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Course Description

Introduction to the types and the use of multiple academic databases. The course involves discussions of the storage and structure of information recorded in databases; the use of search tactics and strategies to optimize use of databases; and the types of databases that exist, including disciplinary and multi-disciplinary, journal and ebook, as well as databases that hold intermediary information, data and working papers, and supplementary information, multimedia. The course also includes an introduction to the methodology of systematic literature reviews, where students apply established methods to document a reproducible and rigorous literature review.

Course Objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will:

  1. Understand the basic principles of document storage and description.
  2. Become familiar with information retrieval principles and search strategies.
  3. Become familiar with the types of databases that exist and their uses.
  4. Employ the above objectives in order to create a systematic, rigorous, and reproducible review of the literature.


  1. Short papers, 4 - 6 pages
    1. Compare and contrast document records from three similar databases
    2. Compare and contrast document collections from three similar databases
    3. Compare and contrast search tactics from three similar databases
    4. Extensive description of selected database
  2. Long papers, 10 - 12 pages
    1. Systematic review
    2. Bibliometric analysis
  3. Summary reflection, 3 pages
    1. Students document changes in information retrieval behavior as a result of the course


  1. Week 1: introduction
    1. history
    2. landscape
    3. vendors
    4. open access
  2. Week 2: storage
    1. records (document surrogates, metadata, &c.)
    2. descriptors (thesauri, controlled vocabularies, &c.)
    3. full text, multimedia
  3. Week 3: indexes and abstracts
  4. Week 4: info retrieval
    1. precision/recall, &c.
    2. relevance
  5. Week 5: info seeking:
    1. search tactics
    2. search strategies
    3. codifying the search process
  6. Week 6: online catalogs
    1. InfoKat
    2. WorldCat
    3. Others
  7. Week 7: bibliographic/citation databases
    1. Web of Science
    2. Scopus
    3. Google Scholar
  8. Week 8: multi-disciplinary and multi-format databases
    1. EBSCOhost Databases
    2. Proquest Databases
    3. LexisNexis Academic
  9. Week 9: reference databases
  10. Week 10: disciplinary databases
  11. Week 11: government databases
  12. Week 12: ebooks
  13. Week 13: data repositories
  14. Week 14: institutional/subject repositories
    1. OpenDOAR
    2. ROAR (
    3. arXiv
    4. SSRN, &c.
  15. Week 15: digital libraries
    1., &c.

Readings to be organized

Khan, K. S., Kunz, R., Kleijnen, J., & Antes, G. (2003). Five steps to conducting a systematic review. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 96(3), 118-121.

Notes from 8/4/2015 Meeting with Sarah Asher from the Office of eLearning:

  1. Review our new distance learning course development grant application process ( which contains a link to the
    1. Cover Sheet ( you will need to fill out (including the Chair’s signature, Cost Center Number, and Business Officer’s name and contact information) and send back to me.
    2. Course Syllabus Requirements
        1. I’ll send any suggestions in my syllabus review email
      1. Learning Objectives
        1. I’ll send any suggestions (if any) in my syllabus review email
    3. Review Course Development Standards before/during process:
  2. The URLs of the systems we discussed:
    1. Films on Demand: (you can create an account, if you wish)
    2. Distance Learning Library
teaching/ict-human-computer-information-retrieval.txt · Last modified: 2015/12/09 11:51 by seanburns