The search words you use to search article databases like Education Research Complete or ERIC will yield the best results if the words mirror database terms used to describe the articles or are in the text of the articles.
Key Elements of Successful Searching
Synonyms: use more than one word to describe your topic: for example: child or student
Truncation: use * to “truncate” words to find as many forms as possible for a word: for example: curricul* will yield curricula, curriculum or curricular
Logical operators OR and AND: for example: curricul* AND gifted education will yield articles that deal with both the topics of curricula/curriculum/curricular and gifted education (narrows your search); curricul* OR lesson plan* will yield articles on either curricula/curriculum/curricular or lesson plans (broadens your search)
Phrase searching: use N4 to find terms 4 words apart: for example, gifted N4 educat* yields articles where the words gifted and educating/education/educator/educational/educate appear within four words of each other
Clarify Your Concepts by Using a Table
If you are researching curricula for gifted children, here is one possible set of search terms:
Concept: Gifted Education
gifted N4 educat*
talented N4 educat*
academically N4 gifted
curricul* N4 framework
Limit to Full Text, Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals, or to English Language Articles If Applicable
Review your search results and use words from the subjects, titles or abstracts to make your search strategy more effective.