Research terminology – communication studies – libguides at youngstown state university

Bibliographic description – in cataloging, the description of a bibliographic item, divided into the following areas: title and statement of responsibility; edition; material (or type of publication) specific details; publication, distribution, etc.; physical description; series; notes of useful information which cannot be fitted into other areas; and standard number and terms of availability. (ALA)

Commercial (online) databases – collections of information or articles, sharing a common characteristic such as subject discipline or type, which are produced for profit and made available to libraries (as well as to individuals and other institutions) through purchase or subscription. Such collections are usually generated under the auspices of some sort of editorial board and generally contain reliable/authoritative information.


Online databases are usually accessed via links from library web pages to online hosts, which normally offer many different databases.

Online (electronic) database – information collections, sharing a common characteristic such as subject discipline or type, which are published electronically by public- or private-sector database producers (usually on a commercials basis) and made available to a large public for interactive searching and information retrieval. Online databases are accessed via telecommunications or wide area network links to remote online host services which normally offer many different databases. CD-ROMs are optical disks which are mounted locally on a PC, workstation or local area network. (IEI)

Online public access catalog (OPAC) – a computer-based and supported library catalog (bibliographic database) designed to be accessed via terminals so that library users may directly and effectively search for and retrieve bibliographic records without the assistance of a human intermediary such as a specially trained member of the library staff.

Reference resources – materials containing brief, factual information relating to a wide variety of topics (as a general encyclopedia, such as Encyclopaedia Britannica) or specific to a very narrow discipline, such as The New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments. Print references in a library do not circulate to afford maximum accessibility to users. Examples of reference materials include: dictionaries, encyclopedias, handbooks, and periodical indices. These materials are found on the main (ground) floor of Maag Library in the Reference Room. Maag also has reference scores, which include monuments of music and complete works of composers.

Reserves (course reserves) – materials set aside by a professor/instructor for a specific academic course and given a limited check-out period (usually anywhere from 2 hours to 3 days) so that all the members of the class may have acess to them. Print reserves are often shelved behind the Circulation Desk of academic libraries. Electronic reserves may be available from a library’s Web site ( maag.ysu.edu). Be sure you know (1) your professor’s name, (2) the name and/or number of the class, and (3) the title of the item you need.