Research and Academics Glossary

Created by UCLA Undergraduate Research Center: Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, Kian Ravaei, Doug Worsham

Note: This page is being continually updated with new content! If you would like to request a definition, use the form at the bottom of the page!


An abstract summarizes, usually in one paragraph of 300 words or less, the major aspects of the entire paper in a prescribed sequence that includes 1) the overall purpose of the study and the research problem(s) you investigated; 2) the basic design of the study; 3) major findings or trends found as a result of your analysis; and, 4) a brief summary of your interpretations and conclusions.

"Stigma and social inequality deprive disadvantaged social groups of a sense of social well-being. Stress researchers have focused on prejudice-related events and conditions but have not described more intangible stressors experienced by sexual minorities. We use narrative methods to examine how sexual minorities experience stigma and social inequality as we focus on the more intangible stressors that are both pervasive and difficult to measure. Three themes emerged in the narratives of our ethnically diverse sample of 57 adult sexual minority women and men: (a) stigma deprived them of access to critical possibilities and opportunities; (b) stigma deprives them of safety and acceptance; and (c) despite this, the experience of stigma is also related to the adoption of a positive and collective orientation towards their stigmatized identities. Recognizing these stressors and related resilience can direct policy makers toward interventions that go even beyond eliminating prejudice by including goals to strengthen minority communities."

('"We'd Be Free": Narratives of Life Without Homophobia, Racism, or Sexism' by Ilan H. Meyer, Suzanne C. Ouellette, Rahwa Haile, and Tracy A. McFarlane)

Academic conference

An event for researchers to present and discuss their recent work. It is often a part of an academic professional association’s annual meeting.

"I’m looking forward to presenting my work and hearing about the work of other researchers at the National Conference for Undergraduate Research, an academic conference about the improvement, management, and promotion of undergraduate research."

Action Research

Action research conducted to solve problems, inform policy, or improve the way that issues are addressed and problems solved. There are two broad types of action research: participatory action research and practical action research.


Supplementary material usually attached at the end of a piece of writing.

Article database

Searchable collection of multiple academic journals or other media that are usually used to find relevant existing research (secondary sources) on a topic. Some databases, like JSTOR, search across multiple disciplines, whereas some, like PubMed, are specific to certain fields. Online databases accessible through the UCLA Library are available by searching on the library homepage.

"The PhilPapers article database is a great place to find academic articles about philosophy."

Artist Statement

An artist’s statement is a text that describes their work and gives the viewer an understanding of its context. The statement is not one size fits all; rather, will likely be revised many times throughout an artist’s lifetime to fit the needs of the environments in which it will be displayed, which include galleries, applications, and press releases.


Influences that distort the results of a research study.

Case study

The collection and presentation of detailed information about a particular participant or small group, frequently including data derived from the subjects themselves.

Citation manager

Citation programs that allow you to collect, organize, and retrieve citation information from books, articles and websites and assist in inserting properly formatted footnotes or citations and bibliographies into a research paper.

"My citation manager of choice is Zotero, but some of my colleagues prefer EndNote or Mendeley."

Citation style

A set of rules on how to cite sources in academic writing. The three most common types include MLA, APA, and Chicago.

"The essay prompt says to use the MLA 8 citation style."


A statement, similar to a hypothesis, which is made in response to the research question and that is affirmed with evidence based on research.

Cluster analysis

A statistical method for processing data. It works by organizing items into groups, or clusters, on the basis of how closely associated they are.

"We can conduct a cluster analysis to find out which flowers belong to the same species."

Cohort analysis

Group by group analytic treatment of individuals having a statistical factor in common to each group. Group members share a particular characteristic (e.g., born in a given year) or a common experience (e.g., entering a college at a given time).


A research condition in which no one except the researcher(s) knows the identities of the participants in a study. It refers to the treatment of information that a participant has disclosed to the researcher in a relationship of trust and with the expectation that it will not be revealed to others in ways that violate the original consent agreement, unless permission is granted by the participant.

Confirmability objectivity

The findings of the study could be confirmed by another person conducting the same study.

Contract course

Supervised individual research or investigation under guidance of faculty member, with a culminating paper or project.

Control Group

In an experiment, the control group does not receive the intervention or treatment under investigation. This group may also be referred to as the comparison group.

Creative Inquiry

Creative inquiry is the process of exploring issues, objects or works through the collection and analysis of evidence including combining or synthesizing existing ideas, products, or expertise in original ways to answer an open-ended question or achieve a desired goal.

Curriculum vitae

A curriculum vitae, also called a vita or CV, is similar to a résumé and provides key information about your skills, education, and experience to a potential employer. A CV is typically used to apply for academic and research positions and for some graduate programs. It is longer than a résumé and displays academic credentials and accomplishments in greater detail.

Check out this CV from Jen, a past member of the WI+RE team! Link to Jen's CV


A database is a usually large collection of data organized especially for rapid search and retrieval (as by a computer).


Specific area of study; formally organized body of knowledge.

My discipline is comparative literature.


An extended usually written treatment of a subject - specifically one submitted for a doctorate.

Double-blind review

A form of peer-review when both the reviewer and author identities are concealed from the reviewers, and vice versa, throughout the review process.

Empirical Research

The process of developing systematized knowledge gained from observations that are formulated to support insights and generalizations about the phenomena being researched.


A method to study groups and/or cultures over a period of time. The goal of this type of research is to comprehend the particular group/culture through immersion into the culture or group. Research is completed through various methods but, since the researcher is immersed within the group for an extended period of time, more detailed information is usually collected during the research.

Faculty-initiated project

Working on a faculty-initiated project gives you the chance to help a faculty member on a research project. A great resource for finding faculty-initiated projects is the Undergraduate Research Portal. In addition, you could ask your professors and TAs about available research opportunities.

"I’m hoping to join a faculty-initiated research project in Ecology so I can gain some research experience before embarking on my own projects."

Field studies

Academic or other investigative studies undertaken in a natural setting, rather than in laboratories, classrooms, or other structured environments.


The structure and support that may be used as both the launching point and the on-going guidelines for investigating a research problem.

Graduate record exam

The Graduate Record Examination, or GRE, is an important step in the graduate school or business school application process. The GRE is a multiple-choice, computer-based, standardized exam that is often required for admission to graduate programs and graduate business programs (MBA) globally.

"Some graduate programs require GRE scores, while others do not."

Honors collegium

The Honors Collegium is a series of courses with an interdisciplinary emphasis designed for students enrolled in College Honors, but not necessarily limited to students in College Honors. It encourages animated discussion among students, as well as between students and professors and seeks to promote scholarly exchange across the major disciplines at UCLA.

"I fulfilled my Writing II requirement by taking an interdisciplinary Honors collegium course on Nabokov and Theory of Mind." — Kian, fourth-year UCLA undergraduate


A hypothesis is a prediction about the outcome of a study that is stated in sentence form.

Interdisciplinary research

Interdisciplinary research is a mode of research by teams or individuals that integrates information, data, techniques, tools, perspectives, concepts, and/or theories from two or more disciplines or bodies of specialized knowledge to advance fundamental understanding or to solve problems whose solutions are beyond the scope of a single discipline or area of research practice.


Intersectionality is an analytical framework for understanding how aspects of a person's social and political identities combine to create different modes of discrimination and privilege.


Keywords are important words/concepts found in your research question, topic, or thesis. A quick way to pull keywords from a research question is to choose the most important nouns. Using keywords to search will retrieve more results than searching for long phrases or vague, overly broad topics.

Life History

A record of an event/events in a respondent's life told (written down, but increasingly audio or video recorded) by the respondent from his/her own perspective in his/her own words. A life history is different from a 'research story' in that it covers a longer time span, perhaps a complete life, or a significant period in a life.

Literature review

A literature review discusses published information in a particular subject area, and sometimes information in a particular subject area within a certain time period. It can be just a simple summary of the sources, but it usually has an organizational pattern and combines both summary and synthesis.

Margin of error

The permittable or acceptable deviation from the target or a specific value. The allowance for slight error or miscalculation or changing circumstances in a study.


An analysis combining the results of several studies that address a set of related hypotheses.


Research methodology is the specific procedures or techniques used to identify, select, process, and analyze information about a topic. In a research paper, the methodology section allows the reader to critically evaluate a study’s overall validity and reliability. It answers two main questions - How was the data collected or generated? How was it analyzed?


Also known as academic minor. The academic minor comprises a designated group of classes in a discipline that is outside the major field(s). Minors typically consist of a minimum of 18 credit hours and are not required to obtain a degree.

"My major is in Psychology and my minor is in Professional Writing." List of all minors at UCLA

Mixed methods

The creation of a physical or computer analogy to understand a particular phenomenon. Modeling helps in estimating the relative magnitude of various factors involved in a phenomenon. A successful model can be shown to account for unexpected behavior that has been observed, to predict certain behaviors, which can then be tested experimentally, and to demonstrate that a given theory cannot account for certain phenomenon.


A research approach that uses two or more methods from both the quantitative and qualitative research categories. It is also referred to as blended methods, combined methods, or methodological triangulation.

Oral presentation

A short talk on one’s research (or that of a research team), most often for the purposes of sharing findings and receiving feedback from peers and colleagues during an academic conference or symposium.

"I’m giving an oral presentation on gender representation in comic books at an academic conference."

Peer review

A process of subjecting an author’s scholarly work, research or ideas to the scrutiny of others who are experts in the same field.


As the approach to teaching, the theory and practice of learning and how this process influences, and is influenced by, the social, political and psychological development of learners. Pedagogy is the practice of considering the interactions that take place during learning.


The highest university degree that is conferred after a course of study by a university. Because it is an earned research degree, those studying for a PhD are usually required to produce original research, normally in the form of a thesis or dissertation, and defend their work against experts in the field. The completion of a PhD is often a requirement for employment as a university professor, researcher, or scientist in many fields. Individuals who have earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree may, in many jurisdictions, use the title Doctor (often abbreviated Dr or Dr.) with their name.


Positionality is the notion that personal values, views, and location in time and space influence how one understands the world. In this context, gender, race, class, and other aspects of identities are indicators of social and spatial positions are not fixed, given qualities. Positions act on the knowledge a person has about things, both material and abstract. Consequently, knowledge is the product of a specific position that reflects particular places and spaces.

Positionality statement

A positionality statement is a description of an author's in society, especially as it relates to a particular project.