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. See several examples in the table below.
|Subject Terms||Related Terms|
|Cyberbullying||School bullying or Internet bullying|
|Digital media||Digital communications|
Also, combine or group terms or concepts using the Boolean operator "AND" to refine your search string: cyberbullying AND social media or try the search string: social media AND fake news . Check to see if the database offers a Thesaurus or a Subject Terms tab or link. For instance, the database Academic Search Premier offers a "subject terms" tab, and the ERIC database features a "thesaurus" tab, while ProQuest offers a "thesaurus" link. Enter terms in the Browsing box to see how the database recognizes them.
When a good article is found, check to see how it is indexed (what subject terms are used). For example, using the general database Academic Search Premier and the search term "cyberbullying," the article for "Cyberbullying" Who Hurts, and Why" provides additional subject terms for consideration to either create a new search or to combine with the original search term.
YouTube video from Pollak Library, California State University - Fullerton on using websites in your class papers and projects.
YouTube video from Pollak Library, California State University - Fullerton
Some NSU Library Google videos.