Brainstorming helps you choose good search terms before you begin. For example, look at the list of keywords and phrases we thought of for this paper topic:

"Cartographic visualisation for urban planning and management in Dar es Salaam".


Cartographic Visualisation
Urban Planning
Urban Management


Concept 1: cartographic visualisation / map / maps / mapping / cartography / gis
Concept 2: urban planning / town planning / physical planning
Concept 3: urban management / city management


GIS = Geographical Information System(s) = Geographical Information Science(s)
Visualisation = Mapping

Boolean operators

(concept1) AND (concept 2 OR concept 3)


cartograph* (cartographic, cartography, cartographical)
plan* (plan, plans, planning)
system* (system, systems)
science* (science, sciences)

Search Strategy

(cartographic visualisation OR map* OR cartography OR GIS OR geographical information system* OR geographical information science*)
(urban plan* OR town plan* OR physical plan* OR urban management OR city management)

Successful searching includes brainstorming for keywords and phrases, choosing appropriate databases or search engines, and combining terms effectively. Though information constantly changes on the Web, understanding these steps will give you the skills to effectively find sources for your research. Keep in mind that search engines and library databases regularly update their appearance and add new features. Look for the help pages; they will highlight the best way to search.