Advanced search interface: Allows for additional search features such as Boolean operators or filters, as opposed to a "standard" search that only allows for a single search field. An advanced search allows for greater efficiency through additional research string criteria and other parameters such as dates.

Article: Independent text constituting part of a periodical publication, such as a newspaper article or a journal article.


Bibliographical reference: Bibliographical elements that identify a document: author name, title, edition, publisher, year of publication, number of pages, etc. The formatting of bibliographical references follows strict guidelines.

Bibliography: List of references for documents (books, journal articles, reports, audiovisual documents, etc.) on a specific subject or a given period and arranged in a precise order. A bibliography (or reference list) can either constitute a separate publication or assemble the documents consulted by an author during the writing of a book, an article, or a research report, in which case it is situated at the end of the publication in question. Ex.: bibliography at the end of a Master's thesis. For non-written documents, the appropriate term is used, for example filmography for a list of films, webliography for a list of websites, etc.

Boolean operators: The Boolean search operators AND, OR, and NOT allow you to broaden or narrow a search by combining multiple criteria.


Call number: Group of symbols (letters, numbers, codes) serving to designate the physical location of a resource (book, DVD, serial, etc.) on the shelves in a library.


DOI: A Digital Object Identifier, which is a unique, permanent, alphanumeric string attributed to a digital resource such as a magazine, a scientific article, a report, a video, etc. A DOI provides an unequivocal identification for a document.

F - G - H

Filter: A tool used to refine a search. In general, a filter can limit fields, such as type of document, publication date, language, etc.

Gray literature: Documents that are unpublished or published for a restricted audience, such as conference proceedings, theses, preprints, research reports, administrative reports, etc. These texts, while not confidential, do not go through the traditional publication process and were harder to locate in the past. They are more easily found now thanks to the Internet.

I - J - K - L

Information retrieval tool: Generic term designating different types of research tools including databases and catalogs listing all or a selection of paper and digital documents held in one or more libraries, and which are accessible through a research interface. Retrieval tools allow you to identify documents, determine their format (paper or digital), their location or access mode, and their availability. Swisscovery UNIGE is the Information retrieval tool used at the University of Geneva. It is also called a discovery tool, because from a single search interface you can search for data or documents from publishers, content aggregators, and local sources (library catalogs, institutional repositories, digital collections, etc.).

Interface: A graphical tool that permits interactions between humans and computers. May be comprised of menus, forms, hypertexts, or other elements that add ease of use.

ISBN: Abbreviation for International Standard Book Number. This is an internationally recognized and unique number that identifies every book or edition of a book from a specific publisher.

M - N - O

Mind map: Representation of information in a visual and/or spatial format related to a set of concepts structured and ordered around a central theme.

Monograph: A work in one or more volumes that contains a complete and detailed study of a particular subject. Essentially synonymous with book or volume.

Non-verbal communication: All forms, modes, and channels of communication (conscious or unconscious, voluntary or involuntary) used by individuals to interact without using words. This means of communication, excluding oral and written language, is largely based on body language: facial expressions, gestures and bearing, tone of voice, gaze, etc.

P - Q

Peer review: The review of an article, usually of a scientific nature, by a reading committee composed of experts in the concerned field who evaluate the article prior to its publication. This evaluation step is part of the publication process for scientific journals.

Periodical: Serial publication appearing at more or less regular intervals, generally comprising multiple articles on different topics, and with different content from issue to issue. Each issue is published under the same title and includes a chronological or numerical indication. Issues bring together articles by different authors. Magazines, reviews, and journals are also periodicals.

Plagiarism detection software: An IT tool, also called a similarity detection service or anti-plagiarism software, used to automatically detect similarities between documents produced by students and those produced by other authors and found on the Internet (including pay-walled resources such as digital reviews, databases, etc.) as well as documents uploaded into the software itself (particularly other work by students). The tool compares the documents and finds passages that may have been plagiarized (copy-pasted, or highly similar). Since 2011, UNIGE has recommended the use of the software to its instructors as part of the Directive on student plagiarism.

Plagiarism: According to the Directive on student plagiarism, plagiarism consists of "inserting in one's academic work formulations, phrases, passages, images or whole chapters, as well as ideas or analyses, taken from the work of others and presenting them as one's own. Plagiarism is committed either by actively appropriating the words or ideas of others or by failing to reference them and their sources correctly."

Quality: A characteristic ascribed to a paper or digital document (article, website, etc.) when we are assured of its credibility and reliability via an evaluation process using objective criteria such as the origin and the authority of the source, the process used for validation of information, and/or the structure.

Quotation: Reproduction of a passage from someone else's work in an presentation, a book, or an article. When the passage is cited word-for-word from the original text, it must be placed in quotation marks (" "). The in-text citation is always accompanied by an in-text short-form reference AND a complete reference at the end of the document, in the bibliography/reference list.


Reading notes: A file comprising useful data and information about a document consulted during research. These notes can be more or less comprehensive depending on your needs: complete document references, summary, quotes, critical analysis, etc.

Reference list: see "Bibliography"

Reference work: A document that helps you quickly find a specific piece of information. These include encyclopedias, directories, dictionaries, bibliographies, etc. Reference works are usually not available for checkout and must be consulted at the library. Reference works are increasingly available online.

Relevance: Perceived quality of an online search. Relevance depends on the match between a search query formulated with keywords and the list of results obtained.

Research journal: Methodological tool in the form of a paper or digital document in which one keeps track of all relevant information for maintaining a structured, global overview of a research project. This can be useful when completing a long work of research (thesis, reading report, etc.) for regularly noting down the process and main steps in the research (e.g., research strings and search tools used, etc.) and to keep in mind the references for documents consulted.


Search engine: A program that indexes the content of Internet resources, particularly websites, in order to find information via keywords or natural language and provide access to it.

Search query: Formulation of a research question with keywords linked by logical operators (Boolean operators and filters) with the goal of finding the most relevant documents using a search engine.

Self-citation: Self-citation is the practice of citing a prior publication by oneself as a reference in another article. This is controversial in the science community because some authors abuse the practice in order to artificially inflate their citation numbers and thereby increase their prominence.

Self-plagiarism: Self-plagiarism is reusing part of some earlier work (text, images, etc.) one has authored by inserting it into a new document without citing the source, giving the impression that it is a new, original contribution. Self-plagiarism is considered a violation of academic integrity.


Textbook: An instructional work covering the key aspects of a discipline. It may also be called a "handbook".

Thesaurus: A list of terms chosen and verified by domain specialists and organized hierarchically according to the relationships and associations between the terms. Some search tools allow for the use of a thesaurus for more precise searches.

Truncation: Searching via the root form of a word to retrieve all common variations, such as its singular and plural forms as well as various endings. Truncation symbols vary depending on the interface used. For example, librar* would return hits from library, libraries and librarian.

U - V - W

VPN: Virtual Private Network client software allows access for UNIGE students and staff to licensed article databases, electronic journals, etc., from any computer anywhere on the world. Instructions for activating VPN access are available here (in French).

Webliography: A list of Internet resources (websites or individual web pages) on a particular subject or time period, listed in a specific order.

Work: Any individual creation (literary, artistic, scientific, etc.), such as a book, an article, a movie, a picture, or a sound, whether in print or digital.

WWWWWH: An acronym (Who, What, When, Where, Why, How) used for critical and constructive analysis based on a systematic questioning of concepts for a research topic. It is used to summarize what you know about a field to better identify a topic.

X - Y - Z