Boil your topic down to the most important words. Ignore superfluous words like in, the, of, with, against, affect, impact. Since you're searching a full-text database, begin with a Lead/First Paragraph search. Click on the All Text drop down bar and choose Lead/First Paragraph--this will increase the relevancy of your results.
Put each "different piece" of your topic in a separate search box, if available. Using the topic of CEO pay or income as an example below, note how each different piece of the topic is entered on a separate line. Synonyms for the pieces are connected by OR--and kept on the same line--as seen below...
Too many results? Focus your search by searching for your keywords in the Headline. Click on the All Text pull down bar to select the Headline field. Or...add another different piece to your topic--in this case, you might want to look at Wall Street CEO pay/income.
Too few results? Think of synonyms. Add synonyms to your search--using OR--and keep your synonyms all on the same line.
Increase your results by removing the least important "piece" of your search while still retaining the "essence" of your search, if possible. In the example above, both pieces are pretty important. That's not always the case.
Still no results? Broaden your search slightly. Still no luck? Try a different newspaper article database--like Academic.
Be sure to take advantage of:
Boolean operators -- connect different pieces with AND. Keep synonyms on same line, connect with OR.
Exact phrase searching -- "wall street"
Field searches -- Use Lead/First Paragraph or Headline.
Both Academic and NewsBank provide pure full-text, so everything that you find will be immediately available.
Although the topic's unrelated, the search strategies/concepts are extremely useful. Guaranteed to make you laugh and teach you valuable search skills.