Power search features for most article databases:
- Use synonyms -- there are many ways to express a concept (teenager or teenagers or adolescent)
- Use truncation to get different forms of the word, for example teenage* will retrieve teenagers, teenager, teenaged, etc.
- Use quotation marks when you want an "exact phrase"
A bit more complex -- but really powerful:
- Use "controlled vocabulary" (also called descriptors or subject headings) if the database has them. The ERIC Thesaurus is a very powerful tool. You can browse the Thesaurus by category to get an overview of how the research is organized in a topic area, and to learn the terminology that the editors apply to describe what an article is "about".
- Use the special "limits" or "fields" that the database offers. Many let you limit by language, ERIC also lets you limit by:
- Educational Level -- are you interested in secondary? elementary? higher education?
- Audience -- do you want articles oriented towards practitioners or researchers?
- Publication Type -- do you want dissertations? books? journals? classroom guides