Open data standards (e.g. LandXML, TransXML, CityGML) are a key to addressing the interoperability issue in exchanging civil information modeling (CIM) data throughout the project life-cycle. Since these schemas include rich sets of data types covering a wide range of assets and disciplines, model view definitions (MVDs) which define subsets of a schema are required to specify what types of data to be shared in accordance with a specific exchange scenario. The traditional procedure for generating and implementing MVDs is time-consuming and laborious as entities and attributes relevant to a particular data exchange context are manually identified by domain experts. This paper presents a method that can locate relevant information from a source XML data schema for a specific domain based on the user's keyword. The study employs a semantic resource of civil engineering terms to understand the semantics of a keyword-based query. The study also introduces a novel context-based search technique for retrieving related entities and their referenced objects. The developed method was tested on a gold standard of several LandXML subschemas. The experiment results show that the semantic MVD retrieval algorithm achieves a mean average precision of nearly 90%. The research is original, being a novel method for extracting partial civil information models given a keyword from the end user. The method is expected to become a fundamental tool assisting professionals in extracting data from complex digital datasets.