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International Students - Adjusting to Academic Life in NCI: Glossary of Library and Academic Terms

International Students

Library and Academic Terms

This page is designed to give you a list of terms that you can consult, if and when you hear or read academic words in NCI that you are not familiar with or don't understand.

Glossary of Library & Academic Terms

Abstract: A short summary covering the essential points of a journal article or other publication - usually appears at the beginning. When searching through databases, you can often see a preview of the abstract to help you decide if an article is relevant for your purposes.
Advanced search: This term is found in library databases used to search for journal articles. It allows you to filter your search to help you get more accurate and relevant results.
Article: A document within a journal or newspaper, usually written by one or more named authors.
Automatic renewals: Providing that no other student is looking for a book you have on loan, the system will automatically renew your books for you when they are due. However, don’t assume that this will happen every time - make sure that you carefully read any emails you receive from the library just in case you need to bring a book back to the library.
Barcode: Each item of the library’s holdings carries an individual barcode so the library can track every single book irrespective of how many copies of a title there are in stock.
Bibliography: A list of sources an author has read and used in the course of an assignmentBibliographies are usually placed at the end of a publication or piece of coursework and entries provide publication information so readers can find and examine the sources for themselves. The list is normally ordered alphabetically by the primary author’s surname.
Call number (or subject number): A number assigned to a book according to its subject and printed on the outside of the book - this determines where the book is shelved in the library. Books with the same number are shelved alphabetically by the primary author’s surname. First find the call number on the library catalogue, then you can find the location where the book is shelved.
Citation: an in-text quotation or paraphrase providing a reference to a source used in an article, essay, book, etc.; as the writer, you should provide enough information for the reader to find the full details of the source in your list of referencesCitations must be given in a standard format; the style used on the large majority of NCI courses is the Harvard referencing style (see 1st Cite @ NCI). The full details of the citation will be featured as a reference at the end of your assignment.
Conference proceeding: A collection of papers from speakers at conferences.
Copyright: The legal rights belonging to authors and publishers which prevent the illegal copying of their work. Copyright regulations restrict photocopying to roughly 5% or one chapter of a book or one article from a journal.
Databases: Electronic collections of data/information which can be searched systematically through the A-Z Databases; the large majority of the databases to which the library subscribes can also be searched using DiscoveryDatabases can cover a range of subjects or a specific subject area; the library currently subscribes to approximately 35 online databases and resources. As the library pays for these databases, the material is more selective and quality-controlled than sources that are freely available on the internet.
Desk Reserve: Marked with a blue strip and kept behind the library circulation desk, these are key textbooks and may only be borrowed for two hours at a time; they cannot be removed from the library.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): A specific code assigned to identify online or digital material; often listed on an online article record, it can be used in a database to retrieve an item – also required for inclusion in APA referencing.
Dissertation: Another word for thesis.
Due Date: the date printed on your receipt when you check out books, telling you when you need to renew or return the books. Fines are payable for late items.
eBooks: The library holds a subscription to a range of full text electronic books, searchable via the library catalogue or through individual providers such as APA PsycBOOKs, DawsonEra, EBSCO and Safari Books Online.
Edition: A term used to describe all the copies of a book published at one particular time; be sure to check the edition outlined on your reading list when searching for a book in the library – there are several different editions of some books in the library; the highest number is the latest edition.
Eduroam: NCI’s WIFI network – you can use this to log on to the college resources and also for wireless printing.
eJournal / electronic journal/ online journal: This is an electronic copy of a journal which is available to view online. Access is usually only available if the Library has purchased a subscription for the journal. Electronic journals can be located by searching through DiscoveryA-Z Databases and A-Z eJournals.
Embargo: You may see this term in a database. It refers to the period of time between an article being published and made available in a database.
Fines: Charges you have to pay when books are returned late to the library that have been requested by another student; the current fines are €1 per book per day for main lending books and €1 per hour for desk reserve books.
Full-text: In the context of online resources, this means that the entire text is available (not just a citation or an abstract); this will often be indicated with a “full-text pdf” link and icon. You can restrict your searches on Discovery and individual databases to include only articles with full-text online.
Group Study Rooms: The group study rooms can be booked by students at the library circulation desk; they are available to groups of two or more students for two hours at a time. Reservations are on a first-come, first-served basis and they can only be used by registered NCI students.
In-text citation: when referring to an author’s work in an assignment, you need to quote the author’s surname and date of the publication in the body of the text. The full reference is found in the reference list at the end of the assignment.
Issue: These are usually published regularly in weekly, monthly or quarterly issues (or parts) and these often have a number. For example, in a journal published monthly the January issue is number one etc. Journals are usually published in one volume per year and then several issues within that volume. See also volume.
Keyword: A searchable word or phrase that best defines your research topic; used for searching the library catalogue and databaseskeyword searches locate results by matching the search word to an item in the resource being searched.
Library Catalogue: A listing of the library holdings, it can be used to find a book or get referencing information. The library catalogue can be searched by author, keyword or title.
Library Circulation Desk: Here you can borrow, return or renew books, take two hour loans on desk reserve items and theses, book group study rooms or request assistance on any other matter.
Library Help Centre: You can contact the Library Help Centre if you need help with referencing or finding information for your assignments.
Literature Review: An evaluation of what has already been published by scholars and researchers on a specific topic. A literature review is normally required when researching a project or dissertation and is defined and guided by the central concept of the research.
Loan Periods/Limits: undergraduate students can borrow up to 5 items at a time for a period 2 weeks; postgraduate students can borrow up to 10 items at a time for a period of 4 weeks at a time. Books can be renewed as often as you like, providing a hold request has not been made by another student or that fines are not owed.
Main Lending: All books in the main lending section of the library are available for borrowing (2 weeks undergraduate, 4 weeks postgraduate); the main lending description is displayed on the library catalogue.
Module: Most academic courses are divided into modules which examine a specific topic within a particular subject area.
Moodle: The Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) through which lecturers provide course information, files and documents to students.
NORMA (also known as the institutional repository): This contains theses. reports and projects; viewed through the library website, this is the digital archive providing online access to copies of past theses submitted for National College of Ireland degrees since 1999 as well as listing academic material published by lecturers within the college.
Overdue: If an item you have on loan is requested by someone else and you don’t return it, it is then overdue and you will be asked to pay a fine.
Paraphrase: Rephrase a source’s information in your own words. A paraphrase is normally a similar word length to the original material but you must do more than simply substitute a few words and you must still acknowledge the original source – using substantially different wording, it’s rather like a translation in the same language.
Past Exam Papers: Past exam papers are available through the library webpage; the number of papers available may vary depending on how long your particular course has been running in the college. By selecting browse you will see the full listing of the past exam papers.
PDF: Portable Document Format (PDF) is the standard format through which full-text documents and articles are displayed in most databases. Always look out for the ‘full-text pdf’ link when looking to access the full document in your search for online material.
Peer Review: This refers to the process by which a journal or article is checked by a panel of experts to determine whether it is worthy of publication. This evaluation process ensures that scholarly work meets a higher standard than popular publications. Peer reviewed articles are sometimes also referred to as academic or scholarly articles.
Periodicals: Another name for journals
Plagiarism: failure to reference work where appropriate is taken very seriously and is called plagiarism; this is the act of taking another person’s words or ideas and using them as your own without referencing them. A student will avoid plagiarism by correctly referencing and paraphrasing; please consult the library referencing guide 1st Cite @ NCI for more information.
Reference: A detailed description of a resource used in your research; listed at the end of your work, a reference provides all the information that a reader needs in order to locate the information.
Renewals: The library has automatic renewals if no other student is looking for a book that you have on loan; you can also renew your books in person, over the phone, via email or online.
Self-Service Machine: Opposite the library circulation desk, this machine can be used to check in and check out books, renew items or simply check your library account.
Subject Guides: These should be consulted to access all online library guides and also to access subject specific information relevant to your course.
Subject Number: Another word for call number.
Thesis (also known as a dissertation): A substantial piece of work written as part of the requirements for a first degree, master’s degree or PhD. The library holds copies of past theses submitted by NCI students; they may only be borrowed for two hours at a time and cannot be taken out of the library. A list of the theses is available at the library circulation desk – many of the theses can also be viewed online as pdf copies through the NORMA link on the library webpage.
Turnitin: An online service used by NCI for the submission of projects and assignments through MoodleTurnitin analyses written text to ensure it is original work by checking it against billions of web pages and millions of student papers, databases and publications. It then returns a colour-coded “originality report” highlighting the text matches it has found.
URL (uniform resource locator): An internet address used for a web page; this is required when referencing any online material from the internet in your academic work. An example of a URL is
Volume: Journals are usually published in volumes (often one volume per year). A volume then contains several issues (or parts). See also issue.
Keep up to date on any library news and resources by following @NCILibrary on Facebook Twitter Instagram
Communications from the Library: Please note all communications from the library, concerning renewal of books, overdue books and reservations will be sent to your NCI student email account.