Lingua Franca: How We Used Analytics to Describe Databases in Student Speak

Document Type


Publication Date



Publisher descriptions of library databases are often long and complex, and they don’t conform to students’ mental models. Novice student researchers lack a big-picture understanding of research, and they may find the jargon used by database producers to be a major barrier. This can unintentionally cause extraneous cognitive load for students who encounter these database descriptions on a LibGuide. To address this problem, librarians at Loyola Marymount University’s (LMU) William H. Hannon Library combined data from established LibGuides best practices with student vocabulary mined from our own reference chat transcripts to design a new format for database descriptions that is more student-friendly. This article discusses the process for developing and testing the new format for database descriptions, as well as how it was implemented across all LibGuides.