I often come across colleagues who do not know how to discover literature on their topic. I do not know how people get themselves into the situation that they feel they have no access to papers or databases. Perhaps they are looking no further than the shelves of their own local library. But there is usually a much larger range of resources available to people than they imagine, often with access to the full-text of the papers. For example:

  • ARCOM CM Abstracts – A free-to-access database of information from journals within the construction management area, as well as PhD theses and ARCOM Conference proceedings (full-text).
  • CIB Iconda library – a comprehensive library of full-text conference proceedings and data from a wide range of journals on all aspects of construction.
  • Mendeley – A social networking site based on bibliographies and crowd-sourcing algorithms that suggest papers based on what you identify as being relevant. A powerful tool for sharing bibliographies and finding people and articles within your topic. This is not restricted to construction management, but cuts across all academic disciplines.
  • – An academic networking site that reaches most Universities in the world, split down to Department level. Many people place their bibliographies on-line here, and this is an excellent way of finding other people who share your research interests, anywhere in the world.

And then there are University repositories where the full-text of papers is made available free, on-line. This is often because national research councils insist that if public money is used to fund research, then the results of that research should be freely available. With open access publishing, this is not a problem, because if there are any charges for open access journals, the author pays, not the reader. However, what many fans of open access often overlook is that commercial publishers do not seek to own the copyright on academic authors’ original work. They only seek to own the copyright in the published version that they invested effort into. This means that you can usually get a copy of what was accepted for publication, even if it does not look the same as the published version. These can be found in the on-line repositories of the University in which the author worked at the time of publication. So if you can see the author’s name and institution, you should be able to get hold of the full text from a repository. And if you cannot see a version in a University’s repository, most authors will glad send you a copy if you drop them a line.

So, in summary, there is an enormous amount of information freely available to researchers, wherever they are.

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