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HIS 5369 The Historian's Craft

Resources for the graduate historiography class.

Glossary of Library and Research Terms

Abstract (n.)

"a summary of points (as of a writing) usually presented in skeleltal form also something that summarizes or concentrates the essentials of a larger thing or of several things." Merriam-Webster Dictionary (


"1the history, identification, or description of writings or publications

2aa list often with descriptive or critical notes of writings relating to a particular subject, period, or author 

ba list of works written by an author or printed by a publishing house 

3the works or a list of the works referred to in a text or consulted by the author in its product)ion"  Merriam-Webster Dictionary (

Boolean Logic/Boolean Operators

Boolean logic is based on math and helps answer logical true and false questions. None of us came into English because we are mathematical geniuses, so don't panic. You will use this logic to include (and), exclude (not), or expand (or) your research strategy when searching computer-based systems. We'll use the Boolean operators, and, or, not, to build search strategies to focus research on what you really want rather than everything that is out there.

So, you are researching style and poetry in Walt Whitman. You'd enter that in the discovery system/database as this phrase: style and poetry and Whitman, Walt  If you wanted to exclude Whitman's "Leaves of Grass" from the results you would use this phrase: style and poetry and Whitman, Walt not Leaves of Grass. The operator OR is used for synonyms or inclusively. If you wanted to study Whitman's style in poetry or prose you would write the phrase this way: style and (poetry or prose) and Whitman, Walt not Leaves of Grass


"2a: a complete enumeration of items arranged systematically with descriptive details

ba pamphlet or book that contains such a list" Merriam-Webster (


"a usually large collection of data organized especially for rapid search and retrieval (as by a computer)" Merriam-Webster (

Discovery System

current term for a library's public computer system which searches and returns results from a library's resources regardless of format or location in the library; formerly you'd have to look in the catalog for books and maybe journal titles, an index for articles in journals, a separate catalog for a library's special collections or archives materials , and individual databases for what might be discovered there. Discovery systems are the Google equivalent to finding upwards of 90-95% of the materials a library holds or has access to in one place. OneSearch is Baylor Libraries' discovery systemEileen's definition


"10a particular area (as of a record in a database) in which the same type of information is regularly recorded" Merriam-Webster (


an indication in a resource that you have access to the entire text of the document - as in a database like JSTOR which contains the complete article (usually in PDF format); different from an index and an index/abstract (like the MLA International Bibliography which does not usually provide the full-text of the article indexed. Eileen's definition


"1a list (as of bibliographical information or citations to a body of literature) arranged usually in alphabetical order of some specified datum (such as author, subject, or keyword): such as . . . 

ca bibliographical analysis of groups of publications that is usually published periodically "Merriam-Webster (


"a significant word from a title or document used especially as an index to content" Merriam-Webster (; N.B.: a keyword is not the same as a subject or subject heading, it refers to words you believe you are likely to find anywhere in a document. Contrast with Subject/Subject Heading below.

Limiters or Filters

in Databases and Discovery Systems these are the pre-provided ways you can limit your result list - usually by date, language, scholarly (or peer-reviewed or academic), subject heading, or other fields. Eileen's definition

Primary Source

In literary research this most often refers to the text of the book, poem, or literary work you are researching - "Mending Wall" or A Tale of Two Cities. It can also refer to the various drafts of the work, the writer's diaries or memoirs or autobiography. In history studies, it refers to any document created at the time of an event, so includes newspapers, diaries, bank statements, etc. Eileen's definition


Which company do we buy our databases and ebooks from? You are probably familiar with the EBSCO databases, like Academic Search Complete, and all of the databases we buy from EBSCO will have the same "look" because they are on the same platform. But we could also buy the MLA Bibliography from another vendor, ProQuest, and it would look very different - although it would have the same options, perhaps with different names. Chalk it up to branding. Eileen's definition

Scholarly Apparatus

The content of a book that includes, but is not limited to, preface, acknowledgements, introduction, footnotes, bibliography, and indexes; for your purposes the more important sections are the "Introduction" and/or "Preface" as these are the places where the author or editors lay out what the intention of the book is. Valuable information here, so be sure to check these out. (see: "Academic English" from: The Oxford Companion to the English Language, 2nd ed. (

Secondary Source

In literary studies these comprise the scholarly and critical books and articles you will use in your research. Contrast with Primary SourceEileen's definition

Streaming Resources

Online video and audio resources (like Naxos Spoken Word Library, Theatre in Video, and Electrothèque, to list just a few that we have at the Baylor Libraries). Eileen's definition


A specific word or phrase used to organize resources in a library catalog, discovery system, or database. The advantage of subjects, or descriptors as some databases label them, is two-fold: 1) all library items given the subject "American Poetry" will be listed under that term, and 2) there is often a hierarchy where broader subjects will include narrower related subjects, or a system of subheadings as in "Poetry - United States - 20th Century" - which leads us to:

LC Subject Headings

Library of Congress (LC) subject headings are the headings we use at Baylor University Libraries (and which are used at most college & university libraries). You can search for LC Subject headings before you begin a search in our collections. However, LC Subject headings are only used in the portion of our Discovery Service that indexes our books, ebooks, and journals. Each database (like the MLA International Bibliography) has their unique set of subject headings or descriptors that make sense within that discipline. Eileen's definitions



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