Use 2 or 3 significant words or terms from your research topic
Develop synonyms and alternative terms
Try a broader concept if a specific term doesn't retrieve enough results
Try a more specific aspect or element if you get too many results with a very broad concept
Use the connector "and" to retrieve records with all the keywords you list to focus and narrow your results
Use the connector "or" indicate that any one of the terms listed needs to be in the results shown; this usually increases the number of relevant results
Use quotation marks to indicate a phrase
Use an asterisk * to pick up words with the same stem but different endings
Look for new words or terms to search when reviewing your results or reading the full-text article.
Some specialized databases allow you to limit your search in other useful ways: educational level, age, population group, research methodology, language, etc.
Limiter options vary by database:
Make connections through ideas and concepts rather than specific words
Look at the reference list at the end of a relevant scholarly article or book you found. This may lead you to earlier articles and sources related to your topic. Search the UNH library search box by the title of the article or book see if we have the source online, in print, or if you can request it through interlibrary loan.
Check "Times Cited" or "Cited By" links, if available, in databases such as Worldwide Political Science Abstracts or PsycINFO to identify some newer articles citing the article in the database record. This may lead to related relevant articles.
Use Web of Science to follow citations from published articles to identify older and newer related articles across many disciplinary fields in the sciences, social sciences, and arts & humanities.
Google Scholar is another way to follow citations. Search the title of a relevant article, then click on the "Cited by #" link at the bottom of the entry.
Google Scholar results include "Cited By" links to articles, books, presentations, and more. Note that not all links go to peer-reviewed publications.
Searching by the subjects assigned to articles helps
Look at the subject terms in records for articles that fit your topic closely and search those subjects for more articles
Use the thesaurus available in some databases to see if your keywords are subjects or if alternative terms are used
What else have the author(s) published on this topic? Search their names in the relevant database or look for their CV (curriculum vita) online.
Subject-specific journals may publish articles on similar topics, so try searching within specific journal titles that you see appearing frequently in your search results.
People in different disciplines or professions can talk about the same topic very differently. This worksheet will help you develop and keep track of research vocabulary.