Scientific director and Editor of the book Improving Oncology Worldwide Uta Schmidt-Straßburger shares her experience of publishing an SDG book with Springer Nature. Throughout the blog, Uta takes us through her experience of writing the book, why she chose Springer Nature as her publisher of choice, and the advice she would give to any authors considering embarking on their publishing journey.
As the Scientific Director of the Advanced Oncology study program of Ulm University, I wanted to make the results of our 10-year anniversary workshop available to any interested parties, and I contacted several publishers. Ms. Cerri of Springer Nature contacted me with the option to publish the book Open Access in the SDG series, and I found that this was a perfect fit for my needs and the needs of the other authors.
Our book covers three aspects of oncology: education, research and clinical practice. Alumni of the study program and lecturers describe their approach as a matter of the heart.
Concerning education, there is an ongoing need that needs to be covered since oncology is a rather quickly evolving field with many new diagnostic and therapeutic options, shifting patient preferences and an extremely demanding day-to-day for both beginners and seasoned physicians in the field. Hence, any offered education must be a perfect fit for the needs of these highly qualified professionals. In the educational part, we describe how to meet the needs of the oncologists, and how organizations like WHO have training needs as well in the field of pathology, a subject closely intertwined in anything concerning oncology.
Research and access to research opportunities is unequal as well. Some of our alumni described their approach to research, how they progressed by learning to ask clinically relevant research questions and to answer them by data mining, and by performing original basic, translational and clinical research. The contributions of the alumni shall serve to stimulate everyone to ask their own research questions and to evolve in their scientific reasoning.
Clinical practice differs not only between different regions but also between different settings in the same country. The part covering these aspects brought best practice examples from many different parts of the world.
Many of our students come from low- and middle income countries. In the past, many applicants could not pursue their studies because they could not afford the tuition that we are supposed to ask for according to the current law. Adding in the inequalities in the access to cancer care and sometimes even pain medication and considering that our workshop was intended to reach both, alumni from low- and middle-income countries as well as high-income countries, and that we are aligned with certain targets of the SDGs concerning health and well-being, an SDG-related book was the most logical option for us. This is, even if not consciously, what most of our students do: They want to decrease the morbidity and mortality due to non-communicable diseases for people of all ages, they want to contribute to better health and well-being for everyone.
In short: I found it very inspiring.
It was very motivating to pursue this project within the framework of the SDGs and bring it to a successful conclusion, all with the prospect of contributing to making the world a better place. The authors did their work diligently, and it was a great experience to be able to discuss subject matters beyond the talks they had given. Overall, I think that this experience strengthened not only our bond with each other but it really let us grow as a community aiming at best medicine for people with cancer everywhere in the world.
My publishing experience was a very good one, from first contact up until publication. Everyone was very committed to achieving this goal and keeping deadlines. Since it was the first time as an editor, I did grow personally, too.
Springer Nature as a publisher has an excellent reputation. Adding in the option with the SDGs and being Open Access was the icing on the cake and simply irresistible.
As with everything, you are always wiser after you went through the process. Hence, just do it. It is worth it. As for the considerations, I advise you to communicate the timeline very openly and plan accordingly. Even though Springer's editors did a lot, you as an author and/or editor really need to put in the time. Again: just do it. It is worth it.
I love every aspect of the SDGs. They are the collection of guidelines for mankind to make the world a better place, to reduce suffering, to promote well-being and they should more often be used as the guidelines for politicians. I love that these goals have been subdivided into different targets with corresponding indices so that any change could be measured. As for myself, I measure every political agenda on these goals, and this makes my choices so much easier.
As an anecdote: the first cover was matched to SDG 5 (Gender Equality) instead of 3 (Good Health and Well-being). I could have lived with that one, too, but it made me realize how much gender inequality there still is, even in the book that I edited. So I guess, we still have a lot of growth to do in order to meet the SDGs and their different targets.
I was recently contacted by a person who wanted to translate the book into Farsi, and I was very happy to be able to tell the person that they could do that because the license covered this option.
Most of the authors have shared their publication in the book on social media and have received praise for their doings. In general, I hope that this book helps people in the field to look beyond their everyday dealings (SDG 4), to reach out to the authors if they want to pursue similar projects (SDGs 3, 5, 10, 11) and connect in a meaningful manner (SDG 17) to manage their workload but also to foster decent work and economic growth (SDG 8).
I do hope that the book contributes to the resilience of the people reading it (SDG 3)
Dr. Uta Schmidt-Straßburger
Scientific Director of the
Master Online Study Program Advanced Oncology
Ulm University Medical Faculty
Uta Schmidt-Straßburger was born in former East Germany and lived and attended school in Leipzig and in Dubna (the former Soviet Union) until the reunification. After biochemistry studies in Leipzig and Aberystwyth, she graduated from Leipzig University with a diploma in biochemistry and a minor in immunology. She then went on to work at Dresden University of Technology where she graduated with a PhD in chemistry and a minor in urology. Her post-doc years led her to Geneva, back to Dresden and to Ulm University. For more than 10 years, she has been in charge of the Advanced Oncology study program of Ulm University as its scientific director.
She is the editor of Open Access book Improving Oncology Worldwide: Education, Clinical Research and Global Cancer Care