Most people, most of the time, find a search box, type in a few words, and hit <SEARCH>.
However, it is not always clear how the search terms are interpreted by the database.
Are the terms being searched within the titles and abstracts of the articles? If so, then this gives the term more importance, and the search results should be more relevant. Or, are you getting results that contain your term anywhere within the full text of the article? This usually increases the number of results, but reduces the relative importance of the term, and some of the resulting articles may seem to have little to do with the topic at hand.
Does the database recognize two adjacent words as a phrase, or should the words be placed in quotation marks?
Are the search results displayed by order of relevance, or by date?
This guide compares two of the larger business periodical databases that the Sawyer Library subscribes to (EBSCO's Business Source complete, and ProQuest's ABI/INFORM Complete), with the aim of pointing out the differing features, which will allow the user to construct a narrower, and more relevant search.
The Sawyer Library subscribes to many periodical databases from EBSCO, and they will look and behave much the same as is described here. Similarly, the other ProQuest products (The Wall Street Journal, and the historic New York Times 1851-2009) will also look and behave like ABI/INFORM Complete.