In this guest post, Amarnath CB (PhD candidate, National Taiwan University) provides an overview of Global BIM research trends by analyzing a large number of BIM-focused publications. The simple methodology adopted, shear extent of review effort and visual nature of analysis provide an excellent overview of BIM research coverage. The approach taken represents a solid basis for researchers to expand this study by analyzing more publications and identify the knowledge gaps to be addressed in the BIM domain [Editor].
There is an increasing need to critically evaluate the BIM research covering a building’s Project Lifecycle. This is intended to combine present-day’s “body of knowledge” and deliver a comprehensive perspective of global BIM research conducted to date.
This post is a short summary of a much larger scoping study covering 1500 papers published over the past 25 years by BIM researchers from 65 countries. The papers selected for analysis include journal publications, conference proceedings, research reports, master’s and doctoral theses. To analyze such a large set and analyze any trends discovered, the research team combined three components into a new framework: (a) the BIM Research Compass by Iskidag & Underwood (2010); (b) the Model Uses Taxonomy by Succar (https://bimthinkspace.com/) and (c) Project Lifecycle Phases categorization (adapted from Succar, 2009). We used this framework and a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods to analyze and then visualize 1000 featured BIM publications. Based on this analysis, we identified the highly-, moderately- and least-explored Research Directions, Model Uses and Project Lifecycle Phases. Subsequently, we generated a number of interactive maps to explain our findings and provided a number of conclusions. These are presented below after briefly explaining the research method and raw results.
In this study, three BIM research frameworks were adopted for BIM publications categorization: (a) the “BIM Research Compass” developed by Isikdag and Underwood (2010) is a classification system reflecting current directions in BIM-focused research; (b) the model uses taxonomy introduced in BIM ThinkSpace which includes 52 General Model Uses (GMUs), 73 Domain Model Uses (DMUs) and unlimited number of Custom Model Uses (CMUs); and (c) the Project Lifecycle Phases framework introduced by Succar (2009) is a classification system reflecting three major lifecycle phases: Design, Construction and Operations. For better understanding towards BIM publications compilation process in this study, we encourage you to read our publication, i.e. Amarnath et al. 2016.
Results and discussions
The below image clarifies the distribution of 1000 featured BIM papers according to the 12 Research Directions: Figure 1a (left) shows the percentage published in each Research Direction, and Figure 1b (right) identifies the number of papers published by the top three contributing countries:
Figure 1. Distribution of BIM papers according to Research Directions
Upon analysis of Research Directions, Process Simulation & Monitoring was the top Direction accounting for 22% on its own (Figure 1a) with China generating most publications, followed by Korea, UK and Taiwan (Figure 1b). The second and third most-highly researched Directions Were Building Information Services (16%) and Standardization (14%) in the UK, US and the Netherlands.
These numbers are useful to confirm some of the trends witnessed across markets. For example, the strong showing of standardization in the above graph is hardly surprising with the proliferation of BIM mandates for government sector projects (Cheng & Lu, 2015) which – through explicit and implicit policies - stress the need for standardized components and processes. One interesting trend observed in Figure 1b is that - among the top three Research Directions, researchers in established North American and European markets focus more on Standardization and Building Information Services, while researchers in emerging Asian markets focus more on the Process Simulation and Monitoring. One possible reason for this difference may well be market maturity with, on one hand, North American and European countries - already realizing the basic benefits of BIM tools and workflows – are now moving towards deeper interoperability and process standardization. On the other hand, Asian countries are still to realize the main benefits of BIM and are this still focused on construction process visualization and optimization.
Reflecting these finding and trends, the below Interactive Map A (takes a few seconds to load) organizes the 1000 featured BIM papers according to the 12 Research Directions identified by Isikdag and Underwood. The map allows users to select a Research Direction and visualize the list of BIM papers falling under it. The users can also click on a country they are interested in and view the BIM papers within a selected Research Direction:
Interactive Map A: Categorization of BIM publications into Research Directions (external link)
General Model Uses (GMUs)
There are 52 General Model Uses (GMU)s defined in episode 24 of BIM ThinkSpace (also refer to Succar et al., 2016). The study - upon which this post is based - categorized 119 BIM papers according to 16 GMUs (see Figure 2a): 45% of these papers fell under Parametric Modelling; 11% under Architectural Modelling; and the remaining 44% were distributed across remaining 14 GMUs. Among all 52 GMUs, Parametric Modelling proved to be the leading (highly researched) General Model Use:
Figure 2. BIM publications categorization into GMUs (left) and CMUs (right)
Custom Model Uses (CMUs)
Additionally, this study organized featured BIM papers according to 54 Custom Model Use categories identified by this study (please refer to Notes). Within the 1000 papers reviewed, 445 were tagged by these CMUs and - as illustrated in Figure 2b - BIM Implementation was the most researched CMU with 29% of all papers falling under this category. Also, BIM for Collaboration Communication and Coordination (hereinafter BIM for CCC) was a close second with 28% of all papers covered.
Domain Model Uses (DMUs)
Episode 24 identified 73 Domain Model Uses (DMU)s organized under 7 model use series. This study identified two additional DMUs - Construction Monitoring and PLC Management – that can be added into the Monitoring & Controlling series. These 75 DMUs were used as ‘tags’ and applied to 865 of the 1000 featured BIM papers. The tagging helped identify both Simulating & Quantifying and Planning & Designing as two highly explored/researched Model Use series, applicable to 65% of all BIM papers.
Figure 3 below clarifies the distribution of publications according to the Model Use series (the large graph in the center) and the distribution against each Domain Model Use within each series (the seven smaller graphs on the periphery). Figure 3 reveals that Design Authoring, Laser Scanning, Cost Estimation, Construction Logistics, Asset Maintenance, Construction Monitoring and BIM/FM Integration are explored more extensively by global researchers.
Based on the aforementioned, the below Interactive Map B (takes a few seconds to load) was developed to reflect how the 75 Domain Model Uses appear across 865 papers. This interactive map provides an opportunity for users to isolate the BIM papers which fall under a particular DMU category. The users can also select a country on a map and view all BIM papers published out of that country.
Interactive Map B: Categorization of BIM papers according to Model Uses (External link)
Project Lifecycle Phases
As presented in Figure 4 below, the study classifies the featured BIM papers according to Project Lifecycle Phases categorization: Design Phase, Construction Phase and Operations Phase (Succar, 2009). However, few publications fell into another group i.e. Whole Lifecycle. In Whole Lifecycle group, BIM research papers falling under combinations of Design, Construction and Operations Phases were included. Out of the 1000 papers, 54% cover the Design Phase (see Figure 4a) and thus indicate higher research saturation when compared to other Project Lifecycle Phases where BIM research is still evolving. Figure 4b (right) identifies the 20 countries (covering 89% of BIM papers considered in this study) with number of BIM papers published in Project Lifecycle Phases. When it comes to overall research turnover, the USA and UK have published a large percentage – 21% and 14% respectively – of the 1000 BIM papers reviewed (see Figure 4b).
Figure 4. Distribution of BIM papers across the Project Lifecycle Phases
Based on the this, the below Interactive Map C (takes a few seconds to load) was developed to clarify the distribution of 1000 featured BIM papers across the Project Lifecycle Phases. This interactive map provides an opportunity for users to select a Project Lifecycle Phase and view a list of BIM papers falling under it. The users can also select a country on a map and view the BIM papers published out of that country.
Interactive Map C: Distribution of BIM publications across Project Lifecycle Phases (external link)
This study provided an overview of global BIM research trends through a systematic review of 1000 featured BIM papers. Three interactive maps were developed to showcase the distribution of these papers according to Research Directions, Model Uses and Project Lifecycle Phases. The papers reflect the published BIM research over the past 25 years. According to our study, the US, UK, China and Australia have released a large percentage of all BIM papers during the investigated period. Also, among the 12 Research Direction, Process Simulation and Monitoring, Building Information Services and Standardization are the most researched Directions to date. With respect to Model Uses, Parametric Modelling proved to be the most explored General Model Use and BIM Implementation and BIM for CCC are the most studied CMUs (research topics). As for Domain Model Uses, Planning & Designing and Simulation & Quantifying are the most researched series and Design Authoring, Construction Planning, Cost Estimation and Laser Scanning are the most widely explored. Further investigations on global trends in BIM research can include social networking and keywords analysis.
Notes and Limitations
This post adopts a different definition to Custom Model Uses than that introduced by Succar in Episode 24. This will be rectified or clearly identified in future publications. As a study limitation, this study only has only covered publications available in English and those included in databases accessible by the researchers. While these databases may not be inclusive of all papers released during the period targeted, they still provide a representative sample of published BIM papers. If you discover any inaccuracies in the above post or the study, and you’d like to suggest improvements, please contact the author directly.
This study is part of an ongoing research effort supervised by Prof. Shang-Hsien (Patrick) Hsieh of National Taiwan University (Taiwan). To read the full peer-reviewed article upon which this post is based, please download: An Overview of Global Research trends in BIM from Analysis of BIM Publications, as presented at the 16th International Conference on Computing in Civil and Building Engineering (ICCCBE2016), Osaka, Japan on July 6th, 2016.
Amarnath CB, Yun-Tsui Chang & Shang-Hsien Hsieh (2016). An Overview of Global Research Trends in BIM from Analysis of BIM Publications. In the proceedings of 16th International Conference on Computing in Civil and Building Engineering, ICCCBE 2016, 6th-8th, July 2016, Osaka, Japan.
BIM ThinkSpace. (2015). Episode 24: Understanding Model Uses. Retrieved from BIM Think Space website: https://www.bimthinkspace.com/, accessed on September 10, 2015.
Cheng, J.C.P. & Lu, Q. (2015). A Review of the Efforts and Roles of the Public Sector for BIM Adoption Worldwide, Journal of Information Technology in Construction, 20 (October), 442–478.
Cooper, H.M. (1988). Organizing knowledge syntheses: A taxonomy of literature reviews. Knowledge in Society, 1 (x), 104-126.
Isikdag, U. & Underwood, J. (2010). A Synopsis of the Handbook of Research on Building Information Modeling. Proceedings of CIB 2010 World Building Congress. May: Salford, MA, 2010.
Succar, B. (2009). Building information modelling framework: A research and delivery foundation for industry stakeholders. Automation in Construction,18(3), 357-375.
Succar, B., Saleeb, N., Sher, W. (2016). Model Uses: Foundations for a Modular Requirements Clarification Language, Australasian Universities Building Education (AUBEA2016), Cairns, Australia, July 6-8, 2016. https://bit.ly/BIMPaperA10
I would like to thank Dr. Bilal Succar for this opportunity to share our research through BIM ThinkSpace to reach the Global BIM community. I am thankful to Prof. Shang-Hsien Hsieh for his support throughout this research process. I would like to thank my co-researchers, Yuntsui Chang for her contributions in this research and Er-Xuan Sung for his assistance in data visualization. Finally, special thanks to my parents for their constant support in life.
Civil Engineer | PhD Candidate at National Taiwan University, Taiwan
Amarnath CB is currently pursuing his PhD studies in CAE Division, Civil Eng. Dept. of National Taiwan University (Taiwan) where he is investigating on maturity assessment of BIM uses in AECO projects. He is progressing towards BIM research with several other directions, i.e. BIM adoption, lean & green, building information services, industry-wide adoption, education & training and real-life cases. He is the founder of India BIM Association (IBIMA). Playing an active role as a member of editorial team for IJM&P and ISCCBE BIM technical committee member. He is also the member of ASCE, CIOB & RICS. Amarnath CB can be contacted through ResearchGate & LinkedIn