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Pre-arrival Library Guide: 4. What does that mean?

Get ahead with this brief introduction to the University Library services



We've compiled this list to help introduce you to some of the words or phrases you will encounter while using the university libraries.




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This is a summary of a longer piece of writing, commonly used at the beginning of journal articles. Abstracts help you decide whether or not to read a piece of writing in more detail. When using information for your academic work, you should always read and reference the full article, rather than just the abstract.

Academic Liaison Librarian

Each subject has a Librarian who can provide you tailored support and guidance for your course. They can advise on the resources available, help you to use them effectively and answer any questions you have. You can find out who your Librarian is here.


Plural appendices. This includes supplementary information at the end of a written document. Appendices may include data, tables, technical drawings or calculations.



A bibliography contains a list of all of the sources (e.g. books, journal articles) used in a piece of writing. Bibliographies should detail all the sources that have provided you with information or helped to formulate your ideas, even if you don't directly refer to these in your written work.


Classmark (see also call number)

Libraries use classification schemes to organise their books. Classmarks are used to help you find a book on the shelves. To find out more about how to find books in the library using classmarks, take a look at this guide.

Call number

See classmark.


A citation is a reference to a source of information used in your research. These are usually added within the text of the writing itself, after a direct quote from, or summary of a source of information. Citations will look slightly different depending on the style of referencing used. The University referencing guide provides additional information and examples.

Conference proceeding

A conference proceeding is a paper or poster that has been presented at an academic or professional conference or meeting.Conferences provide opportunities for people to present their research and get feedback from others in their field before formal publication. Conference proceedings are working papers and are not peer-reviewed.


A cookie is a small amount of data generated by a website that is saved to your web browser. They are commonly used by websites to store your login details, so you don't have to enter them each time you visit the site. Sometimes having too many cookies stored in your browser can cause difficulties when accessing Library resources. Error messages like 'Proxy error', 'invalid response', '404 error' or 'The page isn't redirecting properly' can often be caused by cookies on your web browser. These issues can usually be fixed easily by clearing the cookies in your browser. You can find instructions on how to do this here.



A collection of information held in digital format. Databases can contain audiovisual infomation, or collections of journal articles and other academic works. You can access the available databases through the A-Z databases list.

Dewey Decimal System

This is a classification scheme that we use to organise the book in the university libraries. The Dewey Decimal System organises books by subject. Books are given a number (representing the subject) which determines where they are shelved. Books are arranged in numeric order from 000-999. Books classifed using Dewey also have three letters following the number. These letters represent the first three letters of the authors name e.g. 530.143 LAN


A dissertation is an extended essay or written-up research project submitted for a university degree. 

Document delivery (see also inter-library loan)

This is a service that can help you access material not available through the university library. Library staff can make requests to other libraries on your behalf for books, articles and chapters. Many journal articles and chapters can be sent to you by email. More information is on our Document Delivery page.




This refers to complete online journal article, rather than just the abstract. Full-text articles are usually available to download as well as read online. You can find tips for accessing full-text content here.




Inter-library loan 

See document delivery.



Journals are publications of scholarly research and writing. They are published regularly throughout the year. Each issue contains articles covering areas of current interest. Journals are available in print and online formats. You can browse the online journals we have access to here.



Library Champion

Library Champions are student volunteers who play an important role in both advocating the library to students and staff, and collating feedback and suggestions from fellow students on how the library services can be improved. More information can be found here.


LibGuides are short guides that provide information on Library resources and services. They are our webpages where we provide online help and support. There is a LibGuide for each subject taught at the university where you will find useful resources and tailored support. Browse all of the LibGuides here.

Library Search

Library Search is our online catalogue. You can use this to see if books or journals are available through the Library. You can also search for articles and other digital resources.


Moys Classification Scheme

This is the classification scheme used to organise the books in the Laosk Law Library (housed in the Forum Library, Streatham Campus). Books are given a letter(s) (representing the subject) which determines where they are shelved. Books are arranged in numeric order e.g. KL 149.

Multi-factor authentication

Multi-factor authentication is used to protect your university account. You will be asked to regularly verify you are who you say you are when you login. You can find out more information and get support here.



Open access

Open access is a publishing model that makes research information available without cost to the reader. When researchers make their research available open access, it increases the visibility of their research. Research can be made open access in selected academic journals by the authors paying a fee, or by authors submitting the accepted version of their research into a repository.

Open Athens

Open Athens is a authentication service used by many organisations including the NHS to provide access to information resources. Healthcare students at the University are likely to have access to an Open Athens account during their course which provides access to core NHS content. Placement students can register for a Open Athens account with the Trust they are placed with to access additional content provided by that Trust.

ORE (Open Research Exeter)

Open Research Exeter (ORE) is the University of Exeter’s open access repository for storing, preserving and sharing the research outputs of the University. Each publication in ORE has a unique persistent identifier (URI or handle), providing secure and permanent access. All research outputs produced by University of Exeter researchers should be uploaded to ORE.



Many journal articles go through a process called 'peer-review' before they are published. Peer-review is a process whereby publications are viewed and critiqued by experts in the subject area. This aim of this process is to ensure that research is well conducted and published works have credibility.



A key academic process where authors acknowledge all sources of information used in their work through citations, bibliographies and reference lists. Information on how to reference at the university is available here.



Shibboleth is an authentication method that the Library uses to provide access to many online resources. This is linked to your University email and password. Help accessing resources using Shibboleth can be found here.


SCONUL Access is a cooperative library scheme which allows many university library users to borrow or use books and journals at other libraries which belong to the scheme. This scheme may be helpful if you are based outside of Exeter during the holidays or at other points during the academic year. More information can be found here.

Single sign-on (SSO)

Single sign-on is an authentication process that allows you to access multiple resources or services with the same username and password. Here in Exeter, this uses your IT username and password.

Sensus access

SensusAccess is a self-service solution that automates the conversion of documents into a range of alternative formats including digital Braille, MP3, DAISY and e-books. The service can also be used to convert otherwise inaccessible documents such as image-only PDF files or scanned images into more accessible formats. Learn more here.



A thesis or dissertation is a written document submitted written by a candidate for a university degree, presenting the author’s research and findings. In the UK the word 'thesis' is usually used when referring to the written work completed for a doctoral degree.



The UniCard is issued to all staff and students at the University of Exeter. It is a photographic identification card which acts as your Library card; identifies you as a member of the University, and provides access to buildings and printers on campus.


VPN (Virtual Private Network)

VPNs provide access the university network from home or any other location with an internet connection. You should not need to use a VPN to access Library resources as they are made available to you off campus using your university IT username and password.


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