of being evaluated and assessed by peers of the author’s field or expertise (e.g. looked at, and evaluated by other experts in a similar or relevant field; they are called reviewers). Peer reviews ensure the paper is credible and of high quality before it is published in a journal.

  • Periodical:
    Periodicals are publications with regular issues, or are published at regular intervals. Newspapers, magazines, journals, are all considered periodicals. Articles published in scholarly periodicals (like a journal) are called periodical articles.

  • PMID:
    PMID (“PubMed IDentifier”) is a PubMed reference number (i.e. a unique identifier), assigned by the National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine to papers and articles.

  • Plagiarism (see: citations, references, Zotero):
    Plagiarism is passing off somebody’s work as your own (in other words, stealing and academic dishonesty). This includes copy-pasting somebody else’s words without crediting, forgetting to place quotation marks around quotations (if it’s not a blockquote), and giving incorrect information about a source. Plagiarism is a serious academic offense. You can avoid plagiarism by paraphrasing, acknowledging the authors, and citing your sources properly.

Q - R

Q

  • Quotations (see: blockquotes; plagiarism):
    Quotations can be added into your essays to substantiate your point. Quotations longer than 3 lines should be placed in blockquotes and indented. Failure to cite your quotes constitutes plagiarism.

R

  • References (see: bibliography; citations; works cited):
    References (and “Works Cited”) refer to the resources actually cited and mentioned in your paper. This differs from a bibliography, which is a list of all the sources you have used in the process of researching your work, whether it was cited/referenced or not.

  • Research Consultation:
    This is a service provided by the library. A librarian will assist you in locating the resources you need to write your research paper. You can contact us at ask@suss.libanswers.com, or view our FAQs.

S - T

S

  • Search (see: Boolean Search Operators):
    A simple (or basic) search allows you to quickly search through broad topics using relevant keywords or phrases, and also yields broad results for you to look through. An advanced search narrows the search down, and allows you to limit it to certain titles, authors/creators, subjects, specific timeframes, or if you’re looking for a specific article or book.

  • Source:
    A primary source refers to the main text where the information has come from; a secondary source makes sense of, and interprets the primary source.

  • Style manual (see: citations):
    Different citation styles would require different citation formats (e.g. APA, MLA, Chicago; AWLD or OSCOLA if you’re in Law). The citation styles would also differ in your in-text citations (i.e. how you cite within your paper).

T

  • Thesis (see: dissertation):

A thesis (or dissertation) generally refers to a long essay submitted for your academic degree.

  • Thesis Statement:

A thesis statement summarises the argument of your paper, or the point you are trying to make (e.g. “This essay will posit…”).

  • Turnitin:

Turnitin is a plagiarism checker that checks your work against the web. This may sometimes result in your quotes, and your references/citations being pulled out as a match. Check with your professor to see what the acceptable percentage for your assignment is. See here to read more about interpreting your Turnitin Similarity Report.

U - Z

U

  • Unpaywall (see: Open Access)
    Unpaywall is a service that maintains a database of Open Access resources and makes it more easily accessible.

W

  • Works cited (see: bibliography; citations; references):
    Works Cited (and “References”) refer to the resources actually cited and mentioned in your paper. This differs from a bibliography, which is a list of all the sources you have used in the process of researching your work, whether it was cited/referenced or not.

Z

  • Zotero (see: citations; EndNote):
    Zotero is a citation machine. You can save sources you have used and referenced, and Zotero can generate citations for you. Zotero is free for you to use. There is also a plug-in for Word, which you can use to generate in-text citations as well.