Skip to Main Content

Information Literacy @ Madison College Libraries - Faculty Info: Information Literacy - Glossary of Terms

What Terms Will Students Encounter?

From the moment you give a research assignment until the final hours it is due, students will encounter new terminology associated with Information Literacy.

Please share this glossary (at right) with your students as questions arise.

Below are glossaries from other institutions.

Library Vocabulary

Note: The Glossary is a work in progress!

APA Style - A bibliographic citation format outlined in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. Available in the library. 

Article - Nonfiction contribution to a newspaper or magazine or journal that is most often devoted to a single topic.  Articles can be in electronic form, available on the web, or found through library databases.  Some articles found online are not available in print and vice-versa.

A - E method of information evaluation

  • Authority - Refers to the author or organization's credentials to report information on a particular topic.
  • Bias - Indicates the degree of objectivity of an author, organization, or source.  Including more personal beliefs, opinion, and emotion indicate more bias and less objectivity.
  • Currency - Relates to whether or not source material is up-to-date.  For topics, such as technology, sources might have to be very recent in order to ensure accuracy.
  • Domain - A website's URL or address indicates the type of source it is (.edu, higher education; .gov, federal or state government), which can help visitors decide if the source is credible & accurate.
  • External verification - Cross-check the key facts, statistics, and claims of information sources against other, trusted information sources.

Bibliography - A list of citations for a paper, report, article, or a particular topic.

Book - Also called a monograph in the library world, a book may appear in printed or electronic form.  Books can be a collection of published essays from different authors organized by an editor, or the work of one or more authors who created the content.

Catalog - Any collection of records, each of which is represented by a physical object.  In the case of Madison College Libraries, we have an online catalog containing all of the books and videos and periodical titles (no content) offered by the Libraries.

Citation - A short text notation that describes a work and where and in what form that work can be referred to.  The structure of the citation will be different, depending on the citation format (MLA, APA), but normally includes author, title, publisher, and format (print, online) information.

CRAAP Test - Another method for Evaluating Information Sources:

  • C = Currency
  • R = Relevance
  • A = Authority
  • A = Accuracy
  • P = Purpose

Database - Technically speaking, it is any collection of records that may be electronically searched in multiple ways.  In libraries, these are most often online catalogs or collections of articles and citations.  Madison College has many databases; Our largest and most comprehensive is Academic Search Complete.

Evaluation of Information - See above for one method (A-E).  The goal in evaluating information is to determine a source's credibility, accuracy, and to determine any bias in the sources presentation of material or in the conclusions that are drawn from the facts and statistics it cites as evidence.

Full text - The contents of an article available online.  Some websites and databases offer only a sample or citation of an article's content.  In that case you might have to request we locate the full text of the article for you.  Otherwise, you can link to the full text in either PDF (image) or HTML (web page) provided by the publisher.

Government information - Reports, articles, and statistics provided by state and federal governments.  If you see a .gov in the page's URL, these are the official numbers that governments collect on almost every aspect of American life.

Index - Can be as simple as a guide to a book's content, often found in the back of a book, or an online guide to a page, subject, or website.

Interlibrary loan - We rely on interlibrary loan to borrow materials from other libraries.  In some cases, we might have access to other materials that you can use, so be sure to check with librarians if you are having trouble locating good source materials.  Still, for some topics we will work with our library partners to get materials for you and your students, but do allow us some lead time for materials to arrive!

Keywords - Keywords are the terms that come to mind when you think of your topic.  Search engines like Google and Yahoo allow you to enter as many keywords as you like, but library databases might require you to determine which subject terms best fit your topic to find the best resources.

Non-profit - Organization that is established for purposes other than directly creating revenue for profit.  Information from non-profits can be reliable and accurate.  However, beware of marketing organizations that are created as non-profits to give the appearance of greater credibility and objectivity.

Periodical - Written magazine, newspaper, academic journal, or trade publication that is published in regular intervals. Some are published daily, monthly, weekly, quarterly, depending on the source.

Plagiarism - The act of appropriating the work or ideas of others and presenting it as one's own.  For more information, see:

Query - Another term for question. However, it is also used for the terms one uses to search a database. Each query that is different will produce a different set of search results.

Research guide - Most libraries identify trusted resources for a wide-range of topics.  Research guides can be a great way to identify good Web sites, recommended reading, and sometimes suggested search terminology.  Our full list can be found at

Subject terms - Librarians and Indexers create specific terminology for research topics.  Generally, library resources, including databases and catalogs, are organized using those terms.  For example, searching the word college, you might find a book that is categorized under 'college student orientation' or one that is categorized under the term 'study skills'.  Both of these are 'subjects' in our catalog of books and videos.  It might be helpful when you begin with a broad topic to search for materials using particular subject terms, rather than keywords.

URL - The acronym stands for Uniform Resource Locator, or more simply, "Web address".  When evaluating information on the Web, 

Works cited - MLA citation calls for a 'works cited' page that is a listing of resources, or citations, formatted using MLA citation style.  For more information on MLA, see