Brainstorm related terms and synonyms (ex. legalization: laws, legislation, policies, decriminalize).
Explore your topic. Use tools like Google, Wikipedia and Oxford Reference for Background Information on your topic.
Consider alternate names, abbreivations and acronyms, broader or narrower terms, spelling variations. Example: Netherlands (Belgium), Europe (Amsterdam), Holland (Dutch).
Consider a variety of angles for your topic (ex. Geography, Time Period, Population, etc.).
Use Expert Vocab
Found a great result? Check out the Keywords / Search Terms that are used to describe it. Try these in your next search.
Different search engines and databases might use different vocabulary.
Adapt Your Search
Many search engines and databases use facets to adapt your search.
Using a facet will reduce the number of search results you get.
Facets might include: Full Text, Item Type, Peer-Reviewed, Subject Terms, Publication Date and more.
Use boolean logic (AND, OR) to combine terms that describe your topic.
Try to use individual concepts rather than phrases.
Example: children AND violence AND television not "the effect of television violence on children."
Some search engines and databases let you use advanced search features such as Truncation, Wildcards and Boolean Operators.
Truncation and Wildcards let you to search variant forms of a word in a single search. The wildcard is the symbol that "stands in" for the part of the word that might vary. For example: Microb* (microbes, microbiology, microbial, microbacteria, microbiologist, microbilogists). Other symbols that might be used to truncate include: *, #, $, and ? (this depends on what database you are using).
Boolean Operators combine search terms / keywords with connecting words 'AND,' 'OR,' and 'NOT.' Use these to broaden or narrow your search.