The importance of short books in academic publishing: The Synthesis Collection of Technology

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Traditionally, the role of an academic publisher was to bring research from different fields, to its audience and make sure it would be available for generations of new researchers to come. The digital age has seen an increase in information being published and technological advances have changed the way academic books are published. In addition, access to books has become easier with digitalisation and, due to portable devices such as smartphones and tablets, students and researchers all over the world can now access content, wherever and whenever they like and are not restricted by library opening times.

In particular, in technical fields, such as engineering and computer science, scientists are engaged in fields where they need leading-edge information, as well as broad, fundamental knowledge. There is a demand for accessing specific information quickly, when needed, without having to search or buy traditional books. “The availability of web-based information has created an information consumer who is no longer willing to buy information they may not want in order to get the concise information they need most,” explains Charles Glaser, Editorial Director at Springer Nature.

Short books versus journal articles

While journal articles present the most up-to-date and innovative original research and have the advantage that they have a shorter publishing process than academic books, books are usually used for deeper exploration and discussion of a topic or subject. Ideally, in the world of academia, information should be published quickly and revised often, however, traditional scholarly book publishing is much too slow for this. The provided information should be current, brief, tightly focused towards its audience and easily available online. Many potential authors have a great deal of valuable information at their disposal that they would like to circulate to fellow researchers, but not all of them are prepared work on a full-length book.

In December 2021, Springer Nature acquired the Synthesis Collection of Technology, which consists of short, focused books covering the fields of Engineering and Computer Science. “Synthesis lectures offer a format for authors to communicate to their peers with high efficiency and effectiveness. Most of these books take months, rather than years, to develop and they move through the Springer Nature production workflow rapidly,” says Glaser.

Synthesis titles are longer than a typical review article and shorter than a typical monograph and offer readers convenient/efficient access to authoritative information about leading-edge topics. These books tend to have rapid development cycles, publishing research on hot topics as soon as these emerge. Besides emerging topics, Synthesis books also contain principles, fundamentals, methods, models and applications containing practical, accessible information on recent innovations in fast-moving research areas. The 64 series that make up the Synthesis Collection of Technology accommodate a broad spectrum of content across Computer Science and Engineering. Specific topics are chosen by series editors, in consultation with the authors and publisher.

Emerging Topics and Sustainable Development Goals

This newly added eBook collection contains books covering emerging topics such as Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Data Management, Data Mining, Human Language Technologies and Human Centered Informatics.

Amongst the books dealing with current hot topics are Computer Architecture, Reinforcement Learning Applications for Real-World Data, Optimization for Deep Learning, Robots that Reason: The Science of Logic, Probability, and Causal Laws; Optimization Algorithms in Distributed Machine Learning, Natural Language Interfaces to Databases, Integrity Constraints on Rich Data Types for Big Data, Introduction to Wireless Networking and its Impact on Applications, Reinforcement Learning in the Ridesharing Marketplace, Lifelong and Continual Learning Dialogue Systems, and Reproducibility in Computer Science.

The collection does not only cover hot topics, but also includes the Synthesis Lectures on Sustainable Development which focuses on sustainable development practices relevant to engineers, technologists, managers, educators and policy makers. Amongst the top books covering SDGs are also Framework for Sustainability Thinking: A Student’s Introduction to Global Sustainability Challenges and Synthesis Lectures on Engineers, Technology and Society, a long running series on equity and inclusion and underserved communities.

The Synthesis Collection of Technology includes a significant percentage of books that are intended for readers who need to learn; this includes not only university students, but also professional learners, in need of efficient access to 'must-have' information.  Some of the books are designed as textbooks, intended for a specific course, whereas others are more topically oriented. There are hundreds of books in the collection that fit this description.

“What sets Synthesis apart, is that authoritative/concise/accessible is the entire raison d'être," says Glaser.

We invite you to explore Springer Nature’s Synthesis Collection of Technology here.