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Property Development: Plan Your Search

How to search for and find information on property development

What is property development research?


Property development combines many disciplines, including investment, project management, planning and construction. The literature you'll use as a property development student will be varied too, from books and journal articles through to legal material, company and business information, and business news.

The sample search below will show you how to construct a search from an assignment question. We'll then take this search and look for information on the Search for Information  page. 

Sample assignment topic


Site plan from sample assignment question

On a hypothetical 2 parcel piece of land zoned for farming, determine the compensation due when the government acquires a section of one land parcel for the purposes of building sewerage infrastructure.

Prepare a report in determining the total compensation payable to the owner under the relevant heads of compensation as set out in the Land Acquisition (Just Terms Compensation) Act 1991.

Identify your key concepts


Before you begin searching, it's a good idea to identify the main ideas (or keywords) in your assignment question. 

Our sample question has many elements, but the main three are:

  • Compulsory acquisition of land.

  • Compensation due to the owner of the land being acquired.

  • The Land Acquisition (Just Terms Compensation) Act 1991, through which the amount of compensation is determined

Keyword 1 Keyword 2 Keyword 3

Compulsory acquisition


Land Acquisition ... Act 1991

Brainstorm keywords and synonyms


Once you have your main keywords you can use them to map out some similar or related terms to search with. Some of the language in the assignment is legal in nature so one of our legal dictionaries or Halsbury's Laws of Australia might be useful to help you get started in thinking about how to search.


Compulsory acquisition Compensation Land Acquisition Act

land acquisition

(Land Acquisition Act 1991)

heads of compensation

highest and best use



non-urban zoning



There aren't many related terms for compulsory acquisition. We've added land acquisition (and the name of the Act - more on that below).

For compensation we've listed some terms found in sec 49A of the Land Acquisition Act, which deals with compensation.

The Land Acquisition Act may not be needed in every search, and in some cases the name of the act could also be used in place of the term compulsory acquisition in a search. 

Underneath we've also listed terms particular to the property in the assignment question. While not related to the Act, they are listed as an alternative third keyword to find materials we might miss otherwise.


  • Remove a keyword or add more related terms if you don't get enough good hits.
  • Add a keyword if you have too many hits and they aren't focused enough on the topic.

Build your search


When searching, it's best to start simple. For our topic that would probably be just compulsory acquisition compensation

You don't need to use all three keywords in every search. Try swapping in different combinations from columns 1, 2 and 3 until you feel you have enough material.

Eg: compulsory acquisition Land Acquisition (Just Terms Compensation) Act 1991

If you don't find much, you can also try Boolean Operators. Boolean Operators can be used to search for all possible combinations of your search at once. The idea behind this is to find more material, and also to save you time in having to run many different searches.

Boolean searches for our topic

  • Use OR to add similar and related terms into your search
  • If you have keywords that are two words or longer enclose them in double quotes: " "
  • Use parentheses ( ) to group your related terms together, otherwise the search often won't work

("compulsory acquisition" OR "land acquisition")

  • Then, combine OR searches together using the operator AND:

("compulsory acquisition" OR "land acquisition") AND (compensation OR severance OR disturbance OR "highest and best use") AND ("Just Terms Compensation" OR "non-urban" OR sewerage OR farm)

To see how these searches can be used to find material in the Library, see the Search for Information page (linked on the right of screen).

If you don't get good results, remove a keyword from the search, or try to think of more related terms.