SynOpen Reviewer Guidelines

Table of Contents

1 General Information

2 Journal Reviewer Policies
2.1 Use of author-recommended referees
2.2 Anonymity in peer review
2.3 Which article types are sent for review?
2.4 What documents are sent for peer review?
2.5 Are referee comments made public?
2.6 Who makes the final decision on a manuscript
2.7 Becoming a referee for SynOpen

3 Reviewer step-by-step guide


1 General Information

Reviewing a manuscript is a valuable way to contribute to the development of the scientific community, it can help you in your career to learn how to write a better manuscript, collect reviewer credits, and stay up-do-date with what your peers are working on before it is made available to the public.

Some of Thieme's journals make use of a manuscript reviewing method known as Select Crowd Review. The Select Crowd Review process is an interactive and safe way to improve the quality and speed of publishing. To review papers, a selection of about 50–100 experts, who are exclusive members of the crowd, will receive a link to the manuscript and can comment on it anonymously via a secure web-interface, judging the manuscript’s suitability for publication. Reviewers will be added to the crowd at the discretion of the journals’ Editors, based on their suitability for the role. 

SynOpen generally uses Select Crowd Review for reviewing manuscripts. Authors have the possibility to opt for double-anonymized peer review in connection with Select Crowd Review. For crowd reviewing, we are constantly looking for new highly motivated crowd members. Please contact if you want to learn more about Select Crowd Review or send your CV if you are interested in joining.


Please read the following guidelines prior to undertaking any peer review assignments.


2 Journal Reviewer Policies

2.1 Use of author-recommended referees

Upon submission, authors can provide a short list of referees that they recommend review the paper. These suggestions may be useful to the editor if traditional peer review is used, particularly for niche research topics. However, the assigned editor is ultimately in charge of the peer review process and chooses who they invite at their own discretion.

Authors must not recommend referees with known conflicts of interest. This includes, but is not limited to, former co-workers or recent co-authors, and past or present supervisors. 

Authors may also provide a list of people whom they do not recommend to review their paper, which will be honored by the handling editor.


2.2 Anonymity in peer review

In both traditional and select crowd review, the referees are anonymized to the authors and other reviewers of a manuscript, unless they specifically sign their comments with their name. Referee identities are known to the handling editor and the journal staff.

Typically, SynOpen uses single-anoymized peer review, meaning author identities are made available to referees throughout the process. We also allow double-anonymized peer review, in which author identities are hidden from referees and are only visible to journal staff until online publication of a manuscript after acceptance.


2.3 Which article types are sent for peer review?

Original Papers, Letters, Reviews, Graphical Reviews, Practical Synthetic Procedures and Spotlights are sent for peer review at SynOpen.


2.4 What documents are sent for review?

The main manuscript file and all supporting information files are sent for review. 


2.5 Are referee comments made public?

In traditional peer review, each referee is invited individually and comments and referee identities remain invisible to other referees throughout the process. An exception to the visibility of referee comments may occur in cases for which an adjudicating referee may be needed. In this case, the conflicting comments from all current reports may be sent to the adjudicating referee to assist them in their review of the manuscript. Referee identities are never shared among referees. 

For Select Crowd Review, throughout the process all referee comments made to a paper are visible to other referees. Reviewer identities are anonymized throughout the process among the referees.

Upon acceptance, reviewer comments are kept private to the editorial office and the author and are not made public alongside the article version of record.


2.6 Who makes the final decision?

After referee comments have been submitted that allow for a decision on a manuscript to be made, the handling editor makes the final decision on the paper.


2.7 Becoming a referee for SynOpen

If you want to become a reviewer for our journals or you would like to become member of the crowd, we invite you to first read our Instructions for Authors and the Thieme Journal Policies. Moreover, Thieme journals adhere to the Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers outlined by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE).


3 Referee Step-by-Step Guidelines

Step 1. If you have received an invitation email to review a manuscript either via traditional Peer Review or via Select Crowd Review, you will have received basic information, such as the title and the abstract of the article, to help you decide on whether you have the expertise to review the manuscript.

Review invitations will also include a deadline date by which your comments should be provided. In case you would like to review the manuscript, make sure you can accommodate time for the reviewing process in advance of the given date and provide a timely answer to the invitation to avoid any delay in the process.

If you accept to review the manuscript and you have any Conflict of Interest (CoI), you must declare it before starting the review (for further clarification, please refer to the COPE Guidelines). The Editors might want you to review the manuscript even if a Conflict of Interest is present and consider your comments in view of that CoI.

For articles undergoing traditional peer review, if the article falls outside your area of expertise or you do not have time, then suggest alternative reviewers who could review that article, if possible.

Step 2. Once you have agreed to review a manuscript, refrain from sharing the data you are accessing. Confidentiality must be maintained, and the content is meant to be for your eyes and ears only. Agreeing to peer review an article and let someone else conduct the peer review for you is not ethically appropriate. Moreover, it is ethical misconduct to delay the reviewing process to favour the publication date of your own article or patent.

Step 3. When agreeing to review a manuscript, please be ready to invest your time in the reviewing process. When reviewing the articles, please be aware that correcting grammatical errors or typos should not be carried out by the reviewers, as those will be assessed during copyediting. If such errors make it difficult to assess the science, flag them to the editor so that the authors can adjust the manuscript accordingly before further peer-review. Your focus must be on the science, but you should also be able to assess whether the writing is clear and concise. We suggest that authors also use acronyms and abbreviations carefully. In such cases, either a list of them needs to be provided after the abstract or the abbreviation or acronym needs to be defined the first time it appears in the text.

Step 4. To assess the validity of the article, we suggest your review should answer the following questions:

  • Are the hypotheses valid?
  • Does the work contribute to advancing the field of research?
  • Does the manuscript present any fundamental flaws in the study?
  • Are the methods appropriate and upto-date? When evaluating this, please consider that different institutes have access to different resources. Not all scientists have access to the latest instruments released in the market and their methods might be affected by that. Be reasonable when evaluating this point.
  • Are the tests done appropriate? Do they support the conclusions?
  • Is the data shown consistent with the text? As discussed in the Instructions for Authors, figures and tables need to be consistent with the text.
  • Further evaluation concerns the significance of the title and the abstract. Do they properly describe the content of the article? Are they misleading? Are adjustments needed? As described in the Instructions for Authors, abbreviations and references should not be used in either the title or the abstract.
  • Are graphics and figures consistent, clear, and easy to understand? Are units properly shown and named?
  • If the manuscript is too wordy and the length of it is inappropriate as a consequence, a note to the authors should be given to address this.
  • Check if sources are properly cited and, if not, suggest integration or elimination.

For Select Crowd Review assignments, if you see opinions by other crowd members that you agree with, you don’t need to rephrase them but instead could simply comment with “agree”. If you do not agree with a comment, please also explain why.

Step 5. When summarizing your observations on the manuscript, whether you want to express a positive or a negative aspect of it, remain professional and express your idea politely. Do not be sarcastic or leave inappropriate comments. Be as specific as possible in your feedback to avoid that some comment remains unaddressed because of lack of clarity.

Step 6. Try to give the authors specific suggestions on how to improve their manuscript and if you believe that the article does not fit the current journal, suggest other journals where the article would be more appropriate.

Step 7. When returning your report to the editors, make sure that you clearly state where appropriate what decision you would advise to take on the manuscript: Accept, Accept with minor revision, Accept with major revision, Reject, Reject and resubmit, or Reject with transfer

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