One effective way of searching any library catalog is by using Library of Congress subject headings.
Subject headings are "controlled vocabulary" - specific terms assigned by librarians to classify library materials.
One way to find appropriate subject headings is to first start with keyword searching. Go to the IDS Search catalog and do a simple keyword search, using words that match your topic (e.g. San Diego transportation, or shanghai modernization politic*). As you look through the list of search results and find an item you like, click on the title and then scroll down to find the subject headings used to classify that item. Clicking one of those subject headings will run a new catalog search and retrieve additional materials on that specific subject.
In these databases, you can limit your search to "Peer Review" if you need to find scholarly articles.