Once you've brainstormed keywords for your research question, think about what operators you may use. Operators are a way of combining keywords to get the best results from your search.
AND Use AND when you want to find articles or other information that contains both/all keywords
student AND secondary
OR Use OR when you want to find articles or other information that contains at least one of the keywords
student OR learner
NOT Use NOT when you want to find articles or other information that does not have a certain keyword
student NOT child
You can use Boolean Operators together to perform a very specific search. You might want to use parentheses to group your keywords together:
student OR learner NOT child
Other Search Tricks:
Quotation Marks Put quotes around phrases when you want that phrase to be found in that exact order
Wildcards Use wildcards when there are unknown characters, multiple spellings, or endings. Symbols for wildcards may differ, so check the Help in your databases to see what symbols they use.
? Replace a single character
Truncation Use truncation to find all forms of a word. Symbols for truncation may differ, so check the Help in your databases to see what symbols they use.
* Learn* will find learn, learning, learner, learners
Note that Wildcards and truncation can NOT be combined in one keyword for your search
Combining Keywords, Operators, and Truncation creates a very specific search:
"secondary learn*" OR "high school" NOT child
In trying to follow the scholarly conversation, you may find it helpful to use a research method called “citation tracing.” When you find a source that seems promising, you should do two things: first, you should look at what older sources it has cited. And second, you should see what newer sources have cited it.