Your searches will be more effective if you follow the below simple steps:
Identify the key concepts in your essay topic e.g.
Discuss the effects of parenting style on children's development
The key concepts are parenting style and children's development
Diferent people refer to the same concept using different terms. Different countries also use different terminology. When you search for informatioin, you need to consider the range of synonyms that might be used in place of the concepts you have in your essay question. If you only search on one term, you risk missing articles that use different terms. Take into account:
Synonyms e.g. parenting styles/childrearing
Related terms e.g. childhood development/psychosocial development
Spelling variations (e.g. behavior vs behaviour - PsycINFO uses North American spelling and terminology)
Plurals and variations on a word stem e.g child, children, childhood
Use an asterisk (*) at the end of a word to locate alternative endings, e.g. child* will find child, children or childhood
Use AND or OR to combine your search terms. Using an AND between your search words will help to narrow your search by finding all articles that containing all of the terms. Use an OR between synonyms.
Here's an example of a good initial search for information on this topic
parenting style* AND child* development
A more complex search could be (parenting style* OR childrearing) AND (child* development OR psychosocial development or cognitive development)
Apply limits to your search to make your search more focussed. Use the cntrl key to select multiple categories from each window. Some of the most useful limits are:
The results of your search will appear as a list of brief records. When you find an article that looks useful, look at the subjects assigned to the article. To find other articles, try using combinations of relevant subjects in another search.
Each article has the full reference list linked - see the Cited References links. When you find a useful article, look at the linked references as this can lead you to other relevant articles. Sometimes there are also links to articles that have cited the article ("Times Cited in this Database"). Use these links to lead you to more recent research on the topic.
You always need to be prepared to refine your search and try other searches to find more articles.
Didn't find enough articles?
Here are some tips to make your search broader:
alcohol* and fetal development
fetal alcohol syndrome
alcohol* and prenatal
Found too many articles?
You can find these printed journals in the library