Improving the Scopus and Aurora queries to identify research that supports the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2021

Published: 20-04-2021| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/9sxdykm8s4.1
Maxime Rivest,
Yury Kashnitsky,
Alexandre Bédard-Vallée,
David Campbell,
Paul Khayat,
Isabelle Labrosse,
Henrique Pinheiro,
Simon Provençal,
Guillaume Roberge,


The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) challenge the global community to build a world where no one is left behind. Since 2018, Elsevier have generated SDG search queries to help researchers and institutions track and demonstrate progress towards the targets of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). At the end of 2018, Elsevier worked on 2 versions of the SDG queries. One version was created by the Elsevier Analytical Services group and another by the Science-Metrix group, who had recently become part of Elsevier. At that time Science-Metrix was creating queries for 5 of the 16 SDGs, as part of pro-bono work for UNESCO. In 2020 inspired by the earlier queries, Elsevier, through its Science-Metrix group, used a new approach to mapping publications to the SDGs. Taking customer feedback into account, they significantly increased the number of search terms used to define each SDG. Those queries were then complemented by a machine learning model, which helped increase the recall by approximately 10%. As a result, this year’s “Elsevier 2021 SDG mapping” captures on average twice as many articles as the 2020 version, while keeping precision above 80%. The mapping also has a better overlap with SDG queries from other independent projects. Times Higher Education (THE) are using the “Elsevier 2021 SDG mapping” as part of their 2021 Impact Rankings. The documentation below, describes the methods used and shares the queries.