Publishing SDG research: Initiatives that support your institution’s efforts

By: Saskia Hoving, Mon May 27 2024
Saskia H

Author: Saskia Hoving

2023 marked the halfway point towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted in 2015, call to take action and create a more sustainable future for all. Amidst concerns over the chances of meeting the Goals on schedule by 2030, now is the time to focus on what we can do for sustainable development. 

Libraries have a unique position to promote SDG research in various ways. Find out what this call to take action means for Springer Nature, and how we step up to support the SDGs in partnership with librarians and research managers.

Now more than ever, it is essential for every organisation to honestly assess its sustainability journey, and continuously explore ways in which we can all support sustainable development. In their role of science enablers and facilitators, librarians and research managers are strategically positioned to be meaningful champions of the SDGs. 

As any organisation in the academic research sphere, libraries and institutions can work to promote the values of sustainable development within their own workings. This can include such important and extremely relevant issues for academic publishing such as promoting DEI, supporting mental health, empowering women in science, and advancing an institutional green agenda. But a unique contribution librarians and research managers can make relates to the science itself.

Research: The foundation for understanding and addressing the SDGs 

Research is essential for every aspect and stage of the SDGs: From understanding and recognising the complex and interconnected global challenges to identifying and evaluating effective solutions, from informing policy and decision makers to monitoring and assessing interventions.

Supporting SDG research is therefore a significant contribution by librarians and research managers to the efforts to address the SDGs. Although we are past the halfway mark for the SDGs, not all researchers in all disciplines know about them and more importantly, how their own work can support the Goals. Raising awareness and promoting knowledge and discussions on the SDGs is therefore of utmost importance. 

By making the SDGs known in the research community, offering guidance on how and where to publish for impact, and supporting academic exchanges and cross-disciplinary collaboration relating to the Goals, you can plant the seeds that solutions develop from.

Research for the SDGs: What to expect from your publisher

Academic publishers, just as any other actor in academic research, should be concerned with sustainable development. In our Sustainable Business Report 2023 we dive into what we publish, who we are, and how we do things. We explore our efforts to become a sustainable business and consider the impact of our operations on the environment. 

Not unlike libraries, as a leading academic publisher, we also consider publishing impactful research as our main contribution to advancing the SDGs and supporting sustainable development. Since the SDGs were created in 2015, Springer Nature has published nearly one million pieces of SDG-related research, across all 17 Goals. In 2023, SDG articles were downloaded around 123 million times. 

This research is indispensable for the attainment of the SDGs, providing evidence, analysis, and data to understand, address, and overcome the challenges that are at the heart of the Goals (we ourselves make good use of the research we publish, for instance in helping us to minimise emissions and mitigate environmental impacts in our operations and supply chain!). By publishing SDG research, highlighting it, and making it available, we contribute to progress towards achieving the Goals. 

  • Research that is available makes an impact: The majority of SDG content published by Springer Nature is open access (OA), which means that it is available to anyone, anywhere. Research that is readily and widely available has greater impact, because it is accessible to policy and decision makers who formulate strategies and policies. Accessibility also means that the general public has access to SDG research. This contributes to a culture of sustainability and promotes informed decision making.
  • A home for SDG research: With our SDG Programme we provide a home for SDG-related knowledge and facilitate the dissemination and availability of impactful research. Our 17 SDG Hubs were visited more than 157,000 times in 2023. Each Hub features research and insights specific to the relevant SDG. In these dedicated spaces we highlight important work and make it easier to find and use. We also create various outlets for SDG research, through collections, journals, and books. A joint collection from 44 journals across the Nature Portfolio that we launched in 2023 features articles showcasing effective interventions related to the Goals at local, regional, and national levels. Journals can be launched with a view to making positive societal impact, and a dedicated book series addresses the 17 Goals.

Facilitating the conversation: Advocating for the Goals and creating space for growth

While we publish in all 17 SDGs, we believe that Springer Nature has a more direct role to play in several focus areas: SDG 4: Quality Education, SDG 5: Gender Equality, SDG10: Reduced Inequalities, SDG 13: Climate Change, and SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals.

These focus areas reflect Springer Nature’s dedication to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), as well as the interdisciplinary nature of the Goals and their solutions. Some contributions from across Springer Nature in these focus areas include:

Seeking diverse ways to support and advocate for the SDGs means taking action. Springer Nature’s commitment to the SDGs is strengthened through its partnership with librarians and research managers, taking action together for sustainable development, for creating a sustainable future that leaves no one behind. 

Read the full report, “Sustainable Business Report 2023, Open for Progress, and learn more about Springer Nature’s sustainability journey.

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Saskia H

Author: Saskia Hoving

In the Dordrecht office, Marketing Manager Saskia Hoving produces The Link Newsletter for research communities. Focusing on the evolving role of libraries regarding SDGs, Open Science, and researcher support, she explores academia's intersection with societal progress. With a lifelong passion for sports and recent exploration into "Women’s inclusion in today’s science", Saskia brings dynamic insights to her work.