American University of Paris Library | Lexicon

Link to AUP Facebook (Opens new window)


Abstract - a brief summary of the content of an article, book, speech, report, dissertation, etc.  In scholarly journals, the abstract usually appears at the beginning of an article (after the article title and author's name, and before the text). 

Citation - information given in a book, index, or catalog which serves to identify a particular title or entry.  Citations may include titles, authors or editors, publication data (including dates), volume numbers, page numbers, URLs. 

Database- an organized collection of information (data), in electronic format, arranged for ease of access, search, and retrieval by computer.  Periodical indexes are examples of databases to which libraries often subscribe. Under the terms of a licensing agreement, access may be limited to registered library patrons. 

Descriptors - words used to describe the contents of books, articles, and other materials for the purpose of organizing them and creating a searchable index by topic. See also Subject Headings

Full Text - the entire text of an article or work (a full-text database contains, in addition to citations, the complete text of a significant proportion of the articles indexed.). 

Keyword(s) - A significant word (or group of words) used as a natural language search term to retrieve information from a database.  The keyword search option allows users to enter a word or words that describe their query (usually in any order).  Since a database can retrieve any occurrence of the keyword in the abstract, title, subject headings (descriptors), or text of an entry, irrelevant hits may be retrieved along with the relevant.  Keyword searching does not take into account the meanings of terms input, simply their occurrence in different areas of a record or database. 

Natural Language Searching - In database searching, natural language refers to human language and its current usage (as opposed to computer language or coding).  Natural language searching means that the user can input search terms as the user would normally speak or type them. 

Periodical Index- A cumulative list of periodical articles, arranged in searchable format.  Print indexes are usually arranged alphabetically by subject and by author's last name. Most periodical indexes are devoted to a specific field (example: Art Abstracts for Architecture and the Arts) or a specific periodical (example: New York Times Index). In libraries, periodical indexes may be available in print, on CD-ROM, via the online catalog, or as separate online databases. 

Popular Journals - magazines and journals published for the mass market and easily found on public newsstands.  Articles are written by staff or free-lance writers and are geared to the general population; they often include numerous advertisements and photos and can be glossy or colorful in appearance.  Examples: Newsweek, Time, l'Express, Nature, Variety, Scientific American. 

Scholarly Journals - publications containing articles written or edited by scholars and researchers in a particular field.  Most articles published in scholarly journals report on original research or experimentation and include sources and bibliographies.  Scholarly journals are usually published by universities, research centers, or professional associations.  Illustrations, when they occur, are often charts and graphs. Examples: Chaucer Review, American Philosophical Quarterly, Art Bulletin, Oxford Art Journal, International Journal of Middle East Studies

Search Term - In database searching, a word or phrase expressing an information need or query which is acceptable to a specific search software system. In most databases, such a word or phrase may be either a descriptor (subject heading) or a natural language expression. 

Subject Headings - in libraries, these are words or phrases used to index books, documents and other material by topic.  Subject headings are also used as access points in many electronic databases.  Many libraries use the Library of Congress (U.S.) subject headings to catalog their collections. Knowledge of subject headings can contribute to more effective research. See also Descriptors