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SDG Analysis: Bibliometrics of Relevance

The mission of the Aurora-network is to tackle global societal challenges in areas like the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.

This project creates a dashboard which demonstrates the Societal Relevance and Societal Impact of Research of Aurora Universities. This dashboard shows the research contributions in these societal challenges, and how policymakers have used the research available to tackle these challenges.

The data dashboard you see above has the status of a proof of principle. Researchers helped us improve the classification model behind this dashboard. We are currently processing the survey data. The survey results and the new classification model will be released in the second half of this year.

The dashboard is interactive, you can click on the SDG Icons, the University names, and the data points in the graphs to change the perspectives or highlight parts of the data.

A Look Inside

The animation above (click to view) shows several interactive diagrams slicing different ways through the data.

  • SDG Contributions: shows the publications found per SDG for each university.
  • Aurora SDG Map: Also shows the publications found but placed on the map locating each Aurora University. (Click on the SDGs to see the bubbles change)
  • SDG influence indicators: Shows the publications found, plus the scientific citations, the level of Open Access, and the use of the SDG papers in policy document from (Non-) Governmental Organisations.
  • The Universities Profile: shows the ‘profile’ of a university-based on the scientific excellence and the societal policy uptake of the papers. (Click on the universities to see the different profiles.)
  • The Universities Graph: shows the difference between each university regarding scientific excellence and the societal policy uptake of the papers. (Click on the SDGs to see how the universities compare per SDG)
  • Societal Attention: Policymakers and Journal readership; shows the (Non) Governmental Organisations that use the SDG 13- Climate Action Papers in their policy documents, it also shows the journals that these policymakers read. (Select the NGO’s to see the journals they read and maybe researchers might publish in to reach their audience. But also select the journals, to see in reverse, what policymakers read in particular that particular journals)

Explanatory example:

The bubble diagram above shows what SDG’s the Universities in the Aurora Consortium contribute the most (size of the bubble), have most research articles in the top 10% percentile of most cited Journals (horizontal axis), and have been mentioned the most in policy documents at national governments and non-governmental organisations (vertical axis).


SDG queries are created and reviewed by bibliometricians in the Aurora network. The bibliometric instrument performs per SDG a query on a bibliometric database, in this case, Scopus. The result is a collection of papers per SDG. Additional information is added to these papers, top 10% percentiles as a measure for research excellence (using SciVal), open access status as a measurement for availability of those papers to society (using ImpactStory), and the mentions in references to those papers in public policy documents from (N)GO’s (using Altmetric).

Read more about the concept in the Whitepaper 2017 [1] and the presentation at the Liber congress in 2019 [2], software available on Github [3]

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

[2] Presentation | Vanderfeesten, Maurice, Otten, René, Both, Joeri, Schmidt, Felix, Spielberg, Eike, Kullman, Lars, & Farar, Jaqui. (2019, June). How does Our Research Influence Policy on Global Societal Changes? A Bibliometric Proof of Concept Targeting the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. Zenodo.

[3] Software |



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