I moved straight into the professional world after my bachelor's degree, and have no experience with formal research of any sort. Recently, however, my university has granted alumni access to a large portion of its collection of research journal subscriptions. I would like to leverage this access to improve my understanding of my field--and of other fields I explore in the future as a hobbyist.
But I do not even know how to search for information relevant to my interests. For example, if I am interested in looking into research done on the relationship between the brain's ability to focus on one task for a given length of time and efficacy of study methods, the first thing I think of is 'attention span,' but this appears to yield articles in primary education journals outlining techniques for managing children with short attention spans. If I try 'focus,' I end up chiefly with results discussing the practice of selecting a focus for one's undergraduate degree. If I try 'concentration,' I end up with myriad articles describing the impacts of either chemical concentrations or demographic concentrations on psychological health and development. None of these things are close to what I am actually searching for, even after filtering the results for the fields I thought would be obvious choices--Education and Psychology.
After sniffing around on my own, a widespread assumption in the existing advice I've found is that the article-seeker will be an academic well-versed in the jargon of their field, or who are looking to expand out from a paper they've already found or been directed to by someone knowledgeable. Is there a consistent methodology for a non-academic to gain a foothold of understanding on a given topic--as with my 'attention spans and study methods' example--that allows one to branch out from there?