This web site provides a tutorial on how to do basic and advanced searches on academic databases. The topics covered are (1) Basic Search Principles, (2) Keywords vs. Subjects, (3) Identifying Keywords, (4) Identifying Subjects, (5) Refining Your Search, (6) Advanced Searches, and (7) Practice Lesson. The databases used in the examples are the college’s online catalog, the Expanded Academic ASAP database, and the MLA Bibliography database.
The present material is a tutorial for searching academic databases. It is compiled for college or university students, and presents guidelines on how to search sources in databases step-by-step.
Type of Material:
Tutorial and Training material
* The tutorial can be used in the class - reading or listening to the instructions together and having discussions meanwhile.
* It is also suitable for independent learning at home.
* The tutorial is accompanied by practical tasks that students can carry out individually or in teams after having worked through the study material.
This is the tutorial that each student should have bookmarked because these useful hints should be revisited every now and then.
No specific requirements needed. The page appears well on Mozilla Firefox (31.0), as well as Internet Explorer (11.0.10) and Google Chrome (36.0). It can also be opened in iPad (Safari).
Identify Major Learning Goals:
After having worked through the material the students will know:
* the basic principles by which databases operate * the differences between keywords and subject headings * how to choose useful keywords * how to identify useful subject headings in different databases * how to refine searches using Boolean operators * how to use advanced search screens.
Target Student Population:
The tutorial is compiled for the students of George Mason University. However, as the sites of the library and database do not need any logging in, it is suitable for all users who search academic databases.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Some basic knowledge of academic literature, references and academic vocabulary.
The module is clear and concise; it contains accurate information.
The tutorial is logically built up, the material has been presented very clearly. * At the beginning main terms are explained (record, field). * The examples illustrate author's idea and support learners' understanding. * The author has introduced different approaches and explained their usage.
The site is limited to only three examples, it is oriented toward a single college audience, and it is not interactive. The content of the site is not deep or rich.
The text is dense and may be difficult to read for them who are not "academic" enough. However, it should not be considered a concern but rather a challenge to become more "academic".
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
The site contains good information and a good practice lesson
It is possible to acquire the material in the class and also independently without teacher’s guidance. * The practice lesson with its 5 parts is a very good tool for checking acquisition the material and practicing academic search.
The site is very text-heavy. The audience is George Mason students using their own Fenwick Library. The site contains no video or audio.
No concerns, certainly very effective for the target group.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The module is a very simple left-hand navigation web site with 8 linked pages.
The tutorial has been built up logically starting with more general ideas and moving on to more specific ones. * Navigating is easy and logical thanks to the menu bar on the left. * All links function properly and searches are possible to make without leaving the tutorial page.
The site is not engaging, as it is heavily text-based with only a few screen shots.
The only concern is that the layout of the page is not too appealing, it is very modest. Maybe the logos of George Mason University or Fenwick library would have added some academic touch and been a little bit more attractive.
Other Issues and Comments:
"Searching Academic Databases" is a very nice tutorial that should attract each learner of tertiary education. It is certainly very helpful for students who are at the beginning of their academic career.
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