As I start my second year as Co-Executive Editor of this journal, I want to
report to you on the progress we have made on the reservoir engineering side of
the journal. But before I get into any details, I would like to thank Alan
Johnson, who recently departed from his role as Co-Executive Editor (Reservoir
Evaluation), for his dedication and many years of valuable contributions to the
journal, and wish him well. Alan will stay on the team as a technical editor. I
would also like to welcome Cosan Ayan as my new Co-Executive Editor, replacing
Alan Johnson. Cosan Ayan has been on the team for several years as a technical
editor and review chair, and I am looking forward to working with him this
The process of peer review is at the heart of the SPE’s mission, “to
collect, disseminate, and exchange technical knowledge.” It is a complicated
and involved activity. At any given time, there are approximately 1,200 people
engaged in various segments of this process (Fig. 1) for our journal. As
a result, organization, discipline, and accountability should be essential
ingredients of this process.
My goal in 2007 was to expedite the process of peer review. With the
increasing number of conferences and technical meetings, we are experiencing an
increase in the number of papers that come through the peer review system
To manage the increasing load, we took the following steps:
• First, I recruited 250 new technical editors for the reservoir engineering
side of the journal, increasing the force from the historical 100 editors to
350 today. The number of review chairs has also been increased from
approximately 10 to 22 today (Fig. 3). The expanded team of editors and
review chairs has allowed us to reduce the backlog while increasing the number
of reviews from two previously to three now for each paper. The latter will
help to enhance the quality of our decisions. I am happy to say that an
increase in the number of technical reviewers is also underway on the reservoir
evaluation side of the journal (Fig. 4).
• The progress here has now shifted the backlog problem from the review
phase to the prepublication phase because of space limitations. To resolve this
new problem, SPE has temporarily increased the number of papers per issue of
• We are now requesting that each author write a short paragraph explaining
his/her paper’s unique contributions and why it ranks high enough for
publication when submitting a paper for peer review. This is an important
deviation from our previous exercise of accepting all papers for peer review.
The new requirement allows the authors to be the first reviewers of their
papers, highlighting their significant contributions to the advancement of
science and technology.
• A special new team of highly experienced technical editors has been
created to handle decline-decision appeals, as well as discussions and
rebuttals of previously published papers.
• With a new timeline for the review process, we are aiming to complete
paper’s review in 16 weeks vs. the previous target of 40 weeks. This is in the
process of implementation as some software reprogramming and recoding is
• The entire SPE publications process—including our peer review process—is
being examined by a consultant with aims of eliminating waste and redundancies.
Once completed and recommendations implemented and a leaner and more efficient
process is in place, it will allow a more disciplined decision making process
and enhanced quality.
• The subscription to the journal is increasing, with the online
subscription becoming increasingly popular.
With these changes either implemented or currently underway, I feel that
substantial improvement will appear on the horizon. I must, however, warn you
that such changes will take some time to take effect. In the meantime, we are
planning to examine the journal’s ranking among similar publications and
implement an efficient paper tracking system, which will allow for the quick
search of the inventory of papers in the electronic peer review system and
identify deviations from the timeline. All of these initiative require
disciplined team work among all the members of the team—from authors to SPE
staff and onto the volunteer teams of executive editors, review chairs, and
technical editors. To make this process run smoothly and efficiently, we need
every team member, including me, to feel responsible for completing their task
at the highest level of quality and on time. It is only then that our
professional society can successfully satisfy its mission of collecting,
disseminating, and exchanging technical knowledge.
- Behrooz Fattahi