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How HKUST Research Contributes to Sustainable Development Goals

The United Nations set 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. HKUST researchers can contribute a lot to these goals. Can you guess which SDGs our research relates to the most?


The 17 SDGs are high-level goals that are meant to be an urgent call for action. These global challenges are heavily interlinked; they require global effort and partnership to tackle.

17 sustainable development goals

Mapping Research Publications to SDGs in Scopus

Research in all disciplines can contribute to SDGs in different ways. Researchers and institutions over the world work hard towards these goals, and also try hard to demonstrate how their effort helps to reach SDGs. Currently, when researchers publish their works in journals, there is no practice to tag which SDGs their research may support. However, in the database Scopus, there are now pre-defined sets of keywords that attempt to map research output to SDGs 1 to 16.

We used Scopus to capture how many HKUST-affiliated papers matched these SDG keywords. This post highlights the results.

Number of HKUST Publications

*The searches were conducted on September 7, 2021

SDGs No. of HKUST Publications from 2015 onwards
01 No Poverty 11
02 Zero Hunger 34
03 Good Health and Well-being 1357
04 Quality Education 11
05 Gender equality 19
06 Clean water and sanitation 93
07 Affordable and clean energy 1006
08 Decent work and economic growth 108
09 Industry, innovation, and infrastructure 112
10 Reduced inequalities 35
11 Sustainable cities and communities 371
12 Responsible consumption and production 152
13 Climate action 216
14 Life below water 207
15 Life on land 80
16 Peace, justice, and strong institution 68
Total 3880


Most of our papers are in SDG 03 Good Health and Well-being and SDG 07 Affordable and clean energy. The distribution is clearer when we put the same data into Figure 1, showing that three SDGs 03, 07 and 11 being the biggest portions:

Distribution of hkust publications according to SDGs

Figure 1

HKUST Impact Areas Relative to the Global Publishing Profile

While the major portions of HKUST research output fall into the two areas: health science and energy research, it might be because these areas represent a high proportion of global research. When we compare the distribution of HKUST papers and the global picture (Figure 2), in fact we have relatively higher number of publications in these eight SDGs:

SDG 06 Clean water and sanitation

SDG 07 affordable and clean energySDG 8 Decent work and economic growthSDG 09SDG 11SDG 12SDG 13 SDG 14

Compare the distribution of HKUST papers and the global picture

Figure 2

Other Ways to Connect Research Output to SDGs

Dimensions SDG-related topic searches

Figure 3

Scopus uses a keywords mapping approach to identify papers related to SDGs. It is a simple idea, yet it is debatable whether it is effective or meaningful. Apart from Scopus, Dimensions also set up SDG-related topic searches, you can find them among the filters options (Figure 3).

You can find out more about these methods and research around SDGs in general from these reports and projects:

The Scopus searches reported in this post were conducted by Lester Chan from the Library’s Research Support Services team. If you are interested about the data such as publication details, productive authors among the results, citation counts, etc., you can contact Lester.

— By Gabi Wong, Library

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published September 29, 2021