A common mistake students make is to search a database the same way they search Google. Avoid this mistake and your results will dramatically improve.
Here is a common and incorrect searching style:
The database will interpret this search as a phrase, so only results where the words are next to each other will appear. An article called "Teens exhibit violent behavior after playing violent video games" will not appear, even though it may be exactly what you need.
Avoid limiting your results by separating search terms:
In this search, the main concepts (keywords) are on different lines. You will get more results because the search is now more flexible.
These are common features of many different databases: the ability to use AND, OR, and NOT to create a better search. The area shaded yellow shows you what kind of results you will get using the search terms "calcium" and "fatty acids".
AND: search terms must exist to be included. Gives fewer, but better, results.
OR: item must have at least one of the terms entered. Helpful when you have two similar terms, such as "sustainability" and "energy conservation".
NOT: search term cannot be part of an item to be displayed. Can help remove unwanted items from your results.
Use AND OR or NOT within the search boxes! When you have words like "teen" that have multiple synonyms, use the OR operator to search for any one of those words in the results.
This will expand your searches. If one author uses "teen", another uses "youth", and another uses "adolescent" - they'll all show up in this search.
When you have your keywords, you need to look for synonyms of the keywords. The more synonyms you use in your search, the more article results you will get from the database. Many library databases have a thesaurus or a list of subject terms. You can use the database's thesaurus find the most relevant and academic terms for your topic.
Find Thesaurus in the databases.
Use this guide to find out how to search a database thesaurus.