How do you move from a research question to searching in a database? You first have to pick out keywords from your research question.
Let's try an example. Your topic is related to the cost of alcohol addiction (a very broad topic that you would eventually narrow down).
Keyword search strategies:
"alcohol addiction" AND cost --> finds sources with both these terms included. " " finds the exact phrase.
addiction OR abuse --> finds sources with either term included, or both terms.
alcohol AND (addiction OR abuse) --> finds sources with the terms alcohol and addiction, sources with the terms alcohol and abuse, and sources with all three terms, alcohol, addiction, and abuse.
Subject headings or pre-defined "controlled vocabulary" terms or phrases are assigned to every book or article you find in NUsearch or a particular database. If you don't know what subject headings to search, a keyword search can lead you to those important headings (sometimes called descriptors). The right subject headings can yield relevant search results. In addition, you can narrow down to sub-headings or sometimes even jump to broader or related subjects.
Examples of subject headings in NUsearch: