News, Issue 8 June 2011

Providing the tools to achieve recognition in the global scientific community: Springer’s recent author workshops in Saudi Arabia

Over the last few years, the Middle East has seen a growing commitment to science with countries making significant investment in building dedicated institutions and research centres, developing scientific methods and communicating research outputs. Yet despite the extent of this commitment and investment, output of published research, journal articles and books from researchers in the region has been relatively low.

Supporting authors in publishing

To support Saudi Arabian researchers in this endeavor (and to begin to address one of the issues faced by the region and its researchers in this regard), Springer partnered with Edanz Editing, a company that provides specialist scientific editing and related services. Together, representatives from Edanz and Springer conducted a series of workshops to provide scientists with the tools to increase their chances of being published. The workshops were organized in association with the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) and took place at Saudi Arabia’s most prominent institutions: King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah; King Saud University, Riyadh and King Fahd University for Petroleum and Minerals, Dhahran.

The workshop sessions comprised a series of presentations exploring topics such as publishing opportunities that existed in both the regional and global scientific communities; how articles should be written to maximize the potential for publication and the support that is available for authors who publish with Springer. In addition, the participants were given an overview of Springer’s eProducts to demonstrate how published research is made available to millions of users around the world.

Almost 500 participants

The level of investment being made into scientific research across the Middle East region is opening up significant opportunities for researchers to showcase their work on a global scale. Such opportunities are generating a great deal of excitement and this was evidenced by the workshop’s good attendance: more than 490 scientists from across Saudi Arabia took part.

Achieving International Recognition

Saudi Arabia has a high number of both female and male scientists and given the cultural sensitivities, Springer took care to ensure that both female and male presenters chaired the workshop sessions. Not only did this mean that the female scientists were able to attend the workshops in person but they were also able to actively participate in discussion and debate. The interaction with both male and female scientists provided a great deal of insight into the areas that would need to be addressed to encourage greater research output. It also highlighted the importance that the scientists placed on communicating their research output to the global scientific community to achieve international recognition.

Regional-specific journals established

Springer is supporting this ambition through a combination of initiatives to establish regional-specific journals and editorial boards that encourage good quality article submissions. The first of these journals, the Arabian Journal for Geosciences, was developed in collaboration with the Saudi Geosciences Society and supported by King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) and King Saud University. Since its launch, the number of articles published in the journal has doubled and by 2012, it will go from publishing 4 issues to 6 issues per annum.

Additionally, five Open Access journals launched in 2011 with KACST have been well-received with good submission rates. Other new journals include the Bulletin of Mathematical Sciences, developed in co-operation with the mathematics department of the King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, and the Arabian Journal for Science and Engineering published in co-operation with the King Fahd University for Petroleum and Minerals.

As the publishing activity is only just starting to escalate, current rejection rates for article submissions, in some cases, can still be quite high. However, Springer continues to work with authors to lower these rates and increase the number and quality of articles that are published. Such support will include conducting further workshops on more advanced topics such as peer review, journal editing and book publishing as well as continuing to establish and work with editorial boards across the region to launch new journals. There are also plans to extend the workshop program to other key territories including Iran, Brazil, Japan and China to encourage further article submissions from authors in these regions.

"Expect rapid scientific progress"

Finally, as Dr Chris Bendall, Springer’s Senior Editor for the Middle East region, pointed out, “Saudi Arabia is one of the fastest growing regions in terms of scientific research in the world. It is both strategically important and very exciting for Springer to be closely involved in assisting the region’s authors and institutions to perfect their publications. We expect rapid scientific progress in Saudi Arabia in the next decade and look forward to being a part of this.”