Your research question will largely determine the kinds of sources you need and how you search for them.
This page includes guidance on several aspects of finding sources:
Locating a specific article:
Creating a search strategy: video tutorial| search strategy worksheet (Hunter College)
Trouble finding sources on your topic? This video may help you rethink your search.
Too many or too few results? Try these search tips.
Keywords are search terms that best express the essense of your topic. They are crucial to an effective search, especially in library databases. Here are some tips for identifying keywords:
1. Be concise: Begin with only 2-3 essential terms, and avoid long phrases. The more terms you enter the fewer results you’ll get. (For example, a search for environmental consequences of fracking may yield 0 results, while fracking environment yields over 2,000.)
2. Use synonyms and related terms: If your first term doesn’t work, try a synonym. You may have to try out several related search terms to find the types of resources you're looking for. (Example: environment INSTEAD OF environmental consequences)
3. Background research: To identify useful keywords, do some quick background research. Note terms that are often used to discuss the topic. (Reference sources like Wikipedia or the library databases Credo Reference and Oxford Reference Online offer overviews of many topics. Of course, remember to evaluate information in Wikipedia with particular care since almost anyone can edit it.)
4. Database search results: Do a quick database search and view the search results page to identify relevant terms.
Looking for scholarly articles but not sure which library database to use?