To perform searches, you will need keywords.
Let's practice brainstorming keywords by looking at a sample topic... How does aging affect one's ability to recognize emotional expressions?
First we'll eliminate irrelevant words. The databases will search for every word that you type into the searchbox, so try to keep your search simple - just a few words.
How does aging affect one's ability to recognize emotional expressions?
When you eliminate the irrelevant words from your research question, you should be able to spot major concepts. The two major concepts in our example are aging, recognize, and emotional expressions.
Now, let's take each of those and come up with as many synonyms (or related ideas) as we can.
aging – older, seniors, old age
recognize - recognition, process, perceive, cognition, brain
emotional expressions – emotion, emotional, vocalization, facial expressions
Next, combine any one of the keywords from each group using AND.
1. aging AND perception AND emotion
2. "old age" AND recognize AND "facial expressions"
3. aging AND brain AND emotion
Different combinations of search terms will give you very different results, so you may want to try several different search strategies to see which gives you the best results.
Sometimes, advanced search techniques can save you time and get you better results than a simple search with two keywords and AND.
To create an advanced search strategy...
Finally, you can combine these techniques to create an advanced strategy. You may have to try several searches to see what works best for your topic.
Example 1: aging AND perception AND emotion*
Example 2: (aging OR "old age") AND recogni* AND "facial expressions"
Now, try to form a few search strategies for your own topic!