Searching a library database requires you to break your research question into searchable concepts. The library databases work different than Google and a major pitfall when searching a library database is expecting the search interface to understand language and interpret your search question. Therefore, you will want to
- Identify the major concepts of your research topic.
- Break your topic into major concepts that can be used as search terms. A concept could be a subject term, technical jargon, or a proper noun. These concepts are usually nouns of one or two words.
- Combine these search terms together, but only one or two concepts at a time.
- Run your search.
- If you got no results; change your search terms or remove concepts from your search.
- If you got thousands of results; add another concept or develop a more exact search by using scientific terminology as search terms. This will narrow your results.
- Review your search results by looking at the title and abstract. Is the article on your topic? The title can give you a good indication of what the article is about, but sometimes you will need to look at the abstract to determine the topic of the article.