INFO 244-01
Online Searching
Fall 2019 Syllabus

Nancy Friedland
Other contact information: E-mail or phone preferred.
Office Hours: Appointments available upon request.

Syllabus Links
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Canvas Information: Courses will be available beginning August 21, 2019, at 6:00 am PT 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 in the Canvas site automatically.


The course focuses on techniques of online searching, understanding database structures, hands-on search experience on commercial search services and user education and services. Commercial search services for review include resources from Proquest, EBSCO, LexisNexis, Factiva, Web of Science, eBooks, digital image collections and others. The course will also focus on open educational resources (OER). The skills and knowledge acquired in this course are transferable to a wide range of databases and other online search tools, across all sectors of the library and information management profession.

The major topics of the course include search techniques and strategies, database structure, selecting search tools, review of subject databases, and general online searching for open educational resources. 

Students are required to actively participate in weekly online discussions.

Readings include a required text, articles as assigned, and recorded vendor-run demos of commercial databases.


General Requirements

  • Visit the Canvas course site daily to review important announcements and to engage actively in discussions.
  • Keep up with the assigned readings and complete assignments to the best of your ability.
  • Submit all assignments by the stated due dates. Late assignments are not accepted, except in cases of serious sudden illness or family emergency, when said circumstances are communicated to the instructor before the due date.


Database Review

This assignment focuses on the process of evaluating databases for purchase. You are required to write reviews for two databases. The reviews will include a description of the resource and an evaluation of the content and search interface. The review will highlight the strengths, weaknesses, and discuss the subject coverage and opportunities for interdisciplinary research. 

Due: September 23

Points: 10

CLOs 1-8


This assignment is focused on preparing an in-depth review and subsequent audio-visual presentation of the Sage Research Methods database available through the King Library. 

The purpose of the presentation is to guide a user through the steps of researching a discipline in the Sage Research Methods. 

Due: October 28

Points: 30

CLOs 1256, and 7


The presentation will provide an overview of the resource in content and search features This assignment requires the development of a LibGuide -- an online guide to resources on a specific topic.

Due: December 2

Points: 30

CLOs 1-8

Online Exercises

Online exercises are included in most lectures.

Due: November 18

Points: 10

CLOs 1-8

Class Discussions 

Individual participation in class discussions is mandatory. The online discussions are essential to the development of the course through further investigation of each topic. Each student should contribute between 100-200 words in a post and respond to other posted messages. Students should actively contribute to a minimum of five discussions in advance of the listed close date. Discussions will be offered for a limited period. 

Due: December 2

Points: 20

CLOs 1,4,5,8


Required text see below

Additional readings include articles, system documentation from search service vendors, and other supporting materials will be made available on the course site.

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:

  • Mann, T. (2015). The Oxford guide to library research (4th ed.). 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 or undergraduate (for BS-ISDA);
    For core courses in the MLIS program (not MARA, Informatics, BS-ISDA) — 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.

Graduate Students are advised that it is their responsibility to maintain a 3.0 Grade Point Average (GPA). Undergraduates must maintain a 2.0 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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