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Graduate Studies

A guide to information, resources and services in support of graduate scholarship.

Research-Related Definitions You Need to Know

Abstract: a brief summary of an article. Written by the authors, it usually appears in databases when you click on an article title in the search results but before you download the full text. The abstract is also included on the first page of the full article, before the article's introduction.

Bibliography: a list of all the citations/references you used, included at the end of your paper. In nursing, APA and AMA citation styles are used most often. For more information, see the Cite Right page of this guide. (Note: an annotated bibliography is different from a standard bibliography and includes additional information, such as a summary of each reference. Unless otherwise specified, you need to include only a standard bibliography with your paper. For more information on annotated bibliographies, see the Citations & Plagiarism guide.)

Citation: also known as a reference, a citation contains information on the source(s) you used, such as author(s), title, page numbers (if applicable), etc. Citations are included in the text of your paper whenever you cite or quote, as well as in the bibliography at the end of your paper. In nursing, APA and AMA citation styles are used most often. For more information, see the Cite Right page of this guide.

(To) Cite: to include information in your paper obtained from another source but rewritten in your own words. You need to include a citation when you cite indicating where you obtained the information, as when you quote, but you do not need to use quotation marks or another indicator that the information was written as is by someone else (since you have rewritten it). For more information, see the Cite Right page of this guide.

Evidence-Based Practice: use of research and other evidence to inform clinical care (practice). For more information, see the Evidence Based Nursing Introduction guide by The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Health Sciences Library.

Literature Review: the summary and analysis of existing research on a topic. The introduction sections of research articles (before the Methods section; may be labeled as "Background") are usually literature reviews. Literature reviews may also be an entire paper, as in review articles. For more information, see the The Literature Review: A Research Journey guide by The Harvard Graduate School of Education Gutman Library. (Note: be careful not to confuse a literature review with peer review. They are completely different terms.)

Manuscript: the draft of an article (or other written work) before it is published. Sometimes manuscripts are posted online to meet federal funding (or other) requirements, but they will be clearly marked as such. Look for the published version of the manuscript instead if available, as the manuscript will be an earlier and/or unedited version.

Paraphrase: to rewrite someone else's writing in your own words. You need to cite the original source even though you have rewritten the work in your own words. For more information, see the Plagiarism Prevention guide.

Peer Review: the process by which a manuscript is reviewed by other experts on the topic, who provide feedback and may recommend (or not) that it be published. Many (but not all articles) undergo peer review. Books usually do not. For more information, see the Info.: What is Peer Review? page of this guide. (Note: a work that has undergone peer review before publication is said to be peer-reviewed or refereed. Some databases, such as CINAHL and MEDLINE (ProQuest), will let you limit your results to only peer-reviewed/refereed publications. In addition, be careful not to confuse peer review with a literature review. They are completely different terms.)

Plagiarism: the use of information from another source without providing a citation to indicate where you obtained that information. Whether you paraphrase or quote directly, you must include a citation. Citations are needed for all types of information (including images and videos), not just text. If you do not include a citation, you are plagiarizing. For more information, see the Plagiarism Prevention guide.

Popular Source: a work written by academics/researchers or non-academics/researchers (such as journalists) for the general public. For example, articles published in newspapers and magazines are popular sources. For more information, see the Info.: What is Peer Review? page of this guide.

Primary Source: in the context of health sciences research, a primary source is an article about a study written by the researchers who conducted the study. Look for sections labeled "Methods," "Results," etc. and use of first-person pronouns ("I" or "we"). Not every primary source will contain these sections/pronouns, and non-primary sources may use them as well, but you can use these sections/pronouns as general guidelines. For more information, see the FIU Libraries' Primary Sources guide and the American Journal of Nursing's Primary and Secondary Sources guide (.doc).

(To) Quote: to include information in your paper obtained from another source written in the other authors' own words. You need to include a citation indicating where you obtained the information, and you must use quotation marks or another indicator that the information was written as is by someone else. For more information, see the Cite Right page of this guide.

Qualitative (data): non-numerical data. For more information, see the Info.: Data & Study Types page of this guide.

Quantitative (data): numerical data. For more information, see the Info.: Data & Study Types page of this guide.

Refereed: see the definition for peer review above.

Reference: see the definition for citation above.

Research Article: an article that describes a research study (or a set of studies). Look for sections labeled "Methods," "Results," etc. (Some databases, such as CINAHL, will let you limit your results to only research articles.) For more information, see the What is a Research Article? guide by the Radford University McConnell Library and the Info.: How to Read Articles page of this guide.

Scholarly Source: a work written by academics/researchers for other academics/researchers, not for the general public. For example, articles published in peer-reviewed journals are scholarly sources (though not all scholarly sources are peer reviewed). For more information, see the Info.: What is Peer Review? page of this guide.

Secondary Source: in the context of health sciences research, a secondary source is an article or other written work describing a study conducted by researchers who are not the authors of the work, such as a review article. For more information, see the FIU Libraries' Primary Sources guide and the American Journal of Nursing's Primary and Secondary Sources guide (.doc).

If you are working with research articles, make sure you know the research methods terms located on the guide below as well: