Answered By: Rosemary Burgos-Mira
Last Updated: Jun 30, 2014     Views: 51

You may be having difficulty because your search is very broad. Consider narrowing down your topic. For example: the effects of rising gasoline prices on middle class families in the United States. Once your topic has a specific focus, identify key concepts and break down these concepts into as many related keywords as possible. For example:

Topic: The effects of risinggasoline prices on middle class families in the United States.

Concept 1: Gasoline Prices

Keywords: gasoline prices OR petroleum prices OR fuel prices

Concept 2: Middle Class

Keywords: middle class OR middle income

Concept 3: United States

Keywords: United States

Now that you have these keywords handy, you can use them along with Boolean operators (AND, OR, and NOT) to search the databases. Select Academic Search Complete, a multidisciplinary database that can be accessed from our A-Z Databases page ( Once in the database, you will see three search fields at the top of the page. Populate each field with a single concept. Use OR to expand your search for related terms and AND (from the drop-down menu) to connect each of your concepts. For example:


The search strategy above will return several articles. However, it is just an example, so feel free to take away or add keywords as you refine your search to meet the needs of your assignment.

For further assistance: