Why can't I find any articles in the databases on my topic?

First, check the Libraries list of Research Guides by Subject to see if you have chosen the best database for your particular search. After you choose a research guide for your subject, click the Find Articles tab to see a list of specialized and general databases. Several databases are suggested for each subject area, so read the descriptions to decide which one to try first. If you try searching in the suggested databases and can't find what you are looking for, review the list of Research Guides by Subject to determine if your topic might fall under another subject category. If you think that you have been using the appropriate database and still can't find anything, check the keywords you are using.

To determine appropriate search terms, it is a good idea to write out a thesis or a statement about what you are looking for. From this thesis, identify all of the significant words and then write as many synonyms for these keywords as possible. Try searching using different words from your list.
Hint: Some databases have a built-in thesaurus or index to help you determine the appropriate search terms to use.

Additional tips:

  • Join your keywords with the word and.
  • Avoid using long phrases and try using keywords instead.
  • Check your spelling!

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