1. Start with the words that are familiar to you. If your research topic is to discuss the architectural significance of the Palatine Chapel of Charlemagne in Aachen, Germany your possible search terms might be:
Some databases allow you to put the key terms in a word string in one box: Palatine Chapel Charlemagne Aachen
You don't need to include operators such as AND in the case of databases using a Google-like search box. For other databases you are required to separate the concepts and join them with the operator AND. This means that each term must be included in the article in some way as a keyword.
Each of these terms is entered into one of the search boxes on the database search screen.
But this search may not and probably will not yield the best results. There are two things you can do to make your search more precise:
First, determine additional synonyms or related terms. Often these are more specific and use the language of the profession. Such as "Carolingian Architecture" You might even consider joining like terms together in the same line: Carolingian Architecture OR Medieval Architecture.
The second is to pay attention to subject headings when they are available. For example, using WorldCat Research Station you may find that using the inverted subject heading: Architecture, Medieval will give you the results you are looking for.
Boolean searching, knowing the language of the discipline and understanding and using the concept of subject headings will make your searching more productive.
You should know that there are three Boolean operators:
AND--each of the words or terms must be in the record, AND reduces the number of results.
OR--increases the size of the set you are searching.
NOT--excludes a particular word or concept from the search.
There are many places to start your search. I will use "the Palatine Chapel of Charlemagne at Aachen" as my example:
For this class here is a search strategy that I recommend for you to follow, no matter what your topic might be.
1. CREDO (Has a good selection of images to choose from.)
In the search box: palatine chapel charlemagne aachen
Review the results. You can follow through to the links to Google Scholar, JSTOR, Academic Search Premier on the left side of the screen. Google Scholar will probably provide some helpful resources. Note: Brockman's Encyclopedia of Sacred Places.
or this article in CREDO: Church Architecture in Late Antiquity: A Guide to the Postclassical World
Vitale in Ravenna, completed ca. 548, and ultimately with Charlemagne's Palatine Chapel at Aachen. 1348 words from Harvard University Press
The number of words in the article may be important as you decide on which articles to select. Also when using articles that you find you can use their sources to find additional ones as well as items that have used this article as a source.
2. WorldCat Research Station--Advanced Search, Libraries Worldwide (If you want only what Taylor has access to you may change the pull-down menu to limit to Taylor.)
kw: palatine chapel kw: charlemagne kw" aachen
Using the term kw: is important in locating the best resources. This search yields 28 items of all formats. You can choose to limit formats if you wish.
(You can also scroll down to the bottom of the page for further hints for subjects such as su: church architecture su: aachen (Germany) churches su: architecture, medieval
I chose the first item: