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Glossary and definitions

You may come across new terms when exploring your library. Here are some common words and acronyms we use, as well as their definitions.

Annotated bibliography

An annotated bibliography is a select list of sources where you add a brief explanation or note to each reference or citation.


A bookmark in the digital world is similar to how you use a bookmark when reading a textbook. It’s a placeholder or shortcut for any information you want to go back to. You can quickly get to your favourite webpages by saving a digital bookmark in your web browser.

Most browsers allow you to create shortcut bookmarks, but each browser may have a different way of setting them up.


A bookmarklet can add new functions to your web browser. It gives you shortcut actions on a webpage with just a click. You don’t need to install a bookmarklet, you just add it to your bookmarks (refer to section above).

Our bookmarklet which simplifies your access to research resources, is a good example of what a bookmarklet can do.

Boolean operators

Boolean operators are simple words such as AND, OR, NOT or AND NOT used to combine or exclude keywords in a database search. This gives you more focused and productive results.

To learn more about how to use Boolean operators and other search techniques, visit Planning your search.


A web browser is software you install to access and read information on the internet. Commonly used browsers include Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Safari. Mozilla Firefox is the browser recommended by Deakin.

For more information visit the browser settings website.


You may be told to clear your cache when you have trouble loading a webpage. A browser cache stores some of the data from webpages you visit so it loads faster next time. Sometimes the cached data gets confused and your webpages partially load, or you have error messages, or the format of the page looks strange.

For cache troubleshooting visit How do I clear my web history (cookies and cache).

Call numbers

Call numbers are addresses which help us locate materials in the library. They are a combination of letters and numbers on the spine of a library book to indicate its place on the shelf. The first line is read in alphabetical order and then the numbers are read in ascending order.


A citation is a written reference to another source and is used in academic writing to acknowledge where the information has come from. It includes basic details about a resource that help people find it, such as the author, title and page numbers. For more information refer to Using sources.


A database is a searchable collection of published information. Databases can provide access to journal articles, newspapers, images and more. Refer to the list of databases available through the library.

Digital literacy

Digital literacy is the ability to identify and use technology confidently, creatively and critically to effectively meet the demands and challenges of living, learning and working in a digital society.

Developing digital literacies is part of becoming digitally fluent. For more information on this Deakin Global Learning Outcome refer to What is Digital Literacy?


A DOI, or Digital Object Identifier, is used to permanently identify an article or document and link to it on the web. It's generally considered more reliable than a URL. We sometimes use DOIs on library records and you may find them in online journals and articles.

For example, adding the DOI 10.1108/K-07-2018-0390 to creates: This will take you directly to the resource record "From digital citizen to digital professional".

Find it @Deakin

When searching the Deakin Library collection or Google Scholar, you may refer to the Find it @Deakin button in your results. Selecting this allows you to access the full text of a resource.

Full text

This term denotes the complete text of an article, book or other resource.  The full text may be in HTML or PDF format. Databases can contain full-text or just the details of resources. In some databases, you can tick a box to limit your search results to only full-text resources.

Grey literature

Grey literature is research that is either unpublished or not published commercially.

Journal article

Journal articles are written by experts on very specific topics of research. The articles are published within journals, which are scholarly publications that are released regularly throughout the year. You can access journals from databases and Google Scholar.

Key concepts

Key concepts are the main ideas in a research or assessment topic. They can be a good starting point for developing a search strategy.

Example: What effect does coffee have on young adults?

In this question, the key concepts are 'coffee' and 'young adults'. If you are having trouble identifying the key concepts in a topic, try summarising the topic in your own words to determine the main ideas.


Keywords are alternative words used in a search, also known as synonyms. It is important to use a variety of keywords when searching to retrieve the best results, as researchers may use different words to describe the same concept.

Example: If you are looking for articles about 'climate change' and only search for that term, you may miss articles that use the terms 'global warming' or 'greenhouse effect'.


Limiters (also known as filters) are an option in many databases that allow users to restrict their search results by criteria. Common limiters include language, date and format. Limiter options vary by database.

Literature review

A literature review is both a process and a product, where you find, critically analyse and synthesise published literature on a particular topic.

Open Access

Open Access (OA) is a publishing movement aimed at making research freely available online. For more information refer to the open access guide.

Peer review process

Peer review is a quality control process where an author's scholarly work or research is evaluated by experts in the same field. For more information refer to the peer review guide.


Also known as a stable or persistent link, a permalink (permanent link) provides consistent access to a webpage or digital resource.

If you can't find the permalink for a Deakin Library resource, you can paste the URL or DOI into the Stable link builder to create a permanent link. For more information refer to Permanent linking.


A digital platform is an online space for presenting content. A platform generally contains a lot of information and allows people to view, share, and save content. Facebook and Twitter are examples of social media platforms.

EBSCOhost is a platform you may use during your studies. It includes many databases that you can search for journal articles, newspaper articles, reports and more.

Primary and secondary resources

Primary sources provide original information and first-hand accounts. Secondary sources summarise, interpret or analyse primary sources. For more information refer to the primary and secondary sources guide.

Subject headings

Subject headings are tags assigned to library resources. They are selected from a controlled vocabulary list and each resource will have multiple subject headings assigned to it. Subject headings are different from keywords because they are specific terms assigned to a subject by the library or publisher.


Truncation is a searching technique used in databases in which a word ending is replaced by a symbol. This lets you search for a term and variant spellings of that term. Typically, the truncation symbol is an asterisk.

Example: a search for the term laugh*, will search for results containing laugh, laughter and laughing.

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