1. Be prepared with synonyms in case your original search produces no results. If the database offers a link to a thesaurus or subject terms tab, use it to locate additional or related words for your search terms.
2. Pay attention to search tips or help screens provided by each database. Take the time to learn how to use the tool - it will help you to avoid frustration!
3. Remember that most databases allow for Boolean Searching (see the video in this guide). Use and to narrow, or to expand, not to exclude. Truncation is also useful for bringing back all relevant results. For example, type counsel* to bring back documents containing the words counsel, counseling, counselor...
4. Review the database search screen for a Thesaurus or Subject Terms tab or link.
5. Review articles, the references with this article, look for sections listing key words or subject terms, and relationships to your focus on the topic.
Depending on the database, it may offer a variety of ways to limit your results:
For articles that are not available in full text, use the InterLibrary Loan service.
Most databases use a controlled vocabulary to organize information and make browsing more efficient and specific to chosen terms. When building your search string, consider keywords, synonyms or related terms.
Combine or group terms or concepts using the Boolean operator "AND" to refine your search string: american history AND 19th century or try the search string: dust bowl AND oklahoma . Check to see if the database offers a Thesaurus or a Subject Terms tab or link (see the referenced database examples below). For instance, the database Academic Search Premier offers a "subject terms" tab, and the Military & Government Collection database features a "subjects" tab, while ProQuest offers a "thesaurus" link. Enter terms in the Browsing box to see how the database recognizes them. In the database, America: History & Life, it offers the tab "CLIO Notes," where you can search by a span of years, concepts, presidency, movements, and year spans.
E-Journals by Title can be used to find many of the full text articles that are not available in full text through a particular database. See the link below.
YouTube video created by NSU Libraries on how to search multiple EBSCOhost databases simultaneously.
YouTube video from Pollak Library, California State University - Fullerton