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Automation in Construction 16 (2007) 806 815

Developing a knowledge map for construction scheduling

using a novel approach
Jyh-Bin Yang
Institute of Construction Management, Chung Hua University, No. 707, Sec. 2, Wu-Fu Rd. Hsinchu 300, Taiwan
Accepted 8 February 2007

A knowledge map is a vital tool for better knowledge management and learning. While application of knowledge maps in the construction
domain remains in the initial stages of development, the construction industry is experience-oriented and therefore suited to knowledge maps. This
study presents a novel approach for developing a knowledge map for construction scheduling. According to framework-based classification, this
study utilizes a science-specific search engine to search for literature on construction scheduling knowledge. Search results are then used to
develop a file cabinet knowledge map consisting of a contour map, and several trend and density charts. This map representation compensates for
the lack of various meanings in a single knowledge map. For novices interested in learning construction scheduling knowledge, results of this
study provide constructive information to know the key issues and research trends in the construction domain. In summary, this study presents a
suitable procedure for extracting knowledge from public knowledge sources for development of a knowledge map. The proposed approach can be
used for rapid generation of knowledge maps.
2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Knowledge map; Knowledge management; Construction management; Scheduling technique

1. Introduction
Schedule planning and control is a major task in successful
construction project management. Since the 1950s, the critical
path method (CPM) and program evaluation and review
technique (PERT) have been extensively adopted for project
scheduling and control. Excluding modifications on CPM and
PERT, new robust scheduling approaches have not been
developed by academics and practitioners in the recent decades.
Investigations to enhance the performance of available scheduling techniques as necessary as requirements for researchers
change in the construction industry. Researchers or new learners
require an aid, a clear image of a study or learning target, as a
basis for further study. The innovative concept of knowledge
management is a good choice.
Owing to the rapid evolution of the knowledge industry,
knowledge engineers are confronted with the challenge of how
to construct a well-linked knowledge network that allows a
Tel.: +886 3 5186684; fax: +886 3 5370517.
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0926-5805/$ - see front matter 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

learner to acquire knowledge quickly. Many techniques have

been developed to help the construction of knowledge networks. A knowledge map that creates relationships among
isolated knowledge and represents knowledge via a hierarchy
structure is a knowledge representation type that is most
valuable. A knowledge map can clarify vague knowledge,
enabling users and learners to easily find desired knowledge.
Recently, domain knowledge about construction management
has received considerable attention. Schedule management is an
important topic within construction management. When a
comprehensive knowledge map for construction scheduling
domain can be constructed, domain development matures and
learners improve their knowledge.
Although approaches have been used to develop knowledge
maps, their usability for public knowledge sources is not
proven. Knowledge engineers are required to test this usability
because public knowledge sources (public search engines) will
be the most prosperous future knowledge sources. Furthermore,
the knowledge map in the domain of construction scheduling,
such as a hierarchy for project scheduling and monitoring
proposed by Ahuja and Thiruvengadam [1], is insufficient for

J.-B. Yang / Automation in Construction 16 (2007) 806815

knowledge learners. One important functionality of a knowledge map is to enhance the quality of learning materials for
potential learners. This study tried to compensate for the lack of
variety in a single type of knowledge map for construction
scheduling techniques.
The rest of this paper is organized as follows. Section 2 presents
a review of literature in the knowledge management and
construction management domains to collect and summarize information on knowledge maps and construction scheduling techniques. Section 3 describes the data sources used for developing a
knowledge map for construction scheduling techniques. Section 4
presents the novel approach for rapidly constructing a knowledge
map. A knowledge map for construction scheduling techniques,
including a knowledge framework with a contour map, and several
trend and density charts, is organized on web pages with pictorial
representations. Section 5 presents conclusions and future research
2. Literature review
2.1. Construction scheduling
Scheduling, as loosely defined by Sule, involves defining
priorities or arranging activities to meet certain requirements,
constraints or objects [2]. Scheduling is a vital tool for
successful project management. For a construction project,
project planning, particularly schedule planning, is at the heart
of good project management because it provides the central
communication coordinating the work of all parties [3]. How to
optimally schedule a project is a basic skill of construction
management professionals.
Betts and Lansley [4] reviewed all of the articles published in
the journal of Construction Management and Economics (CME)
from 1983 to 1992. They indicated that these articles published
by CME are mainly concerned with production-related issues in
the construction industry. The topic of project planning,
scheduling and systems is hot all through the analyzed time.
Pietroforte and Stefani [5] reviewed all of the articles published
in the ASCE Journal of Construction Engineering and
Management (CEM) between 1983 and 2000. They determined
that the issue of time scheduling (including the subjects and
topics of cost/time scheduling, critical path method, line of
balance technique, linear and vertical scheduling, network
planning and analysis, other deterministic time scheduling
techniques, other nondeterministic time scheduling techniques,
PERT and GERT, and time duration estimate, variability) were
common during the investigation period. Simultaneously,
Abudayyeh et al. [6] analyzed the research trends in the
construction domain in the CEM journal from 1985 to 2002.
They identified scheduling as the leading research topic. This
topic has received considerable attention internationally with
4.65% of the 879 articles analyzing scheduling-related
The domain of construction scheduling is an important
research topic. Furthermore, courses in construction planning
and scheduling focus on construction scheduling techniques
and are core courses in construction management graduate


programs at universities worldwide. Learners must be given a

clear picture of learning courses in the beginning of their
studies. That is, comprehensive knowledge is a requisite during
learning and studying. Application of knowledge management
using a knowledge map meets this requirement.
2.2. Knowledge management
The Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English defines
knowledge as the facts, information, skills, and understanding
that one has gained, especially through learning or experience
[7]. Alavi and Leidner [8] considered knowledge from the
following five perspectives: state of mind; an object; a process; a
condition of having access to information; and, a capability.
Managing knowledge depends on the viewpoints of knowledge
engineers and end-users. Davenport and Prusak defined
knowledge as a fluid mix of framed experience, values,
contextual information and expert insight [9]. Knowledge exists
when different transformative processes, such as comparison,
consequence, connection and conversation works. They also
asserted that knowledge management is much more than
technology; however, techknowledge is clearly a part of
knowledge management. Technology can diversify knowledge
management. With the rapid renovation of Information
Technology (IT), knowledge of how to best manage knowledge
by IT is an important issue in academic and industrial domains.
Recent studies examining knowledge management technologies, applications and systems have been reviewed in detail
elsewhere [8,10].
In the construction industry, engineering/management consulting firms are knowledge-based companies whose primary
product is knowledge. Knowledge management in such firms is
identical to that in general manufacturing or service enterprises,
and has recently attracted intensive study. Other firms regard
knowledge management as a competitive advantage rather than
a survival tool. This circumstance results in an industry crisis.
The major difficulty in implementing knowledge management
in the construction industry is formulation and implementation
of a strategy [11]. Although previous studies attempted to select
or to develop an appropriate strategy for the construction
industry [11,12], managerial courage is required to face this
challenge and achieve changes.
Knowledge management associated with learning construction scheduling techniques in this study is an issue of how to best
provide access to required knowledge via a user-friendly
interface. Several accepted methods exist for knowledge representation, including rules, frames, semantic networks, concept
diagrams (concept mapping) and knowledge maps (knowledge
mapping) [13,14]. The knowledge map method, a navigation aid
to explicit and tacit knowledge [15], meets this study's
2.3. Knowledge map
Davenport and Prusak defined a knowledge map as a
knowledge yellow pages or a cleverly constructed database [9].
A knowledge map, which can be used to point to knowledge,


J.-B. Yang / Automation in Construction 16 (2007) 806815

does not contain knowledge. Knowledge maps are created by

transferring certain aspects of knowledge into a graphic form that
is easily understandable by end-users [16]. That is, knowledge
maps are consciously designed communication mediums between map makers and map users [17]. A knowledge map plays
important roles in implementing knowledge management. All
captured knowledge can be summarized and abstracted through a
knowledge map [14]. Knowledge maps gather explicit and
collected knowledge which can be shared, and facilitate
emergence of tacit knowledge of new relationships. Effective
knowledge mapping brings map users several returns including
economic, structural, organizational culture and knowledge
returns [17]. Moreover, partial knowledge returns accelerate
learning curves by helping users locate an effective route, plan,
and scenario or sequence of actions, and assist participants in
communicating with others regarding the new relationships and
ideas using a shared vocabulary. Partial knowledge returns also
help users identify new areas in the emerging search for actionable
information. Therefore, the benefit of knowledge returns is
achievable when a knowledge map for construction scheduling
techniques is constructed.
Several representational methods exist for knowledge maps,
including the file cabinet knowledge map, cognitive map,
knowledge networking chart, scatter chart, contour chart, list
chart, category map [18], topic map [19] and concept map [20].
This study uses the simple file cabinet knowledge map as the
basis for knowledge management in relation to construction
scheduling. The main cause of using the method is due to its
friendly to use and easy to read for users.
The key issue in developing a knowledge map is locating
important knowledge and then organizing this information.
Several approaches exist for knowledge map development.
Rouse et al. [21] proposed a procedure for constructing a
knowledge map for R&D/technology management. Their
procedure consists of the following six steps: extraction of
knowledge; compilation of knowledge; derivation of assertions;
sorting and labelling; representation of relationships; interpretation; and, iteration. Moreover, Kim et al. proposed a procedure
for building a knowledge map that is useful for developing a
knowledge management system for an organization [14].
However, available approaches for knowledge map development are not targeted to public knowledge sources. This
study proposes a novel procedure that is suitable for extracting
knowledge from public knowledge sources when developing a
knowledge map. The proposed procedure has the following six
steps: defining organizational knowledge; process map analysis; knowledge extraction; knowledge profiling; knowledge
linking; and, knowledge map validation. Fig. 1 shows the
detailed procedure.

Fig. 1. Knowledge map development approach.

scholarly use is difficult using these general search engines. For

researchers, specialty search engines such as Scirus, Google
Scholar and Internet Archive are relatively more convenient.
Scirus is a comprehensive science-specific Internet search
engine that was voted the best specialty search engine in 2001
and 2002 [22]. In addition to web pages, Scirus indexes the
following special sources: 14.6 million MEDLINE citations,
5.5 million ScienceDirect full-text articles, 1.2 million patents
from the USPTO, 261,000 e-prints on, 5,352
BioMed Central full-text articles, 5,352 BioMed Central fulltext articles, 10,600 NASA technical reports and 14,878 fulltext articles from Project Euclid [23]. The ScienceDirect
Online database is a subscription information source for
scientific, technical and medical research that offers access to
millions of articles from over 1800 journals, including popular
construction-specific journals (such as Automation in Construction, Building and Environment and International Journal
of Project Management), is an ideal database for exploration.
This study uses the Scirus search engine to survey existing
literature regarding construction scheduling techniques.
3.2. Search criteria
Scirus search engine provides a comprehensive interface that
allows users to search web-based and journal-based sources.
Although web pages may include significant amounts of nonpeer-reviewed information, web-based data is excluded in this
study. This study uses the following search criteria.

3. Data sources
3.1. Database introduction
The Internet has several powerful search engines, including
Google, AllTheWeb, Yahoo, TeomaSM, and AltaVista
[22]. Finding specific resources (e.g., refereed papers) for a

Published years: The database covers the period from 1920

to now. Owing to the fact that information is scarce during
the early years, the search period was divided unequally. The
years 19201970 are organized as an independent time
frame, while other years are organized into individual 5-year
time frames.

J.-B. Yang / Automation in Construction 16 (2007) 806815

Information types: The database includes the types of

abstracts, articles, books, company homepages, conferences,
patents, preprints, and scientist homepages. Although
journal article information may not include all information
types, this study uses all types and excludes non-journal
File formats: The database contains two types of file formats,
HTML and PDF. This study searches for journal articles
displayed in HTML or as PDF.
Content sources: The database includes articles from the
following journal sources: BioMed Central, Crystallography
Journals Online, MEDLINE, Project Euclid, ScienceDirect,
Scitation, Society for Industrial & App. Mathematics, EPrint ArXiv, CogPrints, NASA, US Patent Office, European
Patent Office, Japanese Patent Office, and Patent Cooperation Treaty Office. This study uses all sources to maximize
the amount of knowledge contained in the search space.
Subject areas: Domain areas in the database include
agricultural and biological sciences, astronomy, chemistry
and chemical engineering, computer science, earth and
planetary sciences, economics, business and management,
engineering, energy and technology, environmental sciences,
languages and linguistics, law, life sciences, materials
science, mathematics, medicine, neuroscience, pharmacology, physics, psychology, social and behavioral sciences, and
sociology. This study adopts the areas of economics,
business and management and engineering, energy and
technology as target areas.


3. Running a search scenario to extract knowledge in the

4. Checking search results to eliminate unsuitable records
based on author's judgement. Eliminated records include
scheduling techniques not used in the construction industry,
and those with matching keywords not desired for
scheduling techniques.
5. Saving refined records in a database software system. The
saved information includes title, author(s) and sources for
any found article.
4. Approach for knowledge map development
Knowledge management is an emerging field that has received
considerable attention from research and industry communities.
However, how to best exhibit the explored knowledge remains
controversial. The most popular knowledge representational
approach is the knowledge map, which can pictorially depict
absorbed knowledge to help users in digesting and learning the
knowledge more quickly and conveniently than others. Based on
the approaches proposed by two studies [14,21], this study
employed a six step approach, shown as Fig. 1, to develop a
knowledge map for construction scheduling techniques. The
proposed approach is as follows.
4.1. Knowledge framework establishment
This study collected several textbooks [3,2427] regarding
construction scheduling and listed all tables of contents as
original sources for developing a knowledge framework
consisting of 23 construction scheduling techniques. To cover
new or advanced issues of construction scheduling, this study
also reviewed numerous articles [1,5,2835] related to
construction scheduling to induce a comprehensive framework.
Fig. 2 shows the proposed framework of construction scheduling techniques.

3.3. Knowledge exploration processes

The purpose of this knowledge exploration procedure is to
find records related to construction scheduling in the database.
Although the employed search engine provides comprehensive
search approaches, a simplified search process (focusing on
keyword searching) was used to retrieve desired publication
information. The knowledge exploration processes in the webbased database are summarized as follows.

4.2. Knowledge sources determination

This study used the Scirus search engine as the knowledge
exploration source. Fig. 3 shows the number of records found

1. Setting basic criteria described in the Section 3.2.

2. Entering a keyword (the knowledge field) listed in Table 1.

Table 1
Construction scheduling-related records
Knowledge field









(1) Simulation
(2) Delay analysis
(3) Resource-constrained scheduling
(4) Critical path method
(5) Resource leveling
(6) Program evaluation and review technique
(7) Time-cost trade-off
(8) Graphical evaluation and review technique
(9) Network planning and analysis
(10) Linear scheduling techniques
(11) Critical chain scheduling










J.-B. Yang / Automation in Construction 16 (2007) 806815

extraction) is based on records obtained using construction

scheduling as keywords.
4.3. Knowledge extraction
For elaborating the information in the knowledge source, the
keywords (knowledge field) in Table 1 are used to mine crude
knowledge. Table 1 lists the detailed record numbers obtained,
whereas Table 2 lists the sum value from Table 1, the number of
found records using construction scheduling keywords, and
the value of the Significant Index for studied periods. Eq. (1)
shows the calculation algorithm for the Significant Index that is
calculated using the sum of found records via the individual
knowledge field (Rindi) divided by the records found via the
construction scheduling keyword (Rcs).
Significant Index

Fig. 2. Knowledge framework of construction scheduling techniques.

using scheduling and construction and scheduling as

keywords. The average percentage of the number of records
found with construction scheduling compared with that found
with scheduling is about 15%. The Scirus search engine
contains general domain publications, namely, there are many
journal sources included in the system. Whereas, the value of
15% implies there are certain records that can be found if the
previous setting is kept. Obviously, the knowledge of construction scheduling in the Scirus search engine is extremely
attractive to researchers. The following process (knowledge


For instance, between 1981 and 1985, 128 records are found
by Scirus using construction scheduling as keywords.
Simultaneously, 51, 16 and 2 records are found using
simulation, delay analysis and resource-constrained
scheduling as keywords based on 128 records. Table 2
shows the Significant Index value for each period studied.
Obviously, the sum of the number of records obtained using
individual knowledge fields is not equal to the number obtained
using construction scheduling (Table 1). If further analysis is
based on information in Table 1, the search results are
significant because the average Significant Index value is
N60%. Therefore, the following processes are analyzed based
on the records listed in Table 1.
4.4. Knowledge compilation
Following knowledge extraction, the proposed process
compiles mined knowledge in a pictorial form to enhance the
transparency of knowledge for users. For instance, Fig. 4 shows
a contour map displaying all extracted knowledge in a
meaningful map that allows users to decipher the variations in
every knowledge field at different time frames and to read the
correlations between any two fields.

Fig. 3. Data profile of scheduling techniques.

J.-B. Yang / Automation in Construction 16 (2007) 806815


Table 2
Significant Index values for studied periods









Sum of the number of individual

knowledge field (Rindi)
Number of found construction
scheduling records (Rcs)
Significant Index
























For each knowledge field, this process was also used to

assemble obtained information and show its characteristics. For
instance, a trend chart (Fig. 5) exhibits the trends for a specific
knowledge field (the simulation technique), whereas a density
chart (Fig. 6), exhibits the publication density of a specific
knowledge field (the resource-constrained scheduling technique) during different time frames. The trend chart also
provides users with an image of the trend in studied knowledge.
For instance, the long-term trend of the simulation technique
became increasingly popular over time (Fig. 5).
Conversely, the density chart identifies the hottest period
regarding studied knowledge. For instance, Fig. 6 shows
research density of the resource-constrained scheduling
technique. Clearly, the time frame of 19962000 is the hottest
period, during which 50 records are found in Scirus, a value that
is roughly 10% of all records found using the resourceconstrained scheduling keyword phrase. In summary, this
knowledge compilation process renders extracted knowledge
readable; by using these charts, knowledge users can judge the
value of interesting field.
4.5. Knowledge representation
This study made a pictorial representation of extracted and
complied knowledge. All knowledge was organized using a
web page editing system. Therefore, knowledge users can easily
reach desired knowledge via any web browser. For each
knowledge field, trend and density charts were created to depict

Fig. 4. Contour map for construction scheduling techniques.

implicit knowledge. Additionally, a database for accessing the

records was created to depict explicit knowledge (obtained
journal articles of construction scheduling techniques). Fig. 7
shows a snapshot of organized knowledge viewed via a web
4.6. Knowledge interpretation
This study created a knowledge map for construction
scheduling techniques. Through the proposed processes, a
more mature knowledge map (Fig. 8) than traditional file cabinet
knowledge map was constructed. This map helps map users
understand the development history of construction scheduling
techniques. The proposed or publication years of discussed
techniques in the construction scheduling domain are in the map.
Furthermore, this map also provides a detailed classification
framework of construction scheduling techniques. Specifically,
the map provides users with a comprehensive understanding of
each scheduling technique. This study transferred the map into a
format of a file cabinet knowledge map (left in Fig. 7). Map users
can easily browse the desired knowledge and view the complied
knowledge chart. Moreover, based on the contour map (Fig. 4),
users can identify popular scheduling techniques; for instance,
the simulation technique in construction scheduling has recently
received considerable attention.
A trend chart shows development tendencies within each
knowledge field. The trend for simulation technique is gradually
increasing (Fig. 5). A density chart indicates a research focus
during different time frames. For example, the resourceconstrained scheduling technique (Fig. 6) has the largest ratio
(the resource-constrained scheduling to all construction scheduling techniques found) during the period of 19962000,
meaning that during this period, the ratio of obtained articles
for resource-constrained scheduling to all construction

Fig. 5. Trend chart for simulation technique.


J.-B. Yang / Automation in Construction 16 (2007) 806815

Fig. 6. Density chart for resource-constrained scheduling technique.

scheduling records is 9.45%, the largest among all time frames

analyzed. Furthermore, the figure also reveals that the densities of the resource-constrained scheduling technique vary
among time frames, and the time frame with the largest
concentration is 19962000. For this period, 50 research records
were found.
Obviously, the trend chart shows the direction of research,
and the density chart shows the relative ratio and degree of
concentration of research for a particular technique.
5. Conclusion and recommendations
Knowledge of construction management (or Professional
Construction Management) has received considerable attention

in the construction industry. Scheduling knowledge is the most

essential issue owing to the fact that it is at the core of
construction management, especially for project planning and
control. Constructing a well-rounded knowledge map for
construction scheduling techniques can make domain knowledge development more matured and provide learners with
more comprehensive knowledge. This study generated a main
classification of construction scheduling knowledge using
several textbooks, and then employed the Scirus, a sciencespecific search engine, to search for the literature about
construction scheduling techniques for generating a knowledge
map. Based on the knowledge map development approach
employed in this study, several valuable lessons were learned.
Although the knowledge map constructed is not comprehensive as this is a pilot study based on a single web-based
search engine, the map provides a good reference for
learning construction scheduling techniques.
The knowledge map development approach employed in this
study was successfully examined for constructing a knowledge map based on a public search engine. This approach
will be valuable for similar studies that use searchable
databases to construct knowledge maps.
Knowledge sources determine the value of extracted knowledge. This study used a public search engine to construct a
knowledge map. This search engine is not specially designed
for the construction industry. This circumstance results in
the outcome of this study having limited reliability. Incorporating additional databases containing increased numbers of

Fig. 7. Data access to rough data.

J.-B. Yang / Automation in Construction 16 (2007) 806815


Fig. 8. Knowledge map for construction scheduling techniques.

construction-related journals will increase knowledge map

Complied knowledge lacks balance for previous studies
investigating different fields of construction scheduling
knowledge. For instance, from 19962004, literature focused
on simulation and delay analysis' knowledge fields. Other

fields received litter attention. A mature industry or research

issue requires diverse inputs to improve its outputs. That is, all
scheduling fields require increased contributions from
researchers, not just the hottest field.
Knowledge map construction requires a knowledge engineer
familiar with both domain knowledge and knowledge


J.-B. Yang / Automation in Construction 16 (2007) 806815

regarding employed technology. Developing a knowledge

map in the construction industry requires knowledge
engineers with a construction industry background. Such
engineers are rare. However, if construction professionals
can improve their ability to manage knowledge, knowledge
management in the construction industry will improve.
Knowledge management is a non-resisting trend for all
industries. The construction industry, frequently regarded as
a traditional industry, has few stories regarding successful
knowledge management. Promoting construction expertise
is essential to acquire knowledge of knowledge management
in a scenario of rapid advances in industry innovation.
The most elaborate knowledge maps for construction scheduling learners can be quite complex due to changes in knowledge
over time. Research investigating scheduling, even that for
construction scheduling, remains extremely popular. A comprehensive knowledge map must be developed for subsequent studies.
This pilot study attempts to develop a preliminary knowledge map
using a web-based search engine. Some recommendations based
on this study are provided for further research.
Since the knowledge map is based on a single search engine
that accesses a finite number of construction-related journals,
convincing map users the map's integrity is difficult. Further
research is needed that accesses additional constructionrelated journals to improve the comprehensiveness of the
knowledge map.
Although the knowledge map is quite simple because several
structured and popular digital databases, such as the ISI Web
of KnowledgeSM (including SCI, SSCI and A&HCI indexes),
ProQuest's ABI/INFORM, ICONDA (The International
CONstruction DAtabase) and ASCE's CE Database, are
not included. This study is a good step toward development of
a perfect map. Inclusion of additional databases is necessary
to construct a comprehensive knowledge map.
The returns a knowledge map offers map users must be
evaluated. A feasible evaluation methodology must be
developed to justify construction-related maps.
A knowledge map is the knowledge yellow pages created by
transferring certain aspects of knowledge into a graphic form.
This study proposed a novel approach for quickly generating
knowledge maps. The proposed approach was demonstrated by
generating a knowledge map for construction scheduling techniques. A file cabinet representation was combined with several
meaningful charts that compensate for the lack of variety of
meanings in a single knowledge map type. For those interested
in construction scheduling knowledge, results of this study
provide constructive information to identify the key issues and
research trends in the area, and, thus, provide a basis for further
The author would like to thank the National Science Council,
Taiwan, ROC, for partial financial support of this research under

Contract Nos. NSC92-2211-E-216-011-CC3 and NSC93-2211E-216-012-CC3. The author would also like to thank Mr. KunHung Wu, a master of the Institute of Construction Management,
Chung Hua University, for helping with related information and
executing necessary web searches for this research.
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