Our AI Journey

AI-Assisted Tool for Academic Writing - Supporting Researchers in Sharing Knowledge

As an Executive Editor at Springer Nature Group, Vivien is a driving force in integrating artificial intelligence within the academic publishing world, straddling the line between technology and the human touch. She takes us into her latest project - an AI-assisted prototype tool aimed at leveraging academic writing, and how it can help academics in sharing their invaluable knowledge.


Vivien Bender

Executive Editor

Springer Nature Group

I am team lead in the Books Group for Economics at Springer Nature and part of our global Content Innovation Network. In my editorial role I am working closely with authors who write (at least at the moment) books the traditional way. As part of the Content Innovation Network we host monthly meetings where innovative ideas from the books and journals teams are frequently generated, pitched and further developed. In the best case we reach a successful implementation. These ideas span a width from minor process optimizations up to full hands-on new products solving our customer needs.

Significant Impacts through Innovative Projects - Using GPT for Academic Writing

With the launch of ChatGPT in late 2022 many authors contacted us requesting to write a book using GPT. At that time, no other publisher had attempted this, and we were excited to experiment in this new field. We found three authors with not only a high expertise in their professional field but also with a high degree of technical background and a willingness to innovate. After an intensive and detailed prework on the content of the book we met for a ‘Hack Day’ in March 2023. Together with the authors we successfully used generative AI to publish a whole new academic book in less than five months – about half the time normally taken. This experiment resulted in building a prototype tool with a structured AI-supported approach to content creation in seven steps, always with human oversight and frequent feedback loops.

Making Valuable Knowledge Accessible

Our prototype can encourage and support authors who, under normal circumstances, do not find the time to write a book but who are sitting on the valuable knowledge that readers crave for. In this way, we can enable the editorial team to work more closely with the authors and together we can create content that can be made ready for publication step by step, saving time in content adaptation and post-writing formatting, while maintaining a high level of quality.

Driving Innovation Suiting Customer and Market Requirements

Coming from an operational department rather than from an IT department, I serve as a translator between AI possibilities and human necessities in order to create a business value that fits customer and market requirements. I juggle between keeping the learning curve steep by testing the prototype in different environments, obtaining feedback, evaluating improvements and adapting the prototype - always in consultation with the entire team in the background.

Crossfunctional Collaboration and External Partnerships

The project itself involves several teams from Editorial, Books Solutions, Project Management, Innovation Management, Communications, Rights and Management. Also we receive frequent requests from different internal stakeholders and different editorial departments covering various disciplines such as economics, medicine, etc. but also different product types from monographs to major reference works.

Externally, we frequently hold presentations and open discussions about the experiment itself but also discuss solutions for building the future use of AI in publishing together. We also partner for a whole semester with three universities in hybrid courses. We test the prototype with students of different grades from Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz, Napier University of Edinburgh and HTWK Leipzig. The students learn the facilitation of AI in writing scientific papers and we have the chance to receive as much feedback as possible in order to improve the outcome and the process of the prototype.

AI's Exciting Future within Springer Nature

I'm looking forward to seeing many more diverse, sustainable and useful applications of AI. It will be interesting to see how many synergies can be realized, but also in how many places it is really efficient on paper and makes a difference. It will not make sense everywhere, as there never is a “one-fits-all”, but it will shake up many structures and will for sure create something new in one place or another. I am already delighted with the enthusiasm among my teammates, the leadership and strategy of the company and hope to inspire many more with my projects to make more jobs ‘AI-able’.

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