Here are a few tips which work in many of the databases:
1. Keep it simple! You may need only a few key words or phrases related to your topic to allow you to find some really good articles.
2. Search terms can be very broad (e.g. "social movements") or very specific (e.g. "Arab Spring" or "Occupy Movement") depending on your needs.
3. Use AND to link two ideas together (e.g. "Arab Spring" AND "social media"). Most databases provide a search form with separate boxes for each idea.
4. Use limits or filters provided by the databases (e.g. publication date, peer-reviewed, full-text) as needed depending on your assignment.
5. Get help from a librarian if you are having difficulty finding resources. Often a quick phone call, chat, or visit with the Reference Librarian on the library's second floor will work to provide the answer you need.