Library databases are organized around concepts and in order to effectively search a database you will need to use keywords that represent your topic. When you begin your research first identify key concepts. Once you know what those are you can begin brainstorming keywords. Be sure to think of some keywords that are broader and some that are more narrow.
Searching is an iterative process, meaning you will need to search multiple times to find the information you need. Start with broad searches (one or two terms) then add more if needed, and be sure to mix up your keywords. Below is a list of terms or topics that can help you create good keywords:
Using synonyms is also important. Not returning results for "young adult"? Try "fiction", "novel", or "literature" and see if that changes your results.
Try different key words in your searches:
Add to your list by looking for:
No results? Search more broadly:
Try your search using fewer terms, or change to broader terms: for example, use the term artist (broad), instead of just painter (narrow).
Too many results? Narrow down by adding something:
Try combining search words, using "and" in between: nuns and education
Combine your terms using "AND":
women and marriage and property
Use the * (asterisk) wildcard, to search several terms at once.
educ* = educated, education, educator, etc.
Use quotation marks to enclose a phrase: