The number of publications related to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) continues to grow. These publications cover a diverse spectrum of research, from humanities and social sciences to engineering and health. Given the imperative of funding bodies to monitor outcomes and impacts, linking publications to relevant SDGs is critical but remains time-consuming and difficult given the breadth and complexity of the SDGs. A publication may relate to several goals (interconnection feature of goals), and therefore require multidisciplinary knowledge to tag accurately. Machine learning approaches are promising and have proven particularly valuable for tasks such as manual data labeling and text classification. In this study, we employed over 82,000 publications from an Australian university as a case study. We utilized a similarity measure to map these publications onto Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Additionally, we leveraged the OpenAI GPT model to conduct the same task, facilitating a comparative analysis between the two approaches. Experimental results show that about 82.89% of the results obtained by the similarity measure overlap (at least one tag) with the outputs of the GPT model. The adopted model (similarity measure) can complement GPT model for SDG classification. Furthermore, deep learning methods, which include the similarity measure used here, are more accessible and trusted for dealing with sensitive data without the use of commercial AI services or the deployment of expensive computing resources to operate large language models. Our study demonstrates how a crafted combination of the two methods can achieve reliable results for mapping research to the SDGs.