First, organize your research topic into concepts. Concepts are typically nouns or noun phrases.
- For example, if you are researching the political and economic implications of social security benefits, your concepts would be:
- political implications
- social security benefits
Using a databases's Advanced Search, enter each concept and its synonyms into a separate search line.
- "social security benefits"
- econom* OR politic*
Use quotation marks around phrases, these are typically noun phrases that you would find a definition of in a dictionary.
- "social security"
- "political implications"
Use * for truncation.
- Econom* will find economy, economics, economic, economical, etc.
Limit to peer-reviewed articles if necessary.
Limit by date if necessary.
Too many or too few results?
- Use the thesaurus or Subject Index to find related, broader, narrower, and similar terms OR specific terms that the databases uses to describe a topic.
- Too many results? Use a narrower term.
- Too few results? Use a broader term.
Find an article that looks interesting?
- Click on the article's title.
- Look at the subjects given to an article to find related terms and run additional searches using these terms.
- Click on the references, cited by, or see similar documents links to find related articles.