When searching a database or Oskicat you will need to unlearn some Google habits. When searching Oskicat less is more. Start with simple searches (two to three key concepts). If you get too many results, add more terms and/or apply limits, e.g. by language or material type. If you get nothing or not enough, try different terms and use synonyms, e.g. "microcredit" for "microfinance."
As an example, the search below is a simple "keyword" search for bangladesh and microfinance. It retrieves 81 results which is easily mananageable. You can also click the Google Book link on the right to search through sections of the text and see related items.
Useful "limits" and "sorts" in the catalog include a language limit (over 50% of the items in the UC Berkeley libraries are not in English) and sorting by date or relevance.
One useful Oskicat feature is the subject heading. The advantage of this is if you identify the library subject heading for your topic you can see "related headings" (see below for related headings for microfinance) like a taxonomy. One good way to do this is do a keyword search, find a record for a book you like, and click the subject heading.
When searching a database such as Proquest, go to the advanced search and stack the terms in the boxes. Do not string terms together on one line - the database may interpret this as a "string" and search in that exact order. When in doubt add an "and" between terms.
- Be persistent.
- Use synonyms, discover the jargon
- Start with simple searches. If you get too many results, refine.
- When searching library databases, stack the terms
- Verify peer review
- Follow up on citations & references