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BLDG 4020 - Research Methods

Academic Journals, Trade Publications, Newspapers and Magazines


The library has a number of databases with resources to help you complete yourPeriodical sources available at the Library technical report. Through our databases, you have access to the Toronto daily newspapers which cover local infrastructure, regulatory and legislative issues.  We also offer a number of trade and academic journals to help you with your topic. Outlined below are the ways in which a trade or an academic journal can help you with your research. See our Library Research Videos for help searching for these resources.

[Image 1 to 4]

Trade PublicationsScreen shot of an article from the trade journal Sustainable Construction

  • written for/by professionals in the field.
  • focuses on a particular industry or group of industries.
  • includes industry trends, products, techniques, news, updates.
  • Report on changes in legislation, standards, etc. that will affect the industry
  • reports on current building projects
  • NOTE: may promote an editorial viewpoint.

[Image 5]

Academic/Scholarly JournalsScreen shot of an academic article fromthe scholarly journal Building and Environment

  • written by experts in the field
  • published by academic institutions
  • contain references and citations
  • often report research findings
  • often “peer-reviewed”
  • often multiple authors
  • also referred to as: scholarly



[Image 6]


Building a Search String for the Database

In order to search for trade journals, academic journals or newspaper articles, you will need to create a search string to use in the library databases.  Below is an example of how you take a research topic and create a search string for use in our database.

Sample Topic:  The cost benefits of Building Information Modeling 

  • Identify key concepts

  • Building information  modeling

  • Cost benefits

  • Identify “like concepts”  

  • Building Information Modeling OR BIM

  • Cost-benefit OR cost analysis OR  “return on investment” OR roi

  • Look at words you want to truncate *

  • Effect*(effective or effectiveness)

  • Combine key concepts AND – all these words (implied in most databases)

  • Combine like concepts with OR and ()

  • Use “ “ for phrases (“return on investment”)

  • Decide where you want to look (limit to ABSTRACT, SUBJECT HEADINGS)

Search String 

(bim OR “building information modeling”) AND (“return on investment”  OR  ROI OR cost analysis OR cost benefit* OR cost effect*) 

Once you have identified key concepts…….

Be willing to play around with keywords - especially in trade journals, magazines or newspapers

Sample Topic:  Risk allocation in Public-Private Partnerships for infrastructure projects.

–PPP, P3, public-private partnership
–Public-private sector cooperation
Index terms can help you refine or redefine your topic!

Searching the Library Databases

Once you have developed your search string, you can enter it in the box below to search a number of library databases simultaneously.  These include key databases like Applied Engineering and Technology and Science Direct.


Searching Canadian Sources

Many of the topics for the technical report have a specific Canadian focus. You may need to find information at the provincial or municipal level.  While a search in the main library search box will retrieve some of the resources available in our collection, you will want to use the built-in CBCA Complete and Canadian Newsstand buttons to search these two databases, both of which have a strong focus on Canadian content.  


  • Click the Canadian Source + link to search CBCA Complete and Canadian Major Dailies.


Help Videos: Search for Library Resources

Tracking a Topic in the Databases


Many of our databases allow you to save your search and to set up an e-mail alert when new research comes out in the database.   
Step 1: 
ØSet up an account in the databases 

oSave research and searches


Step 2: 
ØSet up search alerts

oResults sent directly to your e-mail

Images Cited

Image 1.  International Broadsheet Newspapers On Wire Rack Outside News Agent's Shop. Photograph. Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest. Web. 24 Mar 2014.

Image 2. Toronto Life. (2014).  Magazine Cover from September 2013 issue [digital image]. Retrieved March 24, 2014  from

Image 3. Reed Business Information. n.d.  Daily Commercial News Magazine Cover . [digital image].  Retrieved April 14, 2014 from

Image 4.  Journal of Construction Engineering and Management. n.d. Journal Cover. [digital image]. Retrieved March 24, 2014 from

Image 5.  Asphalt Contractor. (2015).  Screenshot of pages #6 and 7 . [digital image]. Retrieved November 25, 2016  from Applied Science and Technology Database

Image 6..  Building and Environment (2014).  Journal Page #317.  [digital image]. Retrieved November 2016  from the Science Direct Database.