A well-formulated search question leads to the most relevant material. So find out more about your subject before you start and determine what you want to know. Ask yourself if you need some basic knowledge first or if you want to delve deeply into the subject straight away.
If you want to familiarize yourself with the subject you could consult standard books, handbooks and encyclopedias in your discipline, or visit Wikipedia. As a result, you will learn more about what knowledge is available (for instance concepts, definitions and theories). You could read books and articles by authors who are known to be experts in the field. Or ask an expert for tips and advice.
A good search question consists of several well-defined and (where possible) measurable elements. The better you know how to define your subject the more precise your question will be. If you can't really tell what your subject is, your search results will be of no or less relevance.
Measurable and better is:
Thinking up the right search terms is one of the major parts of your search strategy.
Go looking for corresponding terms for each part of your search question. Don't forget:
And also think of the different forms:
Correct your search terms along the way. If you do so from the very start, you will soon see which (new) terms produce the right results, and which terms don't. Repeat this method als long as it takes.
You don't have to reinvent the wheel. Use resources:
In the case of searches for a larger paper or thesis it is recommended to create a search profile as part of your search strategy. In other words; write down what you are going to do/have done and the reason behind your choices.
Your search profile may contain:
During your search you may obviously change, add or cross off things when they are done or if (in the case of search terms) they turned out to be irrelevant.