To hint at, insinuate, imply, or suggest. An allusion is a direct or indirect reference that is well-known by the majority of the public. For example, “We are not in Kansas anymore” is an allusion to The Wizard of Oz.


Attractive, tempting, or seductive; to have an appealing and charismatic quality.


Corresponding or related to two ideas. An analogy refers to a comparison made to the similarity between two items, ideas, events, and phenomena. Forrest Gump’s famous saying that “life is like a box of chocolates—you never know what you are going to get” is an example of an analogy.


The process of critically examining, investigating, or interpreting a specific topic or subject matter in order to come to an original conclusion.


A short account or telling of an incident or story, either personal or historical; anecdotal evidence is frequently found in the form of a personal experience rather than objective data or widespread occurrence.


The thing that comes before, events prior to the current event, or the previous item that was mentioned.


A mediator, moderator, or go-between; someone who has the power to pass judgement on an issue.


To be subject to the judgment of a whim, chance, or personal preference; the opposite of a standardized law, regulation, or rule.


A classical Greek philosopher and orator who lived from 384-322 B.C. A student of Plato, he is known for creating his own branch of philosophy known as Aristotelianism which is based on the use of inductive reasoning and deductive logic in order to study nature and natural law. Aristotle also wrote on various subjects including biology, physics, ethics, poetry, politics, linguistics, mathematics, and rhetoric. Aristotle’s rhetorical triangle is based on ethos, pathos, and logos and is considered the basis for understanding the rhetorical situation.


Clear or lucid speech; the expression of an idea in a coherent or logical manner; the communication of a concept in a way that is easily understandable to an audience.


Pronouncement, affirmation, or endorsement; a declaration or statement of belief, usually positive in nature.


Taking something for granted; an expected result; to be predisposed towards a certain outcome.


Occurring at a different time; not occurring at the same time; asynchronous learning refers to work that can be done by a student independently without real-time interaction or guidance from an instructor.


The person or group of people who view and analyze the work of a writer, researcher, or other content creator.


To have a particular opinion or attitude about a subject that is based in feeling, inclination, or tendency rather than researched facts; preconceived notions.


A library catalog is a database of records for the items a library holds and/or to which it has access. Searching a library catalog is not the same as searching the web, even though you may see a similar search box for both tools. Library catalog searches can return information that you would not find on the open web, and the searching process will likely take longer to refine.


The sequence of events that occur linearly or consecutively in time.


Linear or literal time -- usually in contrast to Kairos.


An arguable statement; a point that a writer, researcher, or speaker makes in order to prove their thesis.


To organize or arrange.


A stereotyped or corny phrase, expression, or idea that has lost its original meaning from overuse, usually over a long period of time. The saying “time flies when you’re having fun” is an example of a cliché.


The highest or most intense point in a sequence of events that lead to some resolution, settlement, judgement, or ending; the peak or culmination. In fiction, the climax of a story usually occurs when the characters make the decisions, fight the battle, or enter into the romantic relationship that will impact the ending of that story.


Having awareness.


A logical, rational, lucid, or understandable expression of an idea, concept, or notion; consistent and harmonious explanation.


A form of an analysis that involves original thought, explanation, or critique about an observation made by a commentator (writer, speaker, or other content creator).


To influence or convince; to produce a certain or specific result through the use of force.


An acknowledgement of at least one aspect of the other side of the argument  that admits or accepts validity or legitimacy.


Someone or something that allows something tangible, such as money, or intangible, such as ideas, to go from one place to another; can also indirectly refer to a catalyst for change.


To produce, seemingly out of thin air, an object, idea, or being.


The common understanding of a word’s meaning; the meaning associated with a certain word. The opposite of connotation is denotation which refers to the dictionary definition of a word. For example, “Christmas” is defined as a holiday celebrated on December 25th of every year, but, for most Americans, “Christmas” refers to a holiday season in which carols are sung, eggnog is drunk, families gather together, and gifts are exchanged.


The subject matter; the information contained within a text; the configuration of ideas that make up an argument.


The set of circumstances that frame a particular idea or argument; the background information that is necessary for an audience to know about in order to understand why or how a text was written or produced.

Controlled vocabulary

An agreed-upon term or phrase use to consistently describe an item or concept. For instance, "carbonated beverages" is a controlled vocabulary term for a soda/pop/soft drink.


An intellectual property right whereby the rights holder has the right to copy and distribute, among other rights, original works of authorship that are literary, musical, artistic, or choreographic. There are additional categories of material that are covered as well.


The connection or interrelationship between two or more objects or subjects.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons is a foundation that has developed licenses for copyright holders to share and license their copyrighted works to others under certain terms, such as providing attribution for the work and using it non-commercially.


The measurable achievements that grant someone the authority to discuss, write about, or lecture on a specific topic, idea, or concept; the awarding of privilege to a specific person or group of people based on their accomplishments.


The standards or rules of judgement, grading, or other types of scrutiny.


A database is an organized collection of data in a digital format. Library research databases are often composed of academic publications like journal articles and book chapters, although there are also specialty databases that have data like engineering specifications or world news articles.


Intimidating, threatening, or fear-inducing.


Assertion or announcement of belief, understanding, or knowledge; a formal statement or proclamation.


To ramble, meander, or stray from the topic at hand. A digression is a passage or section or writing that is off topic or does not work toward proving the thesis.


To distinguish, perceive, or figure out usually through intuition, instinct, or inference; to discover information indirectly.


To enter into a dialogue or conversation about a topic; to consider a subject formally in speech or writing. Public discourse refers to the speeches, publications, media attention, social media posts, and other statements that discuss the public good, the function of government, and the role of the individual in society.

Discovery interface

A discovery interface type of library catalog search that appears similar to a search engine. It often searches article databases in addition to catalog holdings such as books and videos.


To analyze closely or minutely; to scrutinize every aspect. Unlike the fields of biology, anatomy, or medicine, in rhetoric and writing, dissect does not refer to the cutting apart of a physical body but to the taking apart the body of an argument or idea piece by piece to understand it better.


To be different, diverse, or dissimilar; to deviate from a plan or practice.


A strong expression or emphasis either in speech, writing, or action.


To occupy or attract the attention of someone or something.


The essence of something; those things that compose the foundational elements of a thing; the basics.


Ethos is a rhetorical appeal that is based on authority or credibility. It can involve the reader evoking their own expertise on a topic or pointing to experts on a topic. Ethos is related to "ethics" and character, in that a speaker or source's reputation determines their credibility. Sometimes ethos-driven appeals can mistakenly rely on false authority; for example, using a celebrity endorsement even though the celebrity has no expertise on the topic. Ethos is one of three types of rhetorical appeals described by the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle.


The urgency of a situation demanding action. In rhetoric, the exigence of a speech or text is the pressing reason or need for the speech or text


Irrelevant, unneeded, or unnecessary.


With regard to texts, format refers to how words and/or images are arranged on a page. With regard to information and library searches, format refers to the medium of the information, such as a book, ebook, article, audio recording, etc.


Involving deception, dishonesty, or duplicity.

Full record

A full record for a library item is all of the bibliographic information entered into the catalog for that particular work. Common entries in a full record will include the name of the work, the author, the publisher, the place of publication, the number of pages, the format, subject terms, and sometimes chapter titles.

Genetic Fallacy

This fallacy claims that an idea or fact or argument is incorrect because the speaker is someone one usually disagrees with -- that the idea is wrong because of the origin of the idea or argument, rather than because it is incorrect or invalid on its own merits. For instance, just because you generally disagree with a politician's policies or ideas doesn't mean that every single thing they say is incorrect or invalid just because it was them who said it. (The idiom often used is "even a stopped clock is right twice a day).

Government documents

Government documents are texts and information produced by government agencies. They can include research data, policy papers, maps, recommendation reports, statistics and forecasts, census and demographic data, meeting transcripts, and more.


Johannes Gutenberg lived from about 1400 to 1468 in Germany. A printer, publisher, inventor, and goldsmith, he is credited with creating the first movable-type printing press in Europe. That is, without Gutenberg’s contributions, printing and publishing in the Western world would not have been possible. The Gutenberg Bible is considered the first printed text in Europe and was produced in the early-to-mid 1450s. Before this, texts had to be hand-copied for public consumption, a timely and expensive process that allowed only the wealthy few access to books.


To be composed or made up of various parts or aspects; the opposite of homogeneous.


A system involving rank. Hierarchical refers to a system that involves a hierarchy. For example, the military is a hierarchical system in which some people outrank others.


To be composed or made up of similar parts or aspects; the opposite of heterogeneous.


Usually the first sentence or portion of a text that is meant to capture the reader’s attention and keep them interested in reading.


A human-centered approach or perspective to an issue.


Also known as the humanities; a branch of learning concerned with answering the question: what does it mean to be human? Or, in other words, an area of study concerned with understanding human beings and their culture. Traditionally, the humanities includes, among others, the areas of history, literature, ethics, fine arts, philosophy, and religious studies.


A phrase that is not traditionally associated with the meaning that the words provide; idioms cannot be literally translated into another language. For example, when someone is “feeling under the weather,” they are feeling ill.


To hint; to suggest indirectly without mentioning the topic explicitly. An implied argument is one that does not obviously appear to be an argument but is nevertheless persuasive.


The person who currently holds an office or position. The term is usually associated with political office.


Without a defined number or limit; unlimited, infinite, or undetermined.

Information dissemination

This is how information is spread throughout a community. Information dissemination is a process, and usually information will be shared with others in changing formats over time.


To give or relay information; explanatory.


To combine, merge, blend, or consolidate different parts to make a whole.


To interrupt, stop, or prevent someone or something from coming to pass or getting from one place to the other.


Ceasing and beginning or stopping and starting in a recurrent, cyclical or periodic pattern.


To reflect or think on one’s self, being, mental, physical, or emotional state insightfully or analytically.


Not relevant; unimportant; beside the point; not relating to the matter at hand.


The specialized language and vocabulary associated with a specific profession, trade, or group of people; words not commonly used outside the context in which they are normally found and with whom they are associated.


Time in a less literal sense; timeliness, or time in context with other events and information


Relating to lines; a way of explaining information logically and/or sequentially; can refer to the chronological relaying of information.

Loaded Language

Loaded language is related to the fallacy of "begging the question." Sometimes begging the question includes using "loaded language" in which word choice has strong connotations or extra meanings that attempt to sway the audience.


Logos is a rhetorical appeal to reason or logic such that the apparent truth of the argument is what is persuasive. It is one of three types of rhetorical appeals described by the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle.


The way in which information is shared; how knowledge is presented to an audience. Examples of different mediums include an essay, article, research paper, video, song, social media post, or painting.


A figure of speech that involves an implied or indirect comparison between two things that are not similar. For example, “you are my sunshine” is a metaphor.


The manner or way in which something is done or completed; method, process, or technique; the form that something takes.


Cloudy, hazy, or murky; ambiguous, imprecise, or vague.

News source

A news source is a story or article that runs in a journalism publication or outlet. News sources tend to be about current events, but there are also opinion pieces and investigative journalism pieces that may cover broader topics over a longer period of time.


Impartiality or fairness; dispassionate or detached. Also refers to the goal, aim, or intention that someone or a group of people hope to achieve.


An event -- in rhetoric, the event or occurrence prompting the creation of a text


To remove, delete, eliminate, leave out, or fail to mention a particular piece of information; can be done intentionally or unintentionally.

Open access

Open access is a term that identifies information that licensed to be available without a fee to the user. Open access content makes information that would commonly be kept behind a paywall available to the public at no cost, and often gives the public rights to use that content in different ways (such as redistribution).  Although many materials are available to view online for free, copyright typically limits how the user can use that content.


An eloquent speaker who seeks to convince the public, usually in a professional capacity. Modern day orators include political and religious leaders. In ancient Greece, an orator was a celebrated public figure who was considered well educated and a master of rhetoric. Oration is a formal public speech usually given in a stylized or elevated manner; examples include a religious sermon, a presidential address, or a graduation speech.


The bounds, limits, or confines of something.


To take someone else’s words or ideas, such as a quotation, and to rephrase it in different words. Unlike a summary which is a holistic view of someone else’s work, a paraphrase refers to a specific part of someone’s work.


Pathos is a rhetorical appeal to a reader's emotion. Although often focused on emotion such as sadness or pity, arguments based on humor or sex appeal also are taking a pathos-driven approach. Pathos can also refer to drawing on shared values and motivations. Pathos is one of three types of rhetorical appeals described by the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle.


A remarkable or notable occurrence or event, especially one that is rare or exceptional in nature. The plural of phenomenon is phenomena.


A classical Greek philosopher and orator who was born in the 420s B.C. and died in 348/347 B.C.; the exact dates of his birth and death are unrecorded. A student of Socrates and the teacher of Aristotle, he is known for his dialogue and dialectic forms in philosophy as well as his theory of Forms. He founded the Academy, the first institution of higher education in Western history. Plato continues to be extremely influential in scholarship today and is considered the founder of Western religious thought and spirituality.


Popular sources are texts that are intended for broad, or popular, audiences. Magazine articles, news stories, blog posts, non-academic books, and podcasts are all examples of popular sources. Popular sources are not peer-reviewed, but some can be high quality.


To present or put forward an idea.


The basic assumptions or understanding on which an argument is based or from which conclusions are drawn. A major premise is a statement of universal truth or common knowledge. A minor premise is a statement related to a major premise but concerns a specific situation.


The method or operation by which something is done or accomplished; a series of continuous actions that result in the achievement of a goal. The writing process refers to the sequence of steps that result in an essay, research paper, or other piece of writing.


The production or presence of large quantities or amounts of something that contain a high quality.


Writing that is produced in sentence form; the opposite of poetry, verse, or song. Some of the most common types of prose include research papers, essays, articles, novels, and short stories.


To be close to, next to, or adjacent to; nearness or closeness.


Research that is based on the interpretation of open-ended, non-numeric data, such as writings, interviews, focus groups, and surveys.


Research that is based on numerical data and analyzing it using statistical or mathematical analyses.


With relation to a database, a query is a call for results. Most times a query is a search term entered into a search box.


Logical, reasonable, or sensible; having good sense; to be sane or lucid; usually refers to a state of mind.


The explanation, justification, or motivation for something; the reasons why something was done.


A counterstatement or counterargument; to offer evidence that opposes the argument that is being made.


A receiver or beneficiary.


A form of returning back to or reoccurrence, usually as a procedure or practice that can be repeated.

Reference librarian

A librarian who specializes in helping the public find information. In academic librarians, reference librarians often have subject specialties.


Repeat, rehash, or restate something that has already been conveyed; to echo a sentiment or idea that was stated earlier in a different way or manner.


Consequences; the impact, usually negative, of an action or event.


To copy, duplicate, or reproduce.

Research methodology

The design of a research study, including its theoretical foundation. This section often includes a description of the research methods, or how the research data was collected and analyzed.


To resound, reverberate, or vibrate; to produce a positive emotional response about a subject.


An altered version of  a written work. Revising means to rewrite in order to improve and make corrections. Unlike editing, which involves minor changes, revisions include major and noticeable changes to a written work.


The explicit set of criteria, point distribution, and expectations set forth by a grader. A rubric is almost always standardized out of fairness for all the people whose work is being graded.


When something is described as scholarly, that means that has been written by and for the academic community. The term scholarly is commonly used as shorthand to indicate that information that has been peer reviewed or examined by other experts of the same academic field or discipline. Sometimes, the terms academic, scholarly, and peer reviewed are confused as synonyms; peer reviewed is a narrower term referring to an item that has been reviewed by experts in the field prior to publication, while academic is a broader term that also includes works that are written by and for academics, but that have not been peer reviewed.

Search engine

An online software tool used to find information on the web. Many popular online search engines return query results by using algorithms to return probable desired information.

Secondary Sources

Sources that provide information on a primary source; the presentation of non-original data; the analysis of someone else’s research.

Senior Thesis

A lengthy research paper written as part of a graduation requirement for someone who is close to completing their undergraduate requirements for their major and is in their final year of undergraduate study. Like a master’s thesis or a doctoral dissertation, a senior thesis is written to demonstrate mastery over specific subject matter.


Sequence; the order in which things occur.


A group of ancient Greek philosophers, rhetoricians, teachers, and orators who were accused by their contemporaries, including Plato, of being more concerned with winning arguments than discussing the truth.


Motionless, inactive, idle, or sluggish; a lack of development, growth, or advancement.


Detached, aloof, apathetic, or unemotional.


The choices that a writer makes in order to make their argument or express their ideas; putting different elements of writing together in order to present an argument. Style refers to the way an argument is framed, written, and presented.


To take the position or side of the subject (rather than the object) which is the one doing the observing (rather than being observed); the belief, preference, or understanding of an individual.


Justify, affirm, or corroborate; to show evidence of; to back up a statement, idea, or argument.


Delicate, faint, or mild; requiring discernment, perception, or awareness to detect.


To express an idea in as few words as possible; concise, brief, or to the point.


A brief and concise statement or series of statements that outlines the main point(s) of a longer work. To summarize is to create a brief and concise statement or series of statements that outlines the main point(s) of a longer work.


The highest level, point, or degree of comparison almost to the point of exaggeration. Examples of words considered superlatives include: magnificent, transcendent, outstanding, peerless, superb, and unparalleled.


A type of logic or reasoning associated with Aristotle involving a conclusion based on statements called premises which lead to a conclusion.  A major premise is a statement of universal truth or common knowledge. A minor premise is a statement related to a major premise but concerns a specific situation. Together, major premises and minor premises form a conclusion. For example, “all dogs are mammals (major premise) and all dogs are mammals (minor premise), so, therefore, all dogs are animals (conclusion).”


The order, pattern, structure, or arrangement of words in a sentence or phrase that is deliberately used by a writer.


The fusion, combination, or integration of two or more ideas or objects that create new ideas or objects.


The Greek term for end goal/purpose, generally used to discuss the ultimate aim of some act or text


Verbal or written proof from an individual; the statement made by a witness that is understood to be truth. Testimony can be a formal process, such as a testimony made in official court proceedings, or an informal process, such as claiming that a company’s product or service works.


A statement, usually one sentence, that summarizes an argument that will later be explained, expanded upon, and developed in a longer essay or research paper. In undergraduate writing, a thesis statement is often found in the introductory paragraph of an essay. The plural of thesis is theses.


The feeling or attitude of the writer which can be inferred by the reader, usually conveyed through vocabulary, word choice, and phrasing; associated with emotion.

Topic Sentence

The sentence that relays the main idea or the point of the paragraph in which it is contained; usually the first sentence of a body paragraph which gives the reader an idea of what ideas will be discussed in that paragraph.

Trade secret

An intellectual property right concerning secret information, including processes, techniques, or formulas, among other things, that has an economic benefit to the rights holder by virtue of it being unknown to others. One might think of soda formulas, for example.


An intellectual property right that relates to a symbol or slogan that represents a company, product, or service.


Qualities, features, or attributes relating to something, particularly personal characteristics.


In writing, transitions refer to words or phrases that help with the flow of an argument; these words and phrases link the ideas in one sentence to those of another sentence.


A stereotypical or predictable literary convention or device such as a plot point (the damsel in distress), a figure of speech (metaphor, idiom, etc.), or theme or motif (red roses represent true love).


Passionate, opinionated, or zealous; demonstrating strong emotions or feelings.


Use of words, particularly referring to the overuse or redundancy of them.


Necessary or critical for existence; indispensable or integral.


An ambiguous or amorphous quality to writing comprising the vocabulary, word choice, tone, point of view, syntax, attitude, emotion, and style of a writer. Because writing is a personal and individual exercise, every writer has their own unique voice.


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Informed Arguments: A Guide to Writing and Research Copyright © 2023 by Terri Pantuso, Sarah LeMire, Kathy Anders, and Kalani Pattison is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.