Published July 2, 2020 | Version 5.0.2
Software Open

Search Queries for "Mapping Research Output to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)" v5.0.2

  • 1. Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  • 2. University of Duisburg-Essen
  • 1. Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  • 2. University of Duisburg-Essen
  • 3. University of Aberdeen
  • 4. University of Iceland
  • 5. Université Grenoble-Alpes
  • 6. Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II
  • 7. Universitat Rovira i Virgili
  • 8. University of East Angia
  • 9. University of Innsbruck
  • 10. AURORA University Network


This package contains machine readable (xml) search queries, for the Scopus publication database, to find domain specific research output that are related to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


Sustainable Development Goals are the 17 global challenges set by the United Nations. Within each of the goals specific targets and indicators are mentioned to monitor the progress of reaching those goals by 2030. In an effort to capture how research is contributing to move the needle on those challenges, we earlier have made an initial classification model than enables to quickly identify what research output is related to what SDG. (This Aurora SDG dashboard is the initial outcome as proof of practice.)

The initiative started from the Aurora Universities Network in 2017, in the working group "Societal Impact and Relevance of Research", to investigate and to make visible 1. what research is done that are relevant to topics or challenges that live in society (for the proof of practice this has been scoped down to the SDGs), and 2. what the effect or impact is of implementing those research outcomes to those societal challenges (this also have been scoped down to research output being cited in policy documents from national and local governments an NGO's).

The classification model we have used are 17 different search queries on the Scopus database. The search queries are elegant constructions with keyword combinations and boolean operators, in the syntax specific to the Scopus Query Language. We have used Scopus because it covers more research area's that are relevant to the SDG's, and we could filter much easier the Aurora Institutions.


Different versions of the search queries have been made over the past years to improve the precision (soundness) and recall (completeness) of the results. The queries have been made in a team effort by several bibliometric experts from the Aurora Universities. Each one did two or 3 SDG's, and than reviewed each other's work.

Contribute and improve the SDG Search Queries

We welcome you to join the Github community and to fork, improve and make a pull request to add your improvements to the new version of the SDG queries.


version update: minor adjustments; corrected the placement of quotation marks based on [user feedback](


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Additional details


United Nations Sustainable Development Goals