If you are new to research at the library or want a reminder about how to develop a search strategy, read through the rest of this page. If you are just looking for some advanced tips to improve your searching, jump ahead to How to Search and Using Databases.
The University of Illinois subscribes to over a thousand different databases that can help you access the content you need. It can be overwhelming to know how to start searching, so here are a few quick tips:
Before you start, you'll want to plan out a search strategy. Think about the research question you're trying to answer and brainstorm a list of possible keywords. What terms best describe the information you're looking for? What kind of sources do you need? Taking the time to articulate exactly what kind of information you need before you start looking will help you retrieve more focused, relevant results.
Using the steps below to structure your research can help keep you on the right track. Remember as you work that research is a cyclical, iterative process - you may need to reevaluate your search terms multiple times, brainstorming new keywords as you refine your topic.
Quick Tip: Keep track of the search terms you've used and the databases you've tried so you don't repeat unsuccessful searches. Keeping a research journal is a great way to develop your skills and ensure you remember what keywords and strategies worked and which ones didn't.