Research for Technical Report Writing

How to speak "Library"

Libraries use a specific vocabulary. To help you navigate this guide here's a terminology list that is specific to research and libraries. 

For students with English as a second language, here's a multilingual glossary with definitions.

Library terminology

Most professions have their own vocabulary, or jargon, and libraries are no exception. When your professor gives you an assignment or asks about your research, he or she is likely to use some of those terms. Here are some terms relating to libraries and library research used in this guide and often used in academia.


A written essay or report on a subject. Articles appear in magazines, journals, newspapers,
and in encyclopedias, among others.


The writer of a book or article. The author may be one person, several people, or a "corporate body"
such as a government agency, professional association, or company.

Boolean Logic 

These allow you to combine words or phrases representing significant concepts when searching in an online
catalog or bibliographic database by keywords. The three primary operators are AND, OR, and NOT

Call Number

A combination of letters and numbers used to place a book or a bound periodical in its proper place on the shelf.
The call number serves to group books together according to subject in an organizational scheme. Think of a call
number as the address of the book/video etc. on the library shelf.

Citation or Reference 

Information such as author, title, pagination, and dates that identifies an item - book, journal article, or other format.
Sufficient information is included to locate the original item.


A collection of electronic records having a standardized format and using specific software for computer access.


A type of periodical, often issued by a society or institution, containing news, proceedings, transactions
and articles about work carried out in a particular discipline. Intended for a scholarly audience.


A popular periodical usually read for pleasure or to keep up with current events.


A general term referring to any publication that is published at regular intervals of time: weekly, monthly,
quarterly, etc. Journals and magazines are examples of periodicals.


The shortening or cutting off part of a keyword. The keyword is shortened so that it will match with all terms
starting with the same stem, e.g. Canad* will match with Canada, Canadians, Canadien, etc.