Embed impact on SDGs in research assessments

MaREI Funded Investigator Marguerite Nyhan and University College Cork’s Vice President for Research & Innovation John Cryan wrote a piece for Nature entitled, “Embed impact on SDGs in research assessments” is available here or you can read it below. 

We agree that global efforts in science, technology and innovation could accelerate achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by their deadline of 2030 (Nature 618, 647; 2023). Incentivizing scientists to contribute to these goals could help to boost and concentrate those efforts.

So far, only 15% of SDG targets are on track for 2030, 48% are off-track and 37% have either stagnated or regressed below the 2015 benchmark (see go.nature.com/44fjc5n). Action to rectify the situation is becoming increasingly urgent.

To encourage SDG-relevant research, reward and evaluation systems need to be reformulated to capture both scientific excellence and SDG impact. Many universities, including ours (University College Cork, Ireland), are already mapping their research against the SDGs.

A new vision for research quality includes broadening metrics-based evaluation and assessment approaches to factor in SDG alignment and progress. An example comes from the Canada-based International Development Research Centre (see go.nature.com/45kicd1).

Factoring SDGs into research-assessment rubrics will lead to transformative action in science, technology and innovation for a sustainable future.