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SDG analysis: Bibliometrics of Relevance

To show the distribution of research-output that the Aurora universities and the Aurora network as a whole is contributing to each of the 17 sustainable development goals. (There is overlap with the 7 EU societal challenges).

Main Deliverable

A bibliometric tool to survey and analyse the research output and impact of a unit (department, faculty, university, universities network) in terms of its *) societal relevance, *) academic quality & impact, *) societal impact.

If possible, the tool will offer a mechanism to combine and reconcile the societal categorisations for research of UNESCO´s Sustainable Development Goals and the European Union´s Societal Challenges.

Intended effect:

  1.  To enhance a ‘problem/challenge’ based approach – in contrast to a disciplinary approach – to assessing quality and impact of research as a mechanism to strengthen to focus on (and appreciation for) problem-oriented research, both within Aurora and among policy makers at national and European level.
  2. To increase insight in research strengths and complementarities within the aurora network,  as a tool to help forge strategic alliances within societal relevant themes across the universities in the network.



The bibliometric instrument performs per SDG a query on a bibliometric database eg. Scopus or Web of Science. (SDG queries are created and reviewed by bibliometricians in the Aurora network.) For each SDG the publication skew is determined (based on number of papers published), for those papers  the excellence is determined (top percentiles of journals), the availability of those papers to society (open access), and the refereces to those papers in public policy documents from (N)GO’s. The interactive diagram below shows a proof of concept how this could look like for a limited selection of SDG’s.

Read more about the concept in the Whitepaper  [1]

The illustration below shows the hypothetical feedback-loop between policy and research. Here we illustrate the possible influence policy from societal partners like (N)GO bodies can have on the research output on policy-topics. And on the other hand, that open and excellent research can be fed-back into re-eveluation or creating new policy. Thus research influencing society in an in-direct level.

[1] Maurice Vanderfeesten, & René Otten. (2017, November). Societal Relevant Impact : Potential analysis for Aurora-Network university leaders to strengthen collaboration on societal challenges. Zenodo.

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