A monograph is a specialist work of writing (in contrast to reference works) or exhibition on a single subject or an aspect of a subject, often by a single author or artist, and usually on a scholarly subject.
In library cataloging, monograph has a broader meaning, that of a nonserial publication complete in one volume (book) or a definite number of volumes. Thus it differs from a serial publication such as a magazine, journal, or newspaper. In this context only, books such as novels are monographs.
The term "monographia" is derived from the Greek mono- ("single") and grapho ("to write"), meaning "writing on a single subject". Unlike a textbook, which surveys the state of knowledge in a field, the main purpose of a monograph is to present primary research and original scholarship ascertaining reliable credibility to the required recipient. This research is presented at length, distinguishing a monograph from an article. For these reasons, publication of a monograph is commonly regarded as vital for career progression in many academic disciplines. Intended for other researchers and bought primarily by libraries, monographs are generally published as individual volumes in a short print run.
In Britain and the U.S., what differentiates a scholarly monograph from an academic trade title varies by publisher, though generally it is the assumption that the readership has not only specialized or sophisticated knowledge but also professional interest in the subject of the work.
Book publishers use the term "artist monograph" to indicate books dealing with a single artist, as opposed to broader surveys of art subjects.
In biological taxonomy, a monograph is a comprehensive treatment of a taxon. Monographs typically review all known species within a group, add any newly discovered species, and collect and synthesize available information on the ecological associations, geographic distributions, and morphological variations within the group. See this reference as an example.
In the context of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation, monographs represent published standards by which the use of one or more substances is automatically authorized. For example, the following is an excerpt from the Federal Register: "The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is issuing a final rule in the form of a final monograph establishing conditions under which over-the-counter (OTC) sunscreen drug products are generally recognized as safe and effective and not misbranded as part of FDA's ongoing review of OTC drug products." Such usage has given rise to the use of the word monograph as a verb, as in "this substance has been monographed by the FDA".
'[M]onograph' has become a catch-all term for a book that is not of a reference type, that is of primary material.