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Library FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions about library services and resources. If you have additional questions please call 402-354-7251 or email


Abstract: An abstract is a summary of a paper, article, document or book. It presents the objective, methods, results, and conclusions of a research project.

Boolean Logic: Often seen as “AND”, “OR”, and “NOT”, this system of logic allows you to narrow or expand your search by combining different keywords.

Citation: A citation is a reference to a published item containing enough information to uniquely identify the item, e.g., author, title, source, volume, issue, page numbers, etc.

Controlled Vocabulary: A controlled vocabulary is a list of uniform words and phrases used by indexers to describe the subject content of an article, dissertation, or other publication. The terms that make up a controlled vocabulary are called subject headings. Controlled vocabulary terms accurately describe what an article is about even if the terms themselves do not appear in the document's text. E.g. Myocardial Infarction is part of CINAHL's controlled vocabulary that groups together all articles about heart attack whether the author uses the term heart attack, m.i., or myocardial infarction.

Database: A database contains individual records, including abstracts and full-text articles, and includes useful search tools. Many databases can only be accessed through a paid subscription (such as through the library). You can reach databases by clicking Find Articles.

Embargo: An embargo is a period of time during which a publisher does not allow access to its online content. This is usually indicated with a message about a subscription lacking the last 12 months.

Explode: Often seen in CINAHL, if you see a subject heading, you will retrieve all the documents indexed with that heading.

Field: Usually referred to as a “search field,” this selects a section of an item record to search, such as author, title, source, subject headings, etc.

ILL: An acronym for Interlibrary Loan. ILL is a service through which users of one library can borrow books and other media items or receive copies of journal articles from another library. It is offered free of charge at John Moritz Library. Costs are involved only when the lending library charges a fee, but we are highly successful in obtaining items from free sources.

Index.: An index is a list of the specific content of a publication, whether a book, journal, or database.

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN): ISSN is a unique eight-digit number that identifies either a print or an electronic periodical publication.

Keyword: A keyword search finds those words in fields that have descriptive content, i.e. title, subject headings, and abstract. A keyword search is most useful when there is no subject heading for your topic; when the subject heading is too broad; or when you are searching for a concept new to the literature.

Limiters: Limiters enable you to narrow the focus of your search. Examples include: Peer-reviewed, date range or publication date, methodology, journal subset, etc.

Major Concept: When you tell CINAHL you want your selected subject heading to be a major concept, you ensure that the concept is a focal point of the document.

Peer-Reviewed or Refereed Journals: Articles that are reviewed by experts prior to publication in scholarly journals as a mechanism for judging their quality. To be accepted for publication, an author must submit his or her article to be reviewed, usually anonymously, by a panel of experts in the field or by the journal's editorial board.

Proximity Searching: A search technique used to find two or more words that occur within a specified number of words of each other in a record. The proximity operators are n (near) andw (within) and a number that specifies the number of words apart. For example, N4 finds the words within four words of each other regardless of the order in which they appear. W6 finds the words within six words of each other and in the order in which you entered them. Here is a good example. If you wanted to find information on sterile environments, a proximity search would allow you to find information in which the word "sterile" is not directly next to "environment" in the author's phrasing. An article containing the phrase "An environment that is not sterile" contains both "environment" and "sterile" although they are not directly next to each other. Some people never use proximity searching and still find excellent results while others use it very effectively.

Publication Type: Classifies a document as to the type of publication it is (book chapter, dissertation, poetry); the format of the item (editorial, research, review); or to indicate the presence of special data (care plan, questionnaire/scale, practice guidelines). You can refine your search results by limiting your search to one or more publication types.

Review: An article or book that examines published literature on a subject and provides a synthesis of research on the topic at that point in time.

Research: A publication that attempts to produce new findings using established research processes and methods. Research may be published in (but is not limited to) journal articles, dissertations, or systematic reviews.

Subject Heading: A word or phrase indicating the subject under which all material dealing with the same topic is categorized in an arranged file such as a database.

Subheading: Subheadings are qualifiers added to CINAHL subject headings to refine their scope of content. Each available subheading has a scope note that defines its use. E.g. use the subheading ethnology to focus on the ethnic, cultural, anthropological, or racial aspects, of a disease process or any other subject heading to which ethnology can apply.

Tree View or Tree Display: The Tree Display is a visual representation that illustrates the relationships among a hierarchy of subjects.  The tree structure shows the selected term in the context of its conceptually broader and narrower terms.

Truncation: Truncation is a search technique used to retrieve variants of a word. In CINAHL, truncation is represented by an asterisk (*). E.g. if you search for librar*, the system will find entries containing library, libraries, librarian, and librarians. 

Used For: Located in the CINAHL subject heading display, "Used For" suggests synonyms that your subject heading is also used to describe.


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