To perform searches, you will need keywords.
Let's practice brainstorming keywords by looking at a sample topic... Would raising the minimum wage reduce poverty?
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.
Would raising the minimum wage reduce poverty?
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 minimum wage and poverty.
Now, let's take each of those and come up with as many synonyms (or related ideas) as we can.
minimum wage – entry-level job, low-wage jobs, tipped workers, living wage, underemployment
poverty – working poor, income inequality, seasonal workers, cost of living, purchasing power
Next, combine any one of the keywords from each group using AND.
1. "minimum wage" AND poverty
2. "working poor" AND "living wage"
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: "minimum wage" AND underemployment
Example 2: underemployment OR "part-time jobs"
Example 3: "minimum wage" AND health AND child*
Example 4: (underemployment OR "part-time jobs") AND millennials
Now, try to form a few search strategies for your own topic!