OSU Navigation Bar

The Ohio State University

OSU Libraries

net.TUTOR: Glossary

net.TUTOR > Glossary

These important terms are used in the tutorials:

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X Y Z


A brief summary of the key points of a written work, such as an article.

Administrative address
This is the e-mail address of the mailing list manager (software) for all lists that are hosted on a particular mail server. It is used to subscribe, unsubscribe to a list. For example: listproc@lists.unc.edu

Advocacy site
Main purpose of this type of Web site (also called a "soapbox" site) is to sway opinion. Useful for understanding opinions on a controversial topic, but not necessarily for unbiased information.

Alternative newspaper
Newspaper that adopts an arts, counterculture or non-mainstream perspective.

Asynchronous discussion
Discussion participants read and send messages at various times, over an extended period of time. The opposite type, synchronous discussion, requires that all participants be present at the same time, as in a chat room.

A file that is transmitted along with an e-mail message.

Credibility of the author. Does this person or organization have the appropriate training, education or experience to write on the topic?


A preference or inclination that prevents objective consideration of an issue or situation.

Bibliographic database
A database that identifies and describes writings or published works (books, articles, maps, etc.). One example is the library catalog.

Blind carbon copy. Used in e-mail to send a copy of a message without other recipients knowing about it.

Biographical information
Information about the lives of people.

Also known as a Weblog. A blog is a type of online journal that is part Web diary and part community. The creator (blogger) posts short reflections on various topics, and readers may add commentary.

Pointer that stores the URL of a Web page so you can return to it easily. Also called a Favorite.

Boolean operators
Connectors that describe the logical relationship between search words. Some commonly used operators are: AND, OR, NOT, ADJ.


Location for temporary files stored by the Web browser.

Call number
Number created by the library and printed on item labels. Because of the way they are structured, they bring works on the same topic or by the same author together, so that you can browse easily.

Web server's ID badge, verifies owner of the site.

An online group which meets "synchronously" (all users need to be logged in at the same time).

All of the pertinent information needed to identify and locate a publication, such as an article or a book.

Commercial site
Main purpose of this type of Web site is to promote and sell products or services.

Controlled vocabulary
A listing of words or terms which can be used as subject headings or descriptors in a particular database.

Text file that stores information about pages viewed, passwords, etc.

Extent of information on a topic that is provided by a particular source.

The state of being up-to-date. Some sources are frequently revised or kept current.


A collection of data arranged for ease and speed of search and retrieval. Databases are created to manage distinct sets or types of information.

Directory database
A database that provides brief, factual or descriptive information and is used for quick look-ups (find an address, confirm a name, locate a place, etc.).

Display options
Settings that control Web browser fonts, colors.

Supplying documents or references to support a position or argument.


An electronic book, one that is available in digital format (on the Web or CD-ROM) and can be read using a computer.

E-mail address
Identifies a specific e-mail account (username) located at (@) a particular domain.

A short sequence of keyboard letters and symbols that signifies a facial expression or emotion. Also called a "smiley." For example: :-)

Scrambling of text or data for security purposes.

Exact phrase
Two or more words that appear immediately adjacent to one another, in the exact order you type them.

Saving and sending information from a database. You may select results to export and then send them by e-mail, download them to your computer in various formats, or print them.


The acronym stand for "Frequently Asked Questions." A compendium of questions and answers that have been posted to a discussion forum. Check here first if you have a basic question.

Pointer that stores the URL of a Web page so you can return to it easily. Also called a Bookmark.

An element of a database record in which one piece of information is stored.

Rules used to sift through documents, looking for particular words. A filter in an e-mail program is used to route messages to appropriate mailboxes automatically.

Finding aid
A compilation that identifies useful works on a broad subject.

Multiple sections within a Web browser window, where each section can display a different page or URL.

Usually refers to a database or document collection where the complete document (article, report, etc.) can be read using a computer.


Portion of the e-mail message that includes message sender, recipients, subject line, attachments.

Home page
The starting point for a Web site, like the cover page or the table of contents of a book.

A clickable connection that allows you to jump from one word, picture, or information object to another.


A graphic image or picture on a Web page that can contain many embedded links.


Interactive program embedded in a Web page.


Key concepts
The main ideas expressed in a search statement.

Keyword search
Search a database for the occurrence of specific words or terms, regardless of where they may appear in the database record.


Library catalog
The catalog is a specialized bibliographic database with records describing materials owned or licensed by a library.

Database feature that allows you to search for words that occur in a particular field (or part) of the database record (such as the URL, title, subject heading, etc.) or to narrow/filter search results by some other criteria (domain, geography, language, etc.).

List commands
Instructions sent to the mailing list manager (using the administrative address of the list). They include subscribe, unsubscribe, help, digest, etc.

A field in the library catalog record that indicates where an item is shelved.


Periodicals published weekly or monthly that contain short or medium length articles, often with catchy titles, written by staff writers for the general public.

Mailing list
A type of online discussion group. Messages are sent to subscribers using the e-mail system.

Mathematical operators
Mathematical symbols (plus, minus) that are used in some databases to require or eliminate search words.

A directory or folder for filing and storing messages in your e-mail program.

A convenient tool that allows you to construct a search and then forward it to many different Web indexes and directories at once.

Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension. One method of encoding e-mail attachments.

Moderated list
A mailing list or forum with a person (moderator) responsible for reviewing all postings and ensuring they relate to the topic at hand.

Works that combine various communication media, such as text, graphics, sound and video.


News reader
A browser program which enables a user to read messages posted to newsgroups. Some e-mail programs include newsgroup reading functions.

A type of online discussion group. Newsgroups work much like mailing lists. Everyone subscribed to a list can see messages posted there.

Numeric database
A database that provides mostly numeric data (numbers) in chart or table format.


A statewide system linking the catalogs of college and university libraries in Ohio.

Another (older) name for the Ohio State University Libraries online library catalog and circulation system.


The process where specialists review and select the research of others in their field for publication in scholarly journals.

Periodical index
A database of articles appearing in magazines and journals, which can be searched by author, title, journal name, subject, words in the abstract, etc.

Periodicals directory
This source provides detailed descriptive information about periodicals.

Program developed to work with the browser.

Popular magazine
Type of periodical (or recurring publication) that contains articles written by staff writers for the general public.

This type of Web site is a central jumping-off point to content and applications on a topic. It may also be called a "gateway," "research guide," "virtual library" or "Web directory." It includes links to online resources, organized into topical categories, and may also include articles, current news and other special features. Many portals provide a search function, but the nature of this search varies widely.

Primary source
Primary sources are contemporary records, created at the time an event occurred. Primary sources contain original information and are usually the place where the original information first appears. They may be published or unpublished documents, visual documents or artifacts, including books, personal papers, government documents, letters, oral accounts, diaries, maps, photographs, reports, novels and short stories, coins, stamps, and many other things.


Measures of the value of a Web site, such as awards, positive reviews, inclusion in selective Web directories, and links to or citation of the source by others.

A collection of related, often adjacent items of data, treated as a unit within a database.

Reference/information site
Main purpose of this type of Web site is to provide access to useful information and services. Often provided by universities, government agencies and commercial publishers.

Fetch a fresh copy of the Web page currently displayed in the browser window.

Research guide
A finding aid that lists (and may also describe or evaluate) reference works and important books on a topic. Also called a bibliography.

Results clustering
Web search engine feature that scans results and eliminates multiple pages from the same site, so that you view only one page from a Web site in the top search results.

Results ranking
Web search engine feature that uses various formulas to analyze search results and list the most relevant results first.

RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is a method for distributing and aggregating Web content (such as news headlines) that changes frequently. Using RSS, Web content providers can easily create and disseminate feeds of data that include, for example, news links, headlines, and summaries.


Scholarly journal
Type of periodical (or recurring publication) that contains lengthy articles written by scholars and reviewed by other researchers in that field.

Scope describes the purpose and the type of information contained in a database.

Search engine
Another name for a Web index. It uses special software programs (called robots, spiders or crawlers) to find Web pages and "index" or list all words within each one. You may then search for words and find Web pages or documents that contain them.

Secondary source
Resource that discusses or analyzes primary sources. Many books and articles are secondary sources.

Contains information that you want to automatically include in your e-mail messages, such as your name, mailing address, etc.

Site publisher
The organization hosting a site on its Web server or the individual/organization that holds the copyright on a site.

Software robot
This program (also known as a spider or crawler) roams the Web, collects information from Web pages, and stores this information in a database called an "index."

Unsolicited "junk" e-mail, usually selling a product or service.

Specialized database
The smallest, most focused search tool, where information is usually limited to a specific topic but provided in-depth. They are sometimes called the "Invisible Web" because they contain information that is not listed in Web indexes.

Collated or raw numbers that are the result of research, surveys, or information gathering. Data may appear in database form, as raw numbers, or in stylized report and table format.

Status field
A field in the library catalog record that indicates whether an item is available to borrow, checked out, or must be used in the library.

Status indicator
Graphic in upper right corner of the Web browser window that shows movement while a Web page is downloading.

Subject headings
Standard terms used to precisely describe the content of information sources in a database (books, Web sites, etc.). They are sometimes called descriptors.

Synchronous discussion
This type of online discussion requires that all participants be present at the same time, as in a chat room. The opposite type is asynchronous discussion.


A list of the standard terms (subject headings or descriptors) used in a particular database.

A posting (message) and all of the responses to it constitute a thread. To "follow a thread" is to read a series of messages sharing a common subject.

A row of image "buttons" that provide an easy way to select certain software functions.

Topic aspects
Facets of the research topic (such as time period, geographic location) that can be used to limit or qualify a search.

Trade publication
Type of periodical (or recurring publication) that contains practical articles written by and for professionals in a particular field.


Acronymn stands for Uniform Resource Locator. This is the unique Internet address of a Web page that is used in making a hyperlink.

A distributed bulletin board system developed in the early days of the Internet. Newsgroups are sometimes referred to as USENET forums.


Virtual library
A virtual library is an organized collection of information sources, including digital documents. It is not a physical place, like your local library, but exists only in computer space.


Web browser
Software program that reads and displays Web pages. Internet Explorer and Mozilla are two popular browsers.

Web directory
Search tool created by editors or trained researchers who categorize or classify Web sites by subject.

Web forum
These groups require no special software other than your Web browser. Like mailing lists and newsgroups they are "asynchronous" (meaning you can read messages and reply whenever convenient for you).

Web index
Search tool also known as a search engine. It uses special software programs (called robots, spiders or crawlers) to find Web pages and "index" or list all words within each one. You may then search for words and find Web pages or documents that contain them.

Web site
A collection of Web pages, similar to a book that contains various chapters.

Symbol used to indicate word truncation. When you add a wildcard symbol after a word root (such as advertis), you will retrieve different variants of the word (advertise, advertising, advertisement).


net.TUTOR © 1997-2009, The Ohio State University Libraries