Tip: Spend a few minutes writing a description of your topic, why you're interested in it, and what you already know about it. Then start underlining words that you could use to search for your topic, and brainstorm additional related search terms. Keep adding to this list as you research and learn more.
In the image below, previous ENGL 102 students brainstormed search terms related to the example topic, "Where have all the Black Farmers gone?" They considered synonyms, specific populations/people, regions/location, sub-topics or related topics.
As you generate search terms, it will be helpful to prepare a list that includes keywords (important words or phrases) and subject headings (which are like pre-assigned tags for articles). You can find inspiration for keywords within the text of an article, book, etc. You can find examples of subject headings while browsing search results in a periodical database.
These short video tutorials provide strategies for generating search terms, broadening & narrowing search terms, and using search terms together for advanced searching.