While Google can understand your research topic phrased as a question, library databases want you to specify the important keywords from your research question and how you want to combine them. See below for strategies on choosing keywords and combining them to broaden and narrow your search results.
Run Time: 3:45
Use ORs and parentheses to combine synonyms or multiple topics
(oil OR petroleum OR crude)
(antibiotic OR antiviral)
(woman OR girl OR female)
Truncate roots of important words* to find plurals and more
perform* (searches for perform, performance, performativity, etc.)
Insert a “wild card” [*?$!] to catch words with different spellings
*Truncation and wild cards work differently in different databases. Check the help section of the database to learn what symbol to use and how to properly use it.
Combine concepts with AND to find more relevant sources
picasso AND Africa
internet AND privacy
bedrock AND Massachusetts AND hydrology
Use “double quotes” to find exact phrases
Use proximity searching* to find words near each other
women NEAR violence
progressive NEAR/10 tax
"global warming" NEAR/20 "sea level"
*Proximity searching works differently in different databases. Check the help section of the database to learn how to properly use it.