It's worth spend a little time doing "pre-research" to find the keywords, vocabulary, who, what, when, where, and how of your topic.
This will save you time in the long run. If you're using the wrong search terms you won't find what you need.
Wikipedia and other basic websites or encyclopedias are a great way to find enough information about your topic to do a good search. You can use Wikipedia at the beginning of your research process, just not at the end.
What are the keywords you would use to describe this image?
Start with 2-3 important words relating to your topic. If you start with too many, it may limit your search too much and you may miss resources that would be perfect for your paper.
Add on extra words to narrow down your results. More words = fewer results.
Use "quotation marks" to search for a phrase, i.e. find those words in that order. "Time management" or "distracted driving" are good examples. This will usually narrow your search.
Use the Asterisk 2 ways:
Wildcard - use the * in the middle of the word to replace one letter.
E.g. wom*n will find woman and women.
Truncation - use the * at the end of words to bring up words with the same root that have different endings (suffixes).
E.g. nurs* will find nurse, nursing, nurses, nursed, nursery, and any other words that start with nurs
If it's a really common root, it may find too many items. E.g. philo* will find everything from philosophy to philodendron.
AND, OR, and NOT are Boolean Operators.
You don't have to remember the phrase "Boolean Operators", but if you know how AND, OR, and NOT work, you'll be a better searcher, and save yourself time and frustration when you can't find what you're looking for. You may notice them if you dig around and find the advanced search in the databases.
Search Tip: Don't worry about CAPITALIZING your boolean operators. Lower case is fine. I've capitalized them here to make them more visible.
AND will always narrow your search. The more terms you add, the fewer results you'll see.
Search Tip: Don't worry about typing AND between your search terms, the databases are adding it to your search automatically. Just type in your search terms.
OR will always expand your search. Only use OR to find synonyms or similar concepts.
Surround your OR grouping with (parentheses).
NOT will exclude items from your search.
Add it to the end of your search to eliminate a search term you weren't expecting to see in your results.