Authors and reviewers under pressure: Springer Nature’s support through innovation

The Source
By: Chris Graf, Thu Mar 21 2024
Chris Graf

Author: Chris Graf

Research Integrity Director

The relentless push for research output (some use words like hyper-competition to describe it) puts pressure on researchers in their roles as authors and as reviewers. So, what can a publisher like Springer Nature do to help relieve some of this pressure? For us, this means developing tools that streamline the publication process for researchers in whichever role they’re playing.

Research output continues to rise, reaching 2.9 million articles in 2020, compared with 1.9 million in 2010. Some of that is from increased investments from nations around the world in research. Some is likely the result of the pressure to publish that’s felt so acutely by researchers. And because every paper needs to be peer reviewed, this creates further demands on researchers. It has become an important challenge for publishers like Springer Nature to relieve that pressure while also maintaining our commitment to research quality, integrity, and diversity.

Innovation to support research authors and peer reviewers

Springer Nature is investing in innovations to streamline publishing and make it more efficient for researchers.

  1. Improving the digital experience for research authors and peer reviewers. The Springer Nature Article Processing Platform (Snapp) has  been specifically designed to work better for both authors and reviewers (and editors, too), and developed to be intuitive and easy to use. Snapp reduces the pressure on authors by making submission to journals easy and intuitive. To date more than 211,000 articles have been published and 1 million submitted through Snapp. At Springer Nature we’re continuing investments in Snapp, to keep making the experience and workflow better for researchers and to find new ways to relieve pressure.
  2. Creating early sharing opportunities for authors and more transparency in peer review. While a researcher’s  paper is under review with us, we offer the possibility to use the free preprint service In Review. This journal-integrated preprint sharing service from Springer Nature and Research Square is first-of-its-kind, and available on over 1000 Springer Nature journals. Authors and research communities benefit from early sharing and access to submitted research manuscripts before peer review. The real-time updates that authors get regarding their manuscript’s progress through peer review contribute to relieving pressure for authors who need access to the newest findings quickly. 
  3. Building a broader, sustainable, and highly qualified pool of reviewers. Part of Snapp is Springer Nature’s Reviewer Finder tool. Reviewer Finder helps editors pick the most appropriate reviewers. In turn this helps editors focus their valuable time and efforts on where they make most impact. It also helps to more fairly distribute the review work in the research community by better identifying expertise and bringing more diversity into the pool of expert reviewers. And that’s nicely aligned with Springer Nature’s commitments to improving our understanding of and actions in diversity, equity, and inclusivity, as well as with our commitment to relieving pressure faced by researchers.  

De-pressurizing the system

As an ally to researchers and an advocate for research quality, Springer Nature has a special focus on using technology to deliver quality as well as to help de-pressurize this system. We continue to innovate and seek new ideas to explore. For example, might using a language model to enable researchers to do peer reviewer in their own language help? Could that dramatically impact diversity of the researchers who are willing and able to do peer review, and thus reviewer fatigue?

These steps and others that Springer Nature is taking will, I hope, depressurize the system and reduce some of the strain researchers feel. The realities and possibilities are truly exciting.

Check out our dedicated page for peer reviewers: Find out more about peer reviewing at Springer Nature, and learn about resources and services for reviewers.

Chris Graf

Author: Chris Graf

Research Integrity Director

Chris Graf joined Springer Nature as Research Integrity Director in 2021. He has extensive publishing experience gained through a variety of editorial, business development and management roles, with a key specialism in research integrity. Chris also has 15 years of experience as a volunteer for the Committee on Publication Ethics in various roles, including Co-Chair, and more recently with the programme committee of the World Conferences on Research Integrity.

Chris drives the development and implementation of research integrity strategy and process at Springer Nature, as well as maintaining and enhancing our best-in-class issue handling capability.

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