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Don't panic. This is normal.
Research is not a linear process and it is likely that you will need to perform multiple searches before you find good results on your topic.
First, try different keywords. Don't be afraid to broaden your topic and search for synonyms of your keywords. If your search returned some results, look at those results to aid in brainstorming.
Additionally, you may want to try your search in a different database. Oftentimes, topics can span multiple subject areas.
Finally, don't be afraid to Ask Us! for help!
For best results, break your topic or research question into keywords.
Truncation allows you to search any ending on a root word.
For example, if your topic uses the word teenagers, then you may also want to search:
The root word is teen. To truncate and search teen with any ending you would type:
The asterisk at the end of the root word tells the database to search for that word with any ending. This expands your search to find more articles.
Most of the databases provided by NWACC allow you to limit your search results to items available only as full text.
Look for "Full Text" check boxes like the ones below:
Boolean terms (sometimes called Boolean operators or command terms) connect your keywords to create a logical phrase that the database can understand.
This may involve forcing the database to look for multiple terms/concepts at once, which will make your search more precise -- or may allow the database to search for alternative terms that will bring back more results.
This creates a more precise and powerful search, with a higher percentage of relevant results.
This page will show you how to use the Boolean terms And, Or, and Not in your searches.
The AND operator:
salary AND retention
The OR operator:
salary OR wages
The NOT operator:
standardized test NOT SAT
Warning: Use NOT with caution. It can remove relevant results.
Most databases include a combination of peer-reviewed and popular content. Look for a check box on the search page that will limit to scholarly or peer-reviewed journals. Examples include: