What is in a database? What subjects are being covered? What type of materials (journals, books, book chapters, dissertations,) are included? Check "Help."
What does it search? Can you search by keyword, subject, author, title. What does default search mean? How do you switch to other types of searching? Is there a drop-down box for subject searching?
How does it search? Connected by OR (any of the words), or AND (all of the words). OR will broaden a search; and will narrow a search.
Should I search by keyword or subject? Start with a keyword search. Keyword allows you to search any word or phrase you can think of, and will look in all fields of the record, yet many of these items may not be relevant to your search. Then scroll down, and click on the Subject terms listed for that item to find more sources, which are yielding fewer but more relevant results.
Does it search controlled vocabulary? Most databases offer the option of searching by controlled subject terms . These terms are collected in an online thesaurus.
What if I can too many results? Narrow your search by selecting specific dates, language, publication types, and more. Another quick way is to type more terms in your search box. Add more concepts. Also look at the controlled vocabulary (subject headings) assigned to each record page.