When using academic databases, it's important to:
1) read the SCOPE of the database you are looking to use. Many of the different databases look the same because they come from the same vendor, but they are very different in the kind of information they cover. Just because it looks familiar does not mean it covers what you are looking for.
2) use KEYWORDS and CONNECTORS. These databases do not respond to natural language searching. For example, "What was the gross domestic product of the united states in 1985?" will not, as a general rule, work on these databases. You would want to put together a search such as "gross domestic product AND united states and 1985". Also, there are many ways to filter and refine results once you get a set. Play around with the databases to get a feel for the different functions.
3) email documents AND citations to yourself. Many people print out articles and then days later lose a page or two and then have to recreate the search. Just email the documents to yourself as all of the databases have that function. Also, they all have a brief citation function that will give you a head start in putting together a citation sheet.