Thursday 23 July 2020

Spotlight on Select Crowd Review - shortlisted for the 2020 ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing

We shall be announcing the winners of the 2020 ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing on 16 September, at the opening of the ALPSP Virtual Conference.  In this series of posts, we meet our finalists and learn more about each of them.

In this post, we hear from Kathrin Ulbrich, Scientific Editor at Thieme about Select Crowd Review.

Tell us a bit about your organization.

Thieme is a leading supplier of information and services contributing to the improvement of healthcare and health. Employing more than 1,000 staff, the family-owned company develops products and services in digital and other media for the medical and chemistry sectors.

Operating internationally with offices in 11 cities worldwide, the Thieme Group works closely with a strong network of experts and partners. The products and services are based on the high-quality content of Thieme’s 200 journals and 4,400 books. With solutions for professionals, Thieme supports relevant information processes in research, education, and patient care. Medical students, physicians, nurses, allied health specialists, hospitals, health insurance companies and others interested in health and healthcare are at focus of Thieme’s activities.

The mission of the Thieme Group is to provide these markets with precisely the information, services, and products they need in their specific work situation and career. Providing top-quality services that are highly relevant to specific audiences, Thieme contributes to better healthcare and healthier lives. For more information about Thieme, please visit

What is Select Crowd Review?

Select Crowd Review offers secure, fast and substantive reviewing in today’s fast-moving scientific world.

The Select Crowd Review process is an interactive and safe way to improve the quality and speed of publishing. It was first introduced for Thieme's chemical synthesis journal SYNLETT in 2017 and allows editors an evaluation of a manuscript within a very short time. Since 2018 it has also been available for SynOpen.
Select Crowd Review uses the mechanisms of social media communication to make the review process much faster than classical peer review, and with the same or even better quality.

Tell us a little about how it works and the team behind it

The initial idea came from the editor-in-chief of Thieme’s journal Synlett, Professor Benjamin List of the Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung in Mülheim an der Ruhr. Working together with the Thieme Chemistry editorial team, the Thieme Group partnered with Filestage to deliver the technical platform.

A selection of about 50-100 experts, who are exclusive members of the crowd, receives a link to the manuscript and can comment on it anonymously via a secure web-interface, provided by our technology Partner Filestage. Only the editor knows who the reviewers are while monitoring the process.

Copyright © Filestage 2020

Each reviewer decides if he or she has time and expertise to comment on the respective article. Participating reviewers see each other's comments and can discuss the research featured in the paper to improve the manuscript further. They can respond, interact, and enhance it in parallel.

Copyright © Filestage 2020

After 48 – 72 hours (on average) the review period ends, and the manuscript is taken off the platform. In the next step, the editor evaluates the comments of the reviewers, decides about accepting (with or without revision) or rejecting the article and sends the feedback of the crowd to the author for consideration and implementation.
Please note that both the crowd size and the review duration are flexible and up to the decision of the editor.

In what ways do you think Select Crowd Review demonstrates innovation?

Since the first ever peer-reviewed journal launched in 1731, peer review methodology has remained unchanged. Select Crowd Review is shaking that model up, leveraging a key driver of digital disruption - the power of the crowd -  in a simple yet very modern, innovative way.

What are your plans for the future?

We already rolling SCR out to our entire portfolio of Thieme Science titles, with a plan to have it in place by the end of 2020.  Filestage is also collaborating with another publisher, Emerald, who have tested it successfully with three journals.

The next steps for product development are to allow real-time collaboration on the platform, integrate the software into manuscript submission systems such as ScholarOne and to add keyword search within Scopus or Publons to make expert crowd recruiting easier.

photo kathrin ulbrichKathrin Ulbrich studied chemistry at the University of Regensburg in Germany. She did her PhD in organic chemistry in the group of Prof. Oliver Reiser. For almost 5 years now she has been working as a scientific editor for Thieme Chemistry with its journals Synlett, Synthesis, Synfacts, SynOpen and Organic Materials.


You can hear from all of this year's finalists at the ALPSP Awards for Innovation Lightning Session on Tuesday 8 September.  Visit the ALPSP website to register and for full details of the ALPSP Virtual Conference and Awards 2020.
The 2020 ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing are sponsored by PLS.

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