To find information effectively you need to invest time up front to develop a search strategy using a range of search techniques.
Before you start searching, spend some time defining your research topic. Ask yourself, what is it that you want to find out? What search terms or keywords will find this information?
Use whatever technique works best for you - e.g. brainstorming, words lists or mind maps etc. can help you think around your topic and identify all possible search concepts and terms.
Sage Research Methods Online (SRMO) is a great resource to use when you are planning and conducting your research.
Although targeted at social science researchers, it covers key research methodology topics that are applicable across the research spectrum.
Sage have produced this LibGuide to help you get the best from the resource.
Beware of spelling variants
In most databases searches may also be refined or broadened by using quotation marks, truncation *, wildcard symbol ? and parenthesis.
Example: "internet fraud", "red blood cells"
Example: econom* will find economy, economics, economical, etc. *old will find told, household, bold, etc.and searching for hon*r will find honor, honour
Example: t?re will find tire, tyre, tore, etc. and searching for ad??? will find added, adult, adopt, etc
Example: (education AND elementary) NOT secondary (child OR infant)
Searches may be refined or broadened by using the Boolean operators: AND, OR and NOT (always in capital letters).
AND narrows the search (most databases automatically connect words with and)
Both items must be present e.g.
facebook AND twitter – finds resources where both facebook and twitter are discussed
OR broadens the search e.g.
facebook OR twitter – finds resources where either or both terms are discussed
NOT excludes/narrows e.g.
social media NOT facebook – finds resources about social media but excludes resources about facebook