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 mulching and tilling with compost on poor performing grapevines 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 mulching AND compost AND grapevine 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 mulching AND compost AND grapevine AND "South Africa"
I should also look for tilling as that is also part of my topic. Similarly compost could also be described as "organic matter":
(effect OR impact) AND (mulching OR tilling) AND (compost OR "organic matter") AND grapevine AND "South Africa"
Similarly, mulching can also just be 'mulch' or 'mulched'. 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 'mulch' and 'mulching' together:
(effect OR impact) AND (mulch* OR tilling) AND (compost OR "organic matter") AND grapevine 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: