Scientific Attention to Sustainability and SDGs: Meta-Analysis of Academic Papers

K Asatani, H Takeda, H Yamano, I Sakata


Scientific research plays an important role in the achievement of a sustainable society. However, grasping the trends in sustainability research is difficult because studies are not devised and conducted in a top-down manner with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To understand the bottom-up research activities, we analyzed over 300,000 publications concerned with sustainability by using citation network analysis and natural language processing. The results suggest that sustainability science’s diverse and dynamic changes have been occurring over the last few years; several new topics, such as nanocellulose and global health, have begun to attract widespread scientific attention. We further examined the relationship between sustainability research subjects and SDGs and found significant correspondence between the two. Moreover, we extracted SDG topics that were discussed following a convergent approach in academic studies, such as “inclusive society” and “early childhood development”, by observing the convergence of terms in the citation network. These results are valuable for government officials, private companies, and academic researchers, empowering them to understand current academic progress along with research attention devoted to SDGs.