Facets: Most databases will allow you to filter your results using "facets" (sometimes called limiters or refiners). These are the options (normally located on the right side) that allow you to only display results that meet certain criteria such as peer review, full text, year of publication, etc. Using facets can really help to cut down the number of results you get from a search.
Bibliography Scanning: When you find an article you like, look at the bibliography. There is a good chance that you will find other articles that would be helpful to your research.
Find Alternate Keywords: Often databases will list the keywords that are associated with the article you find. You can sometimes find this information in the abstract of the article as well.
Boolean Operators:Use of Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) can sometimes be useful to help tie together or separate search terms. Use AND to only find articles that contain both of the keywords you're looking for, use OR to search for articles that use either one, and use NOT to eliminate a search term from your search.
Truncation and Wildcards: Root words can have multiple endings Example: sun = suns, sunshine, sunny, sunlight. Likewise there are some words that are spelled differently, but mean the same thing. Example: color, colour
Keywords are how you think about a subject. What words do you use to describe the topic?
Subjects are how a database thinks about a subject. You might think this word does not describe your topic, but the database does!
Databases often have a thesaurus to help you learn their language. If not, look at a useful article in that database and use the subjects listed.
If you are looking for phrases, use quotations marks. Then the database will search for it as a phrase and not just as words anywhere in the record
What's wrong with Googling your topic? Google can give you over 25,000,000 hits when you look for your topic.
Is a database better? Yes! It's easier to focus your search to your particular topic and limit your results to academic research.
First of all, start with a strategy:
Not getting good search results? Check your search terms.
Terms not worth typing --
In general, articles discuss strategies, effects and benefits. It's more effective to think about specific benefits, strategies and outcomes you want to research.