To perform searches, you will need keywords.
Let's practice brainstorming keywords by looking at a sample topic... What are the most common sources of guns used in crimes?
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.
What are the most common sources of guns used in crimes ?
When you eliminate the irrelevant words from your research question, you should be able to spot major concepts. The three major concepts in our example are sources, guns and crime.
Now, let's take each of those and come up with as many synonyms (or related ideas) as we can.
Sources - family, gun shops, gun shows, black market, gangs, illegal
Guns - firearms, handguns
Crimes - homicide, robbery, gun violence
Next, combine any one of the keywords from each group using AND.
1. "black market" AND guns AND homicide
2. illegal AND firearms AND "gun violence"
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.