Developing effective search strings is a vital component of the research process. Tools like Credo Reference can help provide keywords and also have Mind Mapping features to help dive deeper into a broad topic.
Another tool for developing keywords is the Thesaurus built into most databases. This is a great feature to ascertain some of the controlled vocabulary used in an academic discipline.
When searching in a database, critical thinking skills are essential. Don't waste time and paper! These questions can be used for any research assignments. Spend a few minutes reviewing the citation and/or abstract information and consider the following details:
Author: who wrote this and what are his/her credentials and affiliations?
Source: is this a scholarly, professional, popular, or trade publication?
Publisher: who produced this? government? university? corporation?
Date: when was this published?
Audience: for whom is this written? general public? scholars? practitioners?
Purpose: are the findings clearly stated? Are there clear biases?
Data: is methodology explained? Are charts, graphs, illustrations clearly presented?
Conclusions: do the findings support the thesis?
References: are there footnotes and citations leading to related work?
Compare: how does this article compare with other articles in this field?