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.