LIBR 244-11
Online Searching
Spring 2009 Greensheet

Margaret De Bruine
Virtual Office: Contact via e-mail

Greensheet Links
Textbooks and Resources
Course Requirements
Course Calendar
ANGEL Tutorials
iSchool eBookstore

The Greensheet is a course syllabus which may be revised before or during the semester.

This class is completely online via Angel. Enroll at the Angel site January 22, 2009. You will need an access code, which will be sent to all registered students on January 22nd. Late enrollments are not accepted. The first day of instruction is January 23rd.

Course Description

This course introduces students to the fundamentals of searching fee-based database search services managed and brokered by Dialog, Factiva and LexisNexis. Students will learn the search process through an understanding of the reference interview, choice of database service and formulation of search strategies appropriate to their query. Various search scenarios will provide hands on exercises for real life research questions.

Throughout the course, students will review classic readings on the fundamentals of online searching and the development, management and implementation of online search services. Course exercises will provide practice in the reference interview, database selection and the search formulation process. Topics in the course include: the history of the online industry, the importance of the reference interview in the search process, trends in online searching, development of search strategies, search techniques, analysis of database structure, use and evaluation various database search services and online searching experience.

Prerequisite: LIBR 202

Course Objectives

Student Learning Outcomes:

  • Students will understand and employ effective strategies for online searching
  • Students will understand the importance of reference question negotiation
  • Students will understand appropriate database selection and search formulation
  • Students will learn content and search syntax for three major fee-based aggregator systems
  • Students will increase their familiarity with the professional literature available for searchers
  • Students will understand the role of fee-based services in providing access to information
  • Students will use understanding of the data structures of fee-based services to better understand Internet search engines and improve their Internet searching skills
  • Students will be able to evaluate the structure and content of a database

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

Course Requirements

Students must regularly consult Angel sections including:

  • Announcements
  • Course Information
  • Course Documents
  • Assignments
  • Discussion Board

This class meets online via Angel for the full Spring semester, January 22 through May 13.


  • Online discussion/participation
    Since this course is conducted entirely online, participation in online discussions via Angel is essential. Satisfactory participation in online discussions is mandatory for a grade of B or better. Discussion topics will be provided and students are encouraged to propose topics for discussion or begin new discussion threads.

    Discussion topics will be provided at the beginning of the week. Students should post a minimum of two thoughtful, substantive comments each week. Please check in on the discussions occasionally throughout the week, as questions may be asked by other students that may relate to issues or problems with the assignments -- help and hints from the instructor will be posted to the discussion boards, rather than answered in individual e-mails, so that all may benefit from the discussion. Students are also expected to participate in answering each others' questions, when appropriate.
  • Exercises
    A series of exercises will be posted on Angel, requiring the use of online databases for searches. Grading will be based on the student's search strategies, analysis of his or her thought processes and results of the searches, with the emphasis in grading on the search strategy, and description and analysis of the process (this cannot be emphasized enough!) -- why terms or databases were chosen (or not chosen), what the thought process was, how the search strategy was constructed, what mistakes were made, and suggested changes to the strategy if the search were to be re-run (although it is not necessary to actually re-run it). Finding the "right" answer is a factor, but not as critical as explaining and analyzing the search conducted -- the explanation and analysis demonstrates understanding of the concepts presented much better than simply providing search results.

    Search statements, as well as the analysis of the exercise, must be turned in for grading. It is not necessary for all results to be included, but the proper evaluation of an exercise requires that there be enough for the instructor to follow what was done and why. Analysis should be brief (one or two paragraphs is usually sufficient), but complete. Instructions will be provided for the assignments, and a sample assignment will be provided, demonstrating the format of the exercises to be turned in.
  • Quizzes
    There will be two quizzes, with specifics posted on Angel.
  • Essay
    An essay, 6-8 pages in length, will be due the final week of class. This essay should follow APA style (and, of course, the usual rules of good grammar and syntax).

    Two options for the essay are available:
    • Describe and analyze the steps, thought processes and results of a research project using online databases
    • Discuss an issue or trend involving online searching or the online industry
    Use a minimum of 5 sources for your essay (articles, book chapters, Web site materials, etc.). For more info on APA style, check out this page: .

Other Requirements and Comments

  • A high-speed connection for downloading various resources cited above is preferred. If you do not use a high-speed connection, it will be your responsibility to obtain all materials nevertheless.
  • This is a technical course that requires consistent and regular attention to all discussion on Angel and continuous preparation and effort – no exceptions.
  • In a survey of 43 students asking for the number of hours spent on this class, 24 responded. About 60% of the group spends between 4 and 12 hours per week on this class. About 30% spends 12 or more hours. 5% spent 2-4 hours and 5% spent 20-25 hours.
  • 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 have had problems earning a B grade. Lack of satisfactory participation in Angel results in a grade lower than a B. See the grading scale above.
  • All students are graded on the same basis regardless of workload, personal, medical, or technical problems, which are each student’s responsibility.
  • Extra credit assignments are not accepted.
  • No incompletes will be awarded – no exceptions.

Course Calendar
A course calendar with tentative due dates for assignments will be posted in Angel. Be aware that the calendar/schedule is subject to change.

Quiz 1 Due February 1, 2009
Exercise 1 Due February 15, 2009
Exercise 2 Due March 7, 2009
Exercise 3 Due March 21, 2009
Exercise 4 Due April 7, 2009
Quiz 2 Due April 14, 2009
Exercise 5 Due April 21, 2009
Exercise 6 Due May 2, 2009


Assignment Percent of final grade
Online discussion/participation

Grading for exercises and quizzes is based on a combination of:

  • Following instructions provided with exercises. Points are deducted for not following instructions.
  • Completing all exercises and submitting them on time. Two points are deducted for each day late and assignments are not accepted if more than three days late.
  • Evidence that you’re learning basic commands and syntax, reflected in your work.
  • Your comments – contained in a summary that includes your thought process, strategies, and findings. You must also integrate what you have learned from readings and class discussion.
  • Finding relevant results.
  • Grading incorporates consideration of creativity, thoroughness, thoughtfulness, and originality.

Successful course participants will:

  • Post a brief bio and statement of purpose to the Angel Discussion Board during the first week of class.
  • Read the required textbooks cited above and other reading assignments as posted to Angel.
  • Initiate and contribute to discussion on Angel weekly with substantive and thoughtful comments and questions.
  • Integrate knowledge from readings and class discussion into assignments.
  • Submit all required exercises, quizzes and the final essay or research project on time.

Textbooks and Resources

Online resources
The following are high quality guides from the major vendors we will study this semester.  Read or scan through these and use them as reference materials to assist you in your learning.  All of the items below can be downloaded at not charge.

Dialog offers a number of instructional materials through its Graduate Education Program at Review available sources and select those most useful to you. I’ve listed key materials below but there are others that some students find useful.

LexisNexis Resources
Guide will be posted to Angel

Required Textbooks:

  • Bell, S. S. (2006). Librarian's Guide to Online Searching. Libraries Unlimited. Available through Amazon: 1591583268. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Hock, R. (2007). Extreme Searcher's Internet Handbook (2nd ed.). Information Today. Available through Amazon: 0910965765. 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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