Introduction Subjective cognitive decline (SCD) manifesting before clinical impairment could serve as a target population for early intervention trials in Alzheimer's disease (AD). A working group, the Subjective Cognitive Decline Initiative (SCD-I), published SCD research criteria in the context of preclinical AD. To successfully apply them, a number of issues regarding assessment and implementation of SCD needed to be addressed. Methods Members of the SCD-I met to identify and agree on topics relevant to SCD criteria operationalization in research settings. Initial ideas and recommendations were discussed with other SCD-I working group members and modified accordingly. Results Topics included SCD inclusion and exclusion criteria, together with the informant's role in defining SCD presence and the impact of demographic factors. Discussion Recommendations for the operationalization of SCD in differing research settings, with the aim of harmonization of SCD measurement across studies are proposed, to enhance comparability and generalizability across studies.