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Analyze & understand societal impact research with Scopus

A closer look for research leaders

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Updated: August 25, 2021

Analyze & understand societal impact research with Scopus

What is your university's role in Societal Impact?

Increasingly, university leadership, governments, funders, the community, and more are demanding to understand the value of a university's research. They want to know that the significant investment into research is going to help society.

According to Chankseliani and McCowan T. (2021):

University as an institution has a long history, starting as an educational establishment, later assuming the knowledge creating (research) function and more recently the so-called third mission (engagement). In most contexts, universities were for the elites, educating them for religious, professional or administrative occupations. With the expansion of higher education participation, university has acquired a larger potential for contributing to societal development.

A university can contribute to societal impact in multiple ways. For example:

  • Targets to admit lower-income students

  • Programs to encourage women to participate in traditionally male disciplines

  • Work with local and national governments to plan for climate disasters

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Another major area where Universities demonstrate societal impact is with the research they do. When a university participates in research that brings solutions to society, they act as part of the community working together to solve the world's problems.

Societal impact guide

Learn about what societal impact and the UN SDGs mean to your university.

Societal Impact guide

Understanding your research through a United Nations Sustainability Goals (UN SDGs) lens

In 2015, the United Nations (UN) announced the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which was subsequently adopted by all UN member states.

Seeing your institution's research in each of these SDGs provides you a map to understand this vital way you contribute to societal impact.

The UN defined 17 individual SDGs

The UN defined 17 individual SDGs.

To understand more about a university's role in societal impact and the United Nations Sustainable development goals, visit our research leaders' guide.

Find Societal Impact related research in Scopus

Times Higher Education (THE), Vertigo Ventures, Elsevier and others collaborated on developing search queries to represent the research in the first 16 SDGs. These are periodically reviewed and refined. Full details of the methodology for each SDG search query are available on Mendeley(S’ouvre dans une nouvelle fenêtre).

You can use the information you gather by analyzing the search results in Scopus for several important purposes. These include:

  • Telling your story of societal impact

  • Determining which funders are active in the SDGs

  • Searching for potential collaborators

Each of these search queries are pre-generated queries in Scopus. With Elsevier SciVal, you can go deeper into analysis to learn more about your SDG research. Read more about SciVal here.

These pre-defined Scopus queries provide a starting point for every university to understand the research related to a given societal impact research area.

Caption: Pre-defined search queries in Scopus to help you locate SDG-related research

Pre-defined search queries in Scopus

Analyze the SDG search results in Scopus

NOTE: The period  used in all charts is 2015 – 2020.

You can use the Scopus feature, "Analyze search results" to see overview information about the each sustainable development goal. In this example, we are analyzing the search research for SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities(S’ouvre dans une nouvelle fenêtre).

Analyze the SDG search results in Scopus

NOTE: The period  used in all charts is 2015 – 2020.

You can use the Scopus feature, "Analyze search results" to see overview information about the each sustainable development goal. In this example, we are analyzing the search research for SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities(S’ouvre dans une nouvelle fenêtre).

Documents by year for SDG 11

Documents by year for SDG 11

Number of documents about SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities(S’ouvre dans une nouvelle fenêtre) is climbing every year (per Scopus)

The chart above shows that the research relevant to SDG 11(S’ouvre dans une nouvelle fenêtre) has increased in the last few years.

Documents by funding sponsor for SDG 11

The top 10 organizations

The top 10 organizations who funded research into SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities(S’ouvre dans une nouvelle fenêtre) (per Scopus)

The chart above shows globally which funding bodies have funded the most published research on SDG 11(S’ouvre dans une nouvelle fenêtre). The funding information is valuable for you to help determine potential funding sources for SDG-related research.

Let's narrow our focus and look at specific countries and researchers for SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities(S’ouvre dans une nouvelle fenêtre).

Documents by country for SDG 11

Number of documents per country

Number of documents per country with research about SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities (per Scopus)

Even though Italy is a smaller country than most of the other nations on the list, Italy is in the top 5 countries in the world researching sustainable cities and communities. Does this indicate that Italy might be a good country to find a collaborator to ensure your research is international?

You can use the refinement options in Scopus to see the most recent research coming out of Italy.

Italian authors from 2020 and 2021

Italian authors from 2020 and 2021 about SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

(per Scopus)

By analyzing these results, you can see the institutions and authors who have published the most research about SDG 11: Sustainable cities and communities(S’ouvre dans une nouvelle fenêtre) from Italy.

Documents by Italian institutions for SDG 11

The top 10 Italian institutions doing recent research about SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities(S’ouvre dans une nouvelle fenêtre) (per Scopus)

Documents by Italian authors for SDG 11

Documents by Italian authors for SDG 11

The top 10 Italian authors publishing recent research about SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities(S’ouvre dans une nouvelle fenêtre) (per Scopus)

While seeing the top 10 institutions publishing about SDG 11 is intriguing, you want to dig a little deeper to see the top authors as well. These authors could be your best lead towards finding a collaborator.

Dr. Luca Salvati(S’ouvre dans une nouvelle fenêtre) is the most prolific Italian author in this research area.

With this Scopus author profile, you can see that Dr. Salvati works with Università degli Studi di Macerata and their citations have been growing yearly. Their most often research topics are:

  • Urban Sprawl; Pattern of Urban Growth; Urbanization

  • Land Degradation; Sustainable Land Management; Conservation of Natural Resources

  • Wildfires; Fire Weather; Wildland-Urban Interface

Looking at these topics, you can confirm that Dr. Salvati would be a good collaborator as your team is also studying urbanization.

Documents by funding sponsor

Compare the document counts for up to 15 funding sponsors.

Top funders of Italian SDG 11 research

Top funders of Italian SDG 11 research

When you narrow your view of funders to just the ones funding research in Italy, the information changes and could allow you to be more targeted in approaching funders.

This page demonstrates a few of the refinement and analysis you can do in Scopus.

If you would like to see more SDGs, or information for your institution please contact us.

References

Chankseliani, M., & McCowan, T. (2021). Higher education and the sustainable development goals. Higher Education, 81(1) doi:10.1007/s10734-020-00652-w(S’ouvre dans une nouvelle fenêtre)

Download this article in PDF format(S’ouvre dans une nouvelle fenêtre)