by Bilal Succar at BIM Think Space


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 ( 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.


Research Method

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

Research Directions

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:

Global-Research-Trends -1a Global-Research-Trends -1b
1a 1b

 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 maturitywith, 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.



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