INFO 244-01
Online Searching
Fall 2016 Syllabus

Jean Bedord
Emergencies/Prior Appointment: 408-257-9221
Office location: Virtual in Silicon Valley
Office hours: E-mail reaches me faster than other communication. Use INFO244 in the Subject line or it may get lost in my e-mail filters. Most communication is in Canvas so I can answer to the entire class.

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Canvas Information: Courses will be available beginning August 24th, 6 am PDT unless you are taking an intensive or a one unit or two unit class that starts on a different day. In that case the class will open on the first day that the class meets.

You will be enrolled into the Canvas site automatically.

Course Description 

This course covers techniques and concepts for searching online, including strategies, database content, search options, and understanding the information environment. There will be extensive hands-on experience with subscription search engines, including ProQuest Dialog, Web of Science and LexisNexis.

Topics will include:

  • Search techniques and strategies, including concept analysis, search syntax, pearl building and citation chaining 
  • Database indexing
  • Relationship between database structure and effective search techniques
  • Evaluation of search methods
  • Choosing search tools
  • General online searching

The knowledge gained is applicable in any setting where information professionals answer questions, conduct research, train others how to search, or work with  database content and information retrieval. The skills are transferable to a wide variety of information environments including government, business, non-profit, public, school, and academic information organizations.

Course Requirements

General Requirements: 

  • Sign up for the ProQuest® Graduate Education Program in the first few days of the semester (details will be provided on course site). Students will also be issued passwords for the LexisNexis search system.
  • Check the course site daily for announcements and actively engage in the discussions.
  • Keep up with assigned readings and complete assignments to the best of your ability.
  • Submit all assignments by the due date.


  • Exercises
    These are assigned exercises requiring searches in subscription search engines.  Grading will be based on the student’s search strategies, thought processes and results of the searches.  Supports CLOs 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8
  • Quizzes
    These will test understanding of search concepts covered in the course.  Supports CLOs 2, 3, 4, 8
  • Online Discussion  
    Participation in discussions is an important component of online classes. Students are expected to post (at least) two comments on each discussion topic.  Supports CLOs 1, 4, 5, 8
  • Final Project
    Students can choose one of the following  for the final project: (1) an essay on a topic related to online searching; (2) a client project; or (3) a training packet on searching for a specific user group.  Supports CLOs 1, 4, 6, 7, 8
  • Presentations
    Students will give one short presentation (approximately 5 minutes) on a key conceptual take-away and  a second presentation on their final project. Presentations can be live or pre-recorded.   Supports CLOs 1, 2, 5, 6, 7

Course Calendar
A detailed calendar with assignment due dates  will be available in Canvas.


Assignment Percent of Total Points
Search Assignments/Quizzes 45 points
Discussions & Participation 15 points
Final Project 20 points
Presentations 20 points
Total  100 points


Late Work
There will be a 20% penalty for late work submitted within one week of the due date. Zero credit will be given after this.

Textbook Ordering Information
Important:  Be sure to purchase the 2015 editions for both textbooks. All books are available on Amazon or another source. Books are also available as ebooks from the King library, though having your own copy is encouraged.

Additional Readings
Readings in addition to the textbook will be available on the course site, including journal articles, book chapters and system documentation from search vendors.

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

INFO 202

Course 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)

INFO 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. (2015). Librarian's guide to online searching (4th ed.). Santa Barabara, CA: Libraries Unlimited. Available through Amazon: 161069998Xarrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Mann, T. (2015). The Oxford guide to library research (4th ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Available through Amazon: 0199931062arrow 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 or Informatics) — 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 if you wish to stay in the program. 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

Per University Policy S16-9, university-wide policy information relevant to all courses, such as academic integrity, accommodations, etc. will be available on Office of Graduate and Undergraduate Programs' Syllabus Information web page at: Make sure to visit this page, review and be familiar with these university policies and resources.

In order to request an accommodation in a class please contact the Accessible Education Center and register via the MyAEC portal.

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