Break your research topic or question into keywords. In databases, plug these keywords into the Titles, Abstracts or Keywords search fields.
You can search using phrases to make your results more specific. To make sure the database looks for the multiple terms to appear right next to each other, put quotation marks around your search query. Be careful to not limit the search by using too many words in the phrase. Stick to using established phrases (words that you can reasonably expect authors/researchers to use).
"George Washington's farewell address"
Truncation allows for searches of a word that could have multiple endings. This method is very useful when you know one of your search terms has several endings, but all of the variations represent basically the same idea.
Many databases use Boolean operators to combine keywords in database searches. Use Boolean operators (AND, OR, and NOT) to connect your search terms or keywords together to either narrow or broaden the results.
Subject terms are controlled vocabularies that describe the subject/focus of each book or article within catalogs. If you have questions about the vocabulary within the database your are searching within, look for Thesaurus. You can consult terms in database thesauri for ideas on the best keywords to use in your searches. Type in the term that best describes your topic and see what the thesaurus has that might better describe that topic. Using the thesaurus can help you figure out which synonym to use, which spelling to use, or which combination of terms to use.
Specialty/Specialized Databases may use terms unique to them or within a field of profession. For example, the catalog and databases of the National Library of Medicine (NLM), including MEDLINE and PubMed, prescribe Medical Subject Headings (MeSH).
A lot of databases will show you Suggested Topics or Suggested Subjects once you have run your search. Look for these suggestions to find subject terms that are related to your keyword search.
For focused results refine searches by choosing indexes to check the search terms against. Common database fields include: Author, Article Title, Abstract, Journal Title, Subject. Searches usually can be limited to Full Text or by Language, Publication Date or Material Type.
Delve into the world of research with the Researcher's Bootcamp. In these sessions you will learn how to create a search string, use reliable research resources, find law and legislation, and use reference managers to keep your research organized. The session order is as follows:
1. Conducting Internet Research Part 1
2. Conducting Internet Research Part 2
3. Finding Laws and Legislation
4. Reference Managers