LIBR 244-02
Online Searching
Fall 2009 Greensheet

Jean Bedord
Emergencies/Prior Appointment: 408-257-9221
Office location: Virtual
Office hours: E-mail reaches me faster than other communication. But I expect most communication to occur within the ANGEL environment, so I can answer to the entire class. Use LIBR244 in the Subject line or it may get lost in my email filters.

Greensheet Links
Textbooks and Resources
Course Requirements

Other Requirements

ANGEL Tutorials
iSchool eBookstore

This class is completely online via ANGEL. Students must self-enroll for this course before August 28, 2009. You will use a password access code, which I will provide through the MySJSU Messaging system no later than August 24.

First day of official instruction is August 24. Late enrollments may not be accepted.

Course Description

This course covers techniques of online searching, understanding database structures, and hands-on search experience on commercial search services. Emphasis is on the Dialog system, with coverage of Lexis-Nexis and Dow Jones Factiva, known in the traditional information industry as the Big Three aggregators.

The knowledge gained 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 as well as for searching the Internet.

Topics include searching techniques and strategies, database indexing, evaluation of search services, and understanding the relationship between database structure and effective search techniques. In addition, students gain familiarity with trends in the online information industry through relevant professional literature.

Prerequisite: LIBR 202 

Course Objectives

Student Learning Outcomes
By the end of the course, students should have:

  • Explored content for three major fee-based commercial search engines.
  • Developed effective search strategies and techniques for conducting online searches in fee-based systems.
  • Demonstrated correct search syntax in all three commercial services by completing class exercises.
  • Identified high quality Internet resources and their properties.
  • Compared results for Web searching vs.  commercial services, learning appropriate sources.
  • Written a short research paper on a topic in the online information industry, utilizing online research resources, demonstrating professional level writing and choices of information sources.

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

Paramount student learning objectives are:

  • A broad understanding of the design of online databases and how to search them in a self-assured and effective manner, and
  • Confidence in the ability to achieve competence searching any database or online system similar to those covered in the course.

Complete list of competencies at

Course Requirements

This is a totally online class on ANGEL.  Each unit will be posted under the Lessons tab. Students are expected to check daily for activity in the course, particularly the discussion forum.  These are your lifeline in this class, so start communicating early in each unit, well before assignments are due.

The assignments for this course will be:

  • Exercises
    There will be four assigned exercises requiring searches of commercial search engines. . Grading will be based on the student’s search strategies, thought processes and results of the searches.

    More important than finding the “right” answer is the description and analysis of the process – 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).

    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 some results are necessary for the proper evaluation of the exercise. Analysis should be brief (one or two paragraphs). 
  • Quiz
    There will be one quiz, with specifics posted on ANGEL. 
  • Online Discussion
    Since this course is conducted entirely online, participation in online discussions is essential. Discussion topics will be provided. Students may start discussions. Students should post (at least) two comments on each discussion topic, one an original contribution and the other a response to another student’s post. Please check in on the discussions occasionally throughout the week. Note that participation is 20% of your grade, so non-participation will automatically reduce your grade below a B.
  • Research Paper
    A 5-10 page papers due  the final week of class.  This paper will demonstrate proficiency in using online resources. Topics can be an issue or trend  inovolving online resources in libraries, Web searching, or  searching or the online industry. Each student will select a topic and have it approved by the instructor mid-semester. This research paper shall be in APA style with the usual rules of good grammar and syntax. You will be expected to use a minimum of 5 cited sources (articles, book chapters, website materials, etc.)


Assignment Percent of Total Points
Online Exercises
60 points
5 points
Online Discussions & Participation
20 points
Research Paper
15 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.

Required Home Computing Environment
Please see the School’s “Home Computing Requirements” at

Internet Explorer is required for Factiva searching.

Additional policies and expectations:

  • Be aware of SLIS requirements for dropping classes
  • Expect to spend a substantial amount of time on this class. It is technical in nature, and requires regular attention and skill building. It is in your own best interests to do the practice exercises, even though they are not graded.
  • Carefully consider your total course load, work and family commitments before starting this class. All students are graded on the same basis, without consideration of personal circumstances.

Other Requirements

APA Style Guide to Electronic References

The electronic version  has been licensed by SLIS and available for download in the restricted readings.  You will be expected to follow APA formatting for your research paper.

Additional industry publications and vendor reference materials will be used.

Textbooks and Resources

Note:  Look for used copies of the Walker book, which has been used for several years.  The examples and technology examples are dated; however, the book is useful in understanding methods to effectively search fee-based systems, as well as the underlying technology in this course.

Required Textbook:

  • Hock, R. (2007). Extreme Searcher's Internet Handbook (2nd ed.). Information Today. Available through Amazon: 0910965765. 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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