THE Impact Rankings 2020 by SDG: zero hunger (SDG 2) methodology

April 17, 2020

Browse the full Impact Rankings 2020 results

This ranking focuses on universities’ research on hunger, their teaching on food sustainability and their commitment to tackle food waste and address hunger among students and local communities.

Please view the methodology for the Impact Rankings 2020 to find out how these data are used in the overall ranking. 


Research related to hunger (27%)

  • Proportion of research papers in the top 10 per cent of journals as defined by Citescore (10%)
  • Field-weighted citation index of papers (10%)
  • Number of publications (7%)

This focuses on research that is relevant to hunger, measuring the proportion of papers in the top 10 per cent of cited journals, citation impact and the volume of research produced. The field-weighted citation index is a subject-normalised score of the citation performance of publications.

The data are provided by Elsevier’s Scopus dataset, based on a query of keywords associated with SDG 2 (zero hunger). The data include all indexed publications between 2014 and 2018 and are normalised across the range using Z-scoring.

Student hunger (23%)

  • Programme on student food insecurity (5.75%)
  • Interventions to target hunger among students and staff – for example, provide access to food banks (5.75%)
  • Sustainable food choices for all on campus, including vegetarian and vegan food (5.75%)
  • Healthy and affordable food choices for all on campus (5.75%)

Universities have a responsibility to ensure that their students have access to nutritious, affordable food. The data and evidence for these metrics were provided directly by universities. The evidence was evaluated and scored by Times Higher Education and is not normalised.

Proportion of graduates in food sustainability (23%)

This indicator measures the proportion of graduates who receive a degree associated with any aspect of food sustainability within an agricultural course, out of the institution’s total number of graduates. It aims to capture whether a university actively teaches food sustainability within undergraduate and postgraduate agriculture courses.

The data were provided directly by universities and normalised across the range using Z-scoring.

National hunger (27%)

  • Provide food security and sustainable agriculture knowledge, skills or technology to local farmers and food producers (6.75%)
  • Events for local farmers and food producers to connect and transfer knowledge (6.75%)
  • Access to university facilities to local famers and food producers to improve sustainable farming practices (6.75%)
  • Prioritise purchase of products from local, sustainable sources (6.75%)

These metrics measure a university’s effort to address hunger at a national level. Hunger is defined as a severe lack of food, causing suffering or death.

The data and evidence for these metrics were provided directly by universities. The evidence was evaluated and scored by Times Higher Education and is not normalised.


When we ask about policies and initiatives, our metrics require universities to provide the evidence to support their claims. Evidence is evaluated against a set of criteria and decisions are cross validated where there is uncertainty. Evidence is not required to be exhaustive – we are looking for examples that demonstrate best practice at the institutions concerned.


Unless otherwise stated, the data used refer to the closest academic year to January to December 2018.


Universities must teach undergraduates and be validated by a recognised accreditation body to be included in the ranking.

Data collection

Institutions provide and sign off their institutional data for use in the rankings. On the rare occasions when a particular data point is not provided, we enter a value of zero.

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