When we search, we just put our keywords into a search engine in a database and it gives us back the answer. This is easy with everyday concepts that can't get confused - such as how many ml are in a liter. But academic concepts are more complicated, and can often be grey areas with searching. So understanding HOW to search is key to making sure you don't miss any vital information.
Simply take your topic and break it down into keywords:
eg. The effect of soil tillage on weed growth in South Africa
You can see how many words are irrelevant to our search above - we only need to use the highlighted keywords and combine them with Boolean operators:
effect AND "soil tillage" AND "weed growth" AND "South Africa"
We also need to consider words that might have the same meaning - for example I can use either the word 'effect' OR the word 'impact':
(effect OR impact) AND "soil tillage" AND "weed growth" AND "South Africa"
I can also look for specific types of weeds as articles might not mention the words "weed growth" but they might speak about 'rumex' or 'ranunculus':
(effect OR impact) AND "soil tillage" AND ("weed growth" OR rumex OR ranunculus) AND "South Africa"
Similarly, 'tillage' can also be 'tilled'. Here I can use an asterisk as that will help point the search engine to the root of the word, making it search for both 'tillage' and 'till' together:
(effect OR impact) AND "soil till*" AND ("weed growth" OR rumex OR ranunculus) AND "South Africa"
So you can see from this example how a good search strategy will make sure you don't miss anything - and now that I have this, I can copy and paste it across into multiple databases. Although Google Scholar is a great starting point, it does not have access to ALL our databases, and if you don't use more than one database you run a very high risk of excluding very important research on your topic!
To see how Boolean Operators work , check out the infographic: