Wildcards stand for an undetermined letter. There are two wildcard symbols ? and #.
Truncation searches for words with the same stem and it's symbol is *.
Using equivalent search terms may help you find better resources. Sometimes there may be words or phrases that are used by those in the field.
For instance suppose I am looking for information on depression. By doing some preresearch online (such as google or wikipedia), I find that depression is generally broken up into two types: major depressive disorder and persistive depressive disorder. This will also allow me to further refine my search if I am actually interested in only one of the types (in addition to removing the possibility of results on the Great Depression).
Be sure to read your preresearch thoroughly! A quick glance may have you searching for dysthymia, but just reading the first sentance better, you see that dysthymia is no longer a proper term, and while it may retrieve results, persistive depressive disorder will retrieve better results.
You will search more effectively if you know something about your topic. To that end, do some research before you start doing your research.
I mean google it.
Did a librarian just recommend that I Google or Wiki my topic?????
Yes. You can't cite Wikipedia, and you may not find good resources on Google, but you will have an easier time finding information on your topic when you understand at least the basics if your topic, and for that you can usually find information on Google and/or Wikipedia.