LIBR 244-01
LIBR 244-10
Online Searching
Summer 2013 Greensheet

Amelia Kassel
Virtual Office:  Contact via e-mail

Greensheet Links
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D2L Information: Students will be automatically enrolled in the D2L site for this course. The course will be available to students on the first day of class, Monday, June 3rd, 2013.

The Greensheet is the course syllabus and may be revised before or during the semester. Any changes will be announced via D2L News with fair notice.

Course Description

The course introduces students to content and search techniques for premium (fee-based databases) used by librarians and information professionals in many settings.  Emphasis is on ProQuest Dialog with coverage of LexisNexis and Dow Jones Factiva, historically referred to as the Big Three in the traditional online information industry, which began in the 1960s prior to the existence of the Internet and now 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:

  1. Powerful search capabilities that allow for precision search features and enhance productivity
  2. Diverse sources which are searchable across multiple databases at one time, and
  3. Archival information. 

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 using "concept analysis", a key technique, and understanding controlled vocabularies, also called thesauri, builds a solid foundation for achieving better search results whether using subscription search systems offered by academic and public libraries or applied to Web search engines when conducting research for complex questions.

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

Course Requirements

  • All students taking this class will be required to sign up for the ProQuest® Graduate Education Program. Details will be provided at the beginning of the course and it is then the student's responsibility to follow through with specific instructions during the first two days of class. The access is free to enrolled MLIS students and without it students will not be able to complete the work of the class.
  • Passwords for other online systems will be provided during the semester.
  • Student accounts for these online systems are free for SLIS students.  You will not be charged any fees.
  • Students are expected to check for announcements posted to D2L News and read all discussion postings daily.
  • Students are required to complete the following assignments:
    • Readings: Read and discuss required books, vendor documentation, and articles assigned throughout the semester.
    • Online Discussion: Read all postings and participate minimally one time a week in online discussions by adding thoughtful, substantive comments or questions that relate to the reading material and other assignments. Interacting with other students is essential. Detailed class discussion requirements will be posted at the beginning of the semester.  Class discussion is 20% of the grade. Lack of meeting the class discussion requirement will automatically result in a grade below a B.
    • Search Exercises: Perform online searches for a series of exercises.
    • Final Research Report: Students may choose from two options listed below for the final report. Students will use judgment about how to format reports. Q&A about topics and formats can be discussed with the professor and other students during D2L discussion forums. 

Final Research Report Options

  • Option #1
    A formal research report of eight to ten pages (not including the title page and abstract) plus a list of sources used in your report about an online research topic, issue, or trend of interest to you. The paper must relate to online research.  The report requires you follow APA style and all the rules of good organization, grammar, and syntax. Use Times Roman 12 or Arial 11 typeface and double space your report. Include a single-spaced abstract with your name on the title page.  Submit the file to the D2L Dropbox in a Word file with your last name and the paper title as the name of the file. You're expected to use the Big Three to research your final report.  If the Big Three do not produce information about your topic, other sources and databases are acceptable with the following requirement: Provide an introduction explaining why the Big Three did not work for your topic and add an appendix that includes the Big Three database/sources used along with search strategies tried.  A minimum of eight citations, five of which should be during the past two years are required to document your research.  Older citations are acceptable when applicable.  If current information is not available, explain reasons for lack of current information in your introduction. When ProQuest Dialog databases contain abstracts without fulltext and you require fulltext articles, use other sources available to you. Peer-reviewed articles are not required.
  • Option #2
    Students may find a client (student, professor, family member, friend, etc.) who has an information need, conduct research for the client, and deliver it to the client using databases learned this semester and other applicable databases as needed and available to you.
    • In addition to submitting a report to the client, prepare a report to submit to me that includes the work submitted to the client and discussion of the following components,
    • The client interview with a statement describing the research question and its background with purpose or goals of the request.
    • A list databases or sources of information used and/or that could be useful if not used in your research.
    • An overall search strategy.
    • A summary of results that includes an analysis.
    • Ask the client to evaluate the search and include his/her evaluation.

Submit your final reports to the D2L Dropbox in a Word file with your last name and the topic title as the name of the file.

Assignments and Dates Due
All assignments are due by 11:59 Pacific on dates listed below.  An Assignment Schedule file with detailed information will be available the first day of the course.

Assignment Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) Due Date Point Value
Exercise 1 SLO #1 SLO #2 SLO #3 SLO #4 Monday, June 24, 2013 16
Exercise 2 SLO #1 SLO #2 SLO #3 SLO #4 Monday, July 8, 2013 16
Exercise 3 SLO #1 SLO #2 SLO #3 SLO #4 SLO #5 SLO #6 Monday, July 22, 2013 16
Exercise 4 SLO #1 SLO #2 SLO #3 SLO #4 SLO #5 SLO #6 Monday, August 5, 2013 16
Final Research Report SLO #6 Friday, August 9, 2013 16
Discussion Participation

SLO #1 SLO #2 SLO #3 SLO #4SLO #5 SLO #6 SLO #7 SLO #8

Participate minimally, once weekly (any day of the week); read all posts 20
Total Points     100

Course Grading
Completing all assignments accurately and on time and participating in class discussion according to instructions will earn a grade of B. To raise this grade, you will need to demonstrate above average creativity, imagination, analysis, and scholarship in all assignments 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

Grading for exercises is based on a combination of:

  • Following all instructions, which is key to this course.
  • Evidence that you’re learning basic commands and syntax, reflected in your work.
  • Your comments contained in a summary for each exercise problem that includes an objective analysis of your strategies, findings, and lessons learned. You must integrate what you've learned from readings and class discussions into summaries and cite learning materials used.  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 but can be longer.
  • Finding relevant results.
  • Evidence of experimenting with varying search strategies, called iterations.  The more you experiment, the more you learn.

Grading for the final report includes its fit with the objectives of the course, your stated goals, normal standards of organization and composition, and quality of analysis and presentation.

Late Assignments
Late assignments are not accepted.  If you have a life-threatening medical emergency or a family tragedy, please contact me.  A letter from your physician is required for medical emergencies.

Extra credit is not available.

Successful students will:

  • Post a brief bio and statement of purpose during the first week of class.
  • Read and discuss the required textbooks and all other assignments.
  • Initiate and respond to discussion postings with substantive and analytical comments and questions. 
  • Integrate knowledge from readings and class discussion into all assignments by quoting and citing sources.

Additional Requirements and Comments 

  1. This is a full semester course compressed into a 10 week summer session and the same requirements and standards are applied to this course as for Fall and Spring.
  2. This is a technical and challenging course because you will be learning new ways to search.  The course requires consistent and regular attention to all class discussion postings, preparation, and careful attention to following all instructions. 
  3. A survey found that students spend a minimum of nine hours and for a few students, as many as 20 hours on this course per week. 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.
  4. Lack of satisfactory participation in class discussion results in a grade lower than a B.
  5. All students are graded on the same basis regardless of workload, personal, medical, or technical problems, which are each student’s responsibility.
  6. One-on-one answers for exercise questions by email are not provided. If a student has a question about any aspect of the course curriculum, post to the discussion forum; if you have a question, others may too and Q&A is helpful to your classmates.
  7. Please make yourself aware of SJSU drop dates and policies. Even if past the regular drop date, it may be better for some students to drop late rather than receive a grade below a B.
  8. Incompletes will not be awarded, no exceptions.

Course Workload Expectations

Success in this course is based on the expectation that students will spend, for each unit of credit, a minimum of forty-five hours over the length of the course (normally 3 hours per unit per week with 1 of the hours used for lecture) for instruction or preparation/studying or course related activities including but not limited to internships, labs, clinical practica. Other course structures will have equivalent workload expectations as described in the syllabus.

Instructional time may include but is not limited to:
Working on posted modules or lessons prepared by the instructor; discussion forum interactions with the instructor and/or other students; making presentations and getting feedback from the instructor; attending office hours or other synchronous sessions with the instructor.

Student time outside of class:
In any seven-day period, a student is expected to be academically engaged through submitting an academic assignment; taking an exam or an interactive tutorial, or computer-assisted instruction; building websites, blogs, databases, social media presentations; attending a study group;contributing to an academic online discussion; writing papers; reading articles; conducting research; engaging in small group work.

Course Prerequisites

LIBR 202

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate a broad understanding of the design of major fee-based online databases and how to search them effectively.
  2. Describe database content, search language, and syntax.
  3. Apply effective search strategies and techniques, with a focus on concept analysis and pearl building.
  4. Identify the value and role of fee-based database aggregators in obtaining precision results quickly and efficiently.
  5. Understand how knowledge of database aggregator systems increases the quality of Internet research.
  6. Use quality Internet search tools and techniques.
  7. Demonstrate skills and knowledge applicable to assisting and training end users.
  8. Develop confidence in their ability to learn to search other databases or online systems similar to those covered in the course.

Core Competencies (Program Learning Outcomes)

LIBR 244 supports the following core competencies:

  1. E Design, query and evaluate information retrieval systems.
  2. H Demonstrate proficiency in identifying, using, and evaluating current and emerging information and communication technologies.


Required Textbooks:

  • Bell, S. S. (2012). Librarian's guide to online searching (3rd ed.). Libraries Unlimited. Available through Amazon: 1610690354arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Hock, R. (2013). The extreme searcher's internet handbook: A guide for the serious searcher (4th ed.). Information Today. Available through Amazon: 1937290026arrow 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

Recommended Textbooks:

  • Vaidhyanathan, S. (2011). The googlization of everything: And why we should worry. University of California Press. Available through Amazon: 0520258827 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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