You've identified search terms for each of your concepts.
It's now time to enter your search terms into the search resource and generate some results.
Use quotation marks to ensure that a keyword phrase is searched as a whole (vs. searched as individual words).
Use an asterisk (*) to search for multiple forms of a keyword using the same root.
Subject headings in most databases are arranged in a hierarchy of broader and narrower terms. Exploding a subject heading means searching for results tagged with a particular subject heading as well as all of its narrower subject headings.
Some databases allow you narrow your subject heading search to only return results in which the selected subject heading has been identified as the main focus of the article.
Remember: Not all search tools use Subject Headings to describe content. In these cases, searching with keywords alone is sufficient.
At this point, you've generated a variety of search terms (both keywords and subject headings) to represent your key concepts. Now it's time to combine these search terms into a search strategy.
Search terms can be combined using AND or OR. OR is used to combine terms representing a single key concept, while AND is used to bring together multiple concepts.
For a detailed explanation of how to apply these tips and strategies to specific databases, check out HSL's database tutorial videos: