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Sustainable development research for all – a transparent mapping and discovery tool

Research relevant to the Sustainable Development Goals should be accessible across society so that it can be used to reach the goals. This project will contribute by creating a portal where people can find Norwegian publications related to the goals, and get access to open versions.

Icons for sustainable development goals 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 11, 13, and 14
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SDG icons, reprinted for informational purposes in accordance with guidelines from the UN Department of Global Communications (2020) https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/news/communications-material/; all rights reserved)

Main content

What:

The aim of the project is to create a portal where everyone – those working in academia, public and private sectors, students, and the general public – can get an overview over Norwegian publications related to the Sustainable Development Goals, and, when possible, access to the full text. We will use both broad and narrow approaches when mapping SDG-relevant publications, which can be chosen by the user according to their needs. The methods will be well-documented, and possible to reuse and modify. The project will initially cover eight Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 11, 13, 14).

Why:

Access to research which is relevant to the SDGs is important across society, for spreading knowledge, opening-up science, and achieving the goals. However, this research can be difficult to find, especially for those outside academia. Other services which map SDG related publications may not offer their services to the public, have good coverage of local or Norwegian-language publications, or provide sufficient explanation for their methods. Our portal therefore aims to be an easy, well-documented entry point to research, including local and Norwegian-language publications.

Who:

This 2-year project is led by the University of Bergen Library, together with partners from the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences Library and the University of Stavanger Library. It is funded by the development fund of the National Library of Norway.

The portal will come online in 2022.

Detailed project description

Access to research which is relevant to the Sustainable Development Goals is important across society, for both open science and achieving the goals. However, this research can be difficult to find and access for those outside, or even inside, academia. Large commercial actors may not cover local or Norwegian-language publications in their databases, and mappings of SDG-related research can be difficult to understand, define, or access.

In this project, our focus is on opening-up SDG-related research. Our goal is to create a portal where Norwegian SDG-related publications are easy to find for across stakeholder groups (e.g. researchers, students, local municipality, and the public). The website will give an overview of publications from Norwegian institutions related to the SDGs, transparent methods, and statistics on what is being published. It will initially cover eight SDGs (SDGs 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 11, 13, 14).

An issue with existing mappings is robustness - thus affecting any resulting statistics or analysis of SDG-related research. A robust mapping is hard to achieve if it implicitly uses a certain interpretation of the SDGs and definition of “relevance”, without defining and documenting these choices. A related issue is that different users may have different interpretations and understandings of what it means to be SDG-related, but are unable to determine if a mapping aligns with their interpretation if methods are not transparent. Multiple mappings may enable comparison and better insight (for academic work around these issues, see Armitage et al. 2020 and Rafols et al. 2021). In this project, we will therefore implement ideas about plural mappings, transparency of methods, and inclusion of local research to try and improve these issues. We aim to provide clear definitions of what is included and excluded from a certain mapping, and provide the search strings for all, empowering users to choose (or even adjust) as suits their needs, and to understand why mapping results from different approaches may vary.

During development, we are including SDG-oriented researchers and innovation clusters (which combine local municipalities, the private sector and academia). We aim to use these contacts to give input about SDG-interpretations, terminology and the formation of the tool.

This project is run by the University Library at the University of Bergen, together with partners from the libraries at Western Norway University of Applied Sciences and the University of Stavanger. It is funded by these institutions and a development grant from the National Library of Norway.

Supporting work and project activities

Search strings for mapping SDG publications: Armitage, Caroline S, Bjerkan, Håkon Magne, Byholm, Leena Pirit, Gåsemyr, Inger, Lorenz, Marta, & Seland, Eli Heldaas. (2022). Search strings for finding SDG-related research, Bergen-approach. (1.0.0). Zenodo. doi: 10.5281/zenodo.7241690 (GitHub: https://github.com/SDGforskning/sdg-strings/tree/v1.0.0)

Presentation: Armitage CS, Bjerkan HM, Gåsemyr I & Seland EH (Jun 2022). Bærekraftsforskning for alle – en transparent kartleggings- og gjenfinningstjeneste. VIRAK (Trondheim)

Workshop: Project group (Feb 2022). Skulle du ønske det var lettere å finne forskning knyttet til bærekraftmålene? Day Zero, SDG Conference (Bergen).

Article: Armitage CS, Lorenz M & Mikki S (2020). Mapping scholarly publications related to the Sustainable Development Goals: Do independent bibliometric approaches get the same results? Quantitative Science Studies 1(3), 1092-1108. doi:10.1162/qss_a_00071

Presentation: Armitage C & Lorenz M (Nov 2020). Mapping Scholarly Publications Related to the Sustainable Development Goals. CWTS, Leiden University, The Netherlands. See presentation slides here

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UiB, HVL, UiS