LIBR 244-10
Online Searching
Summer 2010 Greensheet

Amelia Kassel
Virtual Office: Contact via e-mail

Greensheet Links
Course Requirements
Other Requirements
ANGEL Tutorials
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The Greensheet is a course syllabus and may be revised before or during the semester.

The first day of class is Monday, June 7th.  The class is completely online via Angel. Enroll at the Angel site between Friday, June 4 and Tuesday, June 8th.  You will need an access code, which will be sent to all registered students on Thursday, June, 3rd.  Late enrollments are not accepted.

Course Description

This course introduces students to search techniques and content for fee-based databases contained in Dialog, Factiva, and LexisNexis, known in the traditional information industry as the Big Three aggregators and also considered part of the Deep Web. These search systems are particularly useful to information professionals in corporations, government agencies, law firms, and other business settings because of powerful search capabilities, diverse sources that are searchable across multiple databases at one time, and precision search features that enhance productivity.  The knowledge gleaned from this course is applicable in any setting where librarians answer questions, conduct research, or train others how to search, including public, school, academic, and special libraries.  Learning how to formulate search strategies within the Big Three builds a solid foundation for achieving better search results when using a range of subscription search systems offered by libraries as well as for searching the Internet. 

Through readings, discussions, and exercises, students will work with and compare the Big Three to Internet search engines, tools, and sources.  Course topics include the history of the online information industry, current trends, and pricing issues.

Prerequisite: LIBR 202

Course Objectives

LIBR 244 supports the following SLIS Core Competencies:

  • Design, query and evaluate information retrieval systems;
  • Demonstrate proficiency in the use of current information and communication technologies, and other related technologies, as they affect the resources and uses of libraries and other types of information providing entities.

In addition, this section supports the following SLIS Core Competencies:

  • Use service concepts, principles and techniques that facilitate information access, relevance, and accuracy for individuals or groups of users;
  • Demonstrate oral and written communication skills necessary for group work, collaborations and professional level presentations.

Student Learning Outcomes
Students will learn:

  • The basics of three major fee-based aggregator systems including:
    • Content, search language, and syntax
    • Effective search strategies and techniques
    • The value and role of fee-based database aggregators in obtaining precision results quickly and efficiently
    • How knowledge of database aggregator systems increases the quality of Internet research
  • Quality Internet search tools and techniques
  • Ideas and skills applicable to assisting and training end users

Course Requirements

Students are expected to check Angel daily and stay up-to-date with all discussion threads. Students are required to complete the following assignments:

  • Readings:  Read required books and articles, some of which will be assigned throughout the semester.
  • Online Discussion: Students are required to participate minimally one time a week in online discussions via Angel, by adding thoughtful, substantive comments or questions that relate to the reading material and other assignments and to interact with other students.  Detailed class discussion requirements will be posted to Angel.  Class discussion participation is 20% of the grade. Lack of satisfactory participation will automatically result in a grade below a B.
  • Exercises: A series of questions in which you perform online searches will be posted on Angel with specific instructions about each assignment.
  • Final Research Report:  Prepare a formal report of eight to ten pages in length on a current online research topic of interest to you. Follow APA style and all the rules of good grammar and syntax. Use Times Roman 12 or Arial 11 typeface and double space your report.  Include an abstract and label your submission with the paper title and your name.  The final research report is due the last day of class, August 12th and should be submitted in a Word file to me via email at Include a bibliography of sources with at least five citations within the past two years to current.  While other sources are acceptable, you're expected to use the databases and sources learned during the semester to research your final report.  If Big Three sources do not produce information on your topic but other sources do, provide an introduction with an explanation of your search approach, an appendix with search strategies, and why sources did not meet your research needs.

Exercise Schedule

Exercise 1 Due June 21, 2010
Exercise 2 Due July 6, 2010
Exercise 3 Due July 19, 2010
Exercise 4 Due August 2, 2010
Exercise 5 Due August 12, 2010

Late Assignments
Late assignments are not accepted with some exceptions.  If you have an illness (a medical certificate must be supplied) or a family tragedy, please contact the instructor.  No incompletes will be awarded, no exceptions.

Grading Policy
Completing all assignments accurately and on time and participating in class discussion, minimally once per week, will earn a grade of B. To raise this grade, you will need to demonstrate above average creativity, imagination, analysis, and scholarship including:

  • Originality in the approach to assignments
  • Greater depth of analysis than assignments call for
  • Superior organizational and/or written skills in the presentation of the material

Scores are assigned to each required category:

Exercises 12 Points Each for a Total of 60 points
Participation in Online Discussion 20 points
Final Research Paper or Project 20 points

Grading for exercises is based on a combination of:

  • Following all instructions.
  • Evidence that you’re learning basic commands and syntax, reflected in your work.
  • Your comments contained in a summary that includes an analysis of your thought process, strategies, findings, and lessons learned. 
  • You must integrate what you have learned from readings and class discussion within your summaries and cite your sources. Summaries are to be written in a narrative format.  Bullets or numbered sections within the narrative are acceptable.  The summaries should be a minimum of two to three paragraphs in length or more.
  • Finding relevant results.
  • Evidence of experimenting with varying search strategies.
  • Grading incorporates consideration of creativity, thoroughness, thoughtfulness, and originality.

Successful course participants will:

  • Post a brief bio and statement of purpose during the first week of class.
  • Read the required textbooks and other assignments.
  • Initiate discussions and contribute postings, minimally once weekly, with substantive and analytical comments and questions.
  • Integrate knowledge from readings and class discussion into all assignments by quoting or citing sources.

Other Requirements

The following are high quality guides from the major vendors we'll study this semester.  Read or scan through these and refer back to them as needed.  All of the items can be downloaded at no charge.

Dialog offers a range of instructional materials through its Graduate Education Program at  Review available sources and select those most useful to you.  I've listed those I consider key below but students may find others useful too and may post comments to the Angel discussion board to discuss with one another.

LexisNexis (available on Angel in the Course Documents area for this course). Inside Out Guide (available on Angel in the Course Documents area).

Additional Readings

Additional Comments

  1. This is a technical course that requires consistent and regular attention to all discussion and continuous preparation and effort – no exceptions.
  2. In a survey of 43 students asking for the number of hours spent on this class, 24 responded. About 60% spent between 4 and 12 hours per week; about 30% spent 12 or more hours; 5% spent 2-4 hours and 5% spent 20-25 hours.
  3. Students taking more than one or two courses and having other responsibilities may find this course too time-consuming to adequately meet all requirements for an A and several students have had problems earning a B grade. Lack of satisfactory participation in class discussion results in a grade lower than a B.
  4. All students are graded on the same basis regardless of workload, personal, medical, or technical problems, which are each student’s responsibility.
  5. Extra credit assignments are not accepted.
  6. Because there are many search questions used to teach this course and there isn’t necessarily one correct answer or approach to online research, students will be required to read and study documents titled Exercise Tips, Corrections, and Comments after completing Dialog exercises.  Other exercises will be discussed during Class Discussion, both before and after assignments as needed.
  7. One-on-one answers returned by email are not provided. If a student continues to have questions about his/her work, post to class discussion or if questions are of a personal nature, a student may email me at
  8. Students are encouraged to post and describe your search methods on Angel discussion forums including Q&A about exercise questions.  This creates a valuable synergy that benefits all.
  9. Please make yourself aware of SJSU drop dates and policies. Even if past the regular drop date, it may be better to drop late than receive a grade below a B.


Required Textbook:

  • Hock, R. (2010). The Extreme Searcher's Internet Handbook (3rd ed.). Information Today. Available through Amazon: 0910965846. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Mann, T. (2005). Oxford Guide to Library Research (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. Available through Amazon: 0195189981. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Walker, G., & Janes, J. (1999). Online Retrieval: A Dialogue of Theory and Practice, 2nd Ed.,. Libraries Unlimited. Available through Amazon: 1563086573. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain

Grading Scale

The standard SJSU School of Information Grading Scale is utilized for all iSchool courses:

97 to 100 A
94 to 96 A minus
91 to 93 B plus
88 to 90 B
85 to 87 B minus
82 to 84 C plus
79 to 81 C
76 to 78 C minus
73 to 75 D plus
70 to 72 D
67 to 69 D minus
Below 67 F


In order to provide consistent guidelines for assessment for graduate level work in the School, these terms are applied to letter grades:

  • C represents Adequate work; a grade of "C" counts for credit for the course;
  • B represents Good work; a grade of "B" clearly meets the standards for graduate level work;
    For core courses in the MLIS program (not MARA) — INFO 200, INFO 202, INFO 204 — the iSchool requires that students earn a B in the course. If the grade is less than B (B- or lower) after the first attempt you will be placed on administrative probation.  You must repeat the class the following semester. If -on the second attempt- you do not pass the class with a grade of B or better (not B- but B) you will be disqualified.
  • A represents Exceptional work; a grade of "A" will be assigned for outstanding work only.

Students are advised that it is their responsibility to maintain a 3.0 Grade Point Average (GPA).

University Policies

General Expectations, Rights and Responsibilities of the Student

As members of the academic community, students accept both the rights and responsibilities incumbent upon all members of the institution. Students are encouraged to familiarize themselves with SJSU's policies and practices pertaining to the procedures to follow if and when questions or concerns about a class arises. See University Policy S90-5 at More detailed information on a variety of related topics is available in the SJSU catalog at In general, it is recommended that students begin by seeking clarification or discussing concerns with their instructor. If such conversation is not possible, or if it does not serve to address the issue, it is recommended that the student contact the Department Chair as a next step.

Dropping and Adding

Students are responsible for understanding the policies and procedures about add/drop, grade forgiveness, etc. Refer to the current semester's Catalog Policies section at Add/drop deadlines can be found on the current academic year calendars document on the Academic Calendars webpage at The Late Drop Policy is available at Students should be aware of the current deadlines and penalties for dropping classes.

Information about the latest changes and news is available at the Advising Hub at

Consent for Recording of Class and Public Sharing of Instructor Material

University Policy S12-7,, requires students to obtain instructor's permission to record the course and the following items to be included in the syllabus:

  • "Common courtesy and professional behavior dictate that you notify someone when you are recording him/her. You must obtain the instructor's permission to make audio or video recordings in this class. Such permission allows the recordings to be used for your private, study purposes only. The recordings are the intellectual property of the instructor; you have not been given any rights to reproduce or distribute the material."
    • It is suggested that the syllabus include the instructor's process for granting permission, whether in writing or orally and whether for the whole semester or on a class by class basis.
    • In classes where active participation of students or guests may be on the recording, permission of those students or guests should be obtained as well.
  • "Course material developed by the instructor is the intellectual property of the instructor and cannot be shared publicly without his/her approval. You may not publicly share or upload instructor generated material for this course such as exam questions, lecture notes, or homework solutions without instructor consent."

Academic integrity

Your commitment, as a student, to learning is evidenced by your enrollment at San Jose State University. The University Academic Integrity Policy F15-7 at requires you to be honest in all your academic course work. Faculty members are required to report all infractions to the office of Student Conduct and Ethical Development. The Student Conduct and Ethical Development website is available at

Campus Policy in Compliance with the American Disabilities Act

If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability, or if you need to make special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible, or see me during office hours. Presidential Directive 97-03 at requires that students with disabilities requesting accommodations must register with the Accessible Education Center (AEC) at to establish a record of their disability.

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