Glossary of terms for academic writing

This page provides a list of terms with definitions that we often use in academic writing. You will also find links to more information. Know that your teachers can use other definitions or have other objectives then these described below.

Norsk versjon: Ordliste for oppgaveskriving

See also: Academic writing

Academic essay #

A reflective text about a situation/conflict/subject. The goal is to describe and analyse a problem. Allows for a more personal style than in an article, but the same academic standards apply.

Article #

A structured text about an academic subject, requiring certain structure and referencing.

Database #

A structured collection of data. Often a specific database where one finds searchable scientific and academic articles about a specific topic.

Electronic Journal #

Journals published in electronic format. Usually the articles are available as a text file or in PDF format. You get access to the articles through the library’s subscription databases. You can search articles directly in the databases or via Oria or Google Scholar.

Empirical data #

Data that you have acquired yourself, for example from surveys or interviews.

EndNote #

A reference tool program that enables you to organize your references. More about EndNote.

Peer Reviewed #

A process where articles are assessed and approved by experts in the subject before publication (Dalland 2007).

Academic Journal #

A journal that publishes articles from a particular subject area/ profession, e.g. "Radiography". The journal has an educated editor, but there is no overall peer-review process. Usually the journal publishes a combination of scholarly articles and scientific articles. Great for keeping yourself updated on your subject area but not as a source in larger papers, for example your bachelor thesis (Dalland 2007, p. 78).

Harvard reference style #

An author-date reference style often used at NTNU. In-text referencing consist of author’s surname and year of publication. It can for example be: (Hansen 2009). More about using the Harvard referencing style.

Critically evaluate sources #

To evaluate and assess the literature you are using. Usual questions one asked himself when evaluating sources are: What kind of text is this? Who wrote it? Who is the text written for? Why is the author writing about this? What is the purpose of the text? (Dalland 2007, p. 74). More about critically evaluating sources.

Encyclopedia #

Reference work. Can be useful when looking for a definition or basic information about a specific subject. Encyclopedias can be printed or electronic, but the electronic ones have the advantage of being able to link to sources that can be useful and relevant to the subject.

Literature reference #

A pointer to a literature you have used as a source in your text. More about using sources.

Bibliography/Reference list #

A list of the sources you have used in your text. More about using sources.

Literature review #

A comprehensive study and interpretation of a literature that relates to a particular subject area or topic (Aveyard 2007, p. 1).

MeSH #

Medical Subject Headings – a controlled list of medical subject headings used by many databases. The list is available at U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Method #

A procedure used to acquire data/documents. Usually are methods divided into two main categories: qualitative and quantitative. Read more about this in e.g.: Dalland (2007).

Browser #

A software program than enables you to use the Internet. Examples of browsers: Firefox, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer.

Oria #

Our library catalogue. Search for author’s name, title or keywords and retrieve lists of books and journal articles we have available.

Original article #

Research articles published for the first time, i.e. new data (Dalland 2007, p. 78).

Review article #

Evaluates published studies and include summary of the results and conclusions and broader perspectives to a new subject area (Kilvik & Lamøy 2007, p. 18). 


Stands for Portable Document Format. It means in practice that the text or document in PDF format is a picture and therefore non-editable.

PICO - form #

PICO (Patient, Intervention, Comparison, Outcome) - form is a tool used to define an academic question/research question (Nortvedt 2008, p. 29).

Pullprint #

The printer system at NTNU. You are printing to a queue, not one particular printer. Use your student card on any printer to retrieve your print. See the IT services overview of printers.

Primary source #

Where the author presents his/her own research (Dalland 2007)

Problem/ research question #

A question asked with a particular purpose and so precisely that it can be answered. (Dalland 2007, p. 16)

Reference style #

It is important to cite the sources you use in your paper or scientific text to show the reader where you found the information, thus ensuring academic integrity. How to write the references depends on your chosen reference style. See more about this on the page: “How to manage references”.

Secondary source #

Where the author interprets other`s texts (Dalland 2007) A typical example is when they reference other author`s works in their own text.

Systematic search/ systematic review article #

A review article where the author has used a systematic, open process to retrieve articles. Often known by its’ comprehensive and referenced search strategy, distinct inclusion and exclusion criteria, assessment of quality of included literature, keeping protocol of characteristic lines and comparison of results from included studies/ literature (Nortvedt 2010)

Search documentation #

Often used to account for how you have done to find articles and other documents used in your assignments. Many use a form to document their search (search strings). Some academic databases document your search in history.

Search engine #

A program designed to locate websites and to rank them from what it sees as relevant. Examples of search engines: Google search, Yahoo search,, Google scholar etc.

Printed journals #

Journal published on paper. Various libraries have various rules with borrowing and copy requests from a printed journal. Contact your library if we do not have online access to a journal.

Semi-systematic search/semi-systematic review article #

A review article that addresses and critically assesses research that has been published in scholarly journals (Dalland 2008, s. 79), but does not necessarily include the same demands of search strategy documentation and selections as systematic review articles.

Vancouver reference style #

A numbered citation style. In-text citation consist only of a number that represents a source in the bibliography, e.g. (1). More about using the Vancouver reference style.

Scholarly article #

An article that has been through a quality process, usually peer-reviewed (see: peer-review)

Scholarly article #

An article that has been through a quality process, usually peer-reviewed (see: peer-review)


Using VPN (virtual private network), you can connect to the NTNU network and access internal resources like electronic journals and articles via Oria, your home directory or other NTNU network directories from elsewhere. Get help installing VPN to your machine.


Contact  #

Follow our Innsida channel “Nytt fra Universitetsbiblioteket” (“News from the University Library”)

0 Vedlegg
13037 Visninger
Gjennomsnitt (0 Stemmer)