At least once every year, the Editorial Board of SPEJ
meets with SPE publications staff to discuss the status of the journal and
identify opportunities for improvement. As usual, the meeting this year was at
the Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition in San Antonio, Texas. This
month’s column summarizes the topics that were discussed by the board.
The importance of SPEJ to the petroleum engineering research
community can be at least partially measured by its impact factor. The most
recent impact factor provides the ratio of the number of citations in 2005 (in
any journal) of articles published in SPEJ in 2003 and 2004 to the total
number of articles published in SPEJ in 2003 and 2004. A high impact
factor means that the articles are cited at a high rate within the first 2
years after publication. The impact factor for SPEJ is 0.816. The
next highest impact factor for any petroleum engineering journal is 0.566, so
SPEJ does very well within the petroleum engineering field. On the other
hand, there was a general recognition that SPEJ papers are not cited as
frequently as they would be if the journal papers were easier to access by
readers who are not members of SPE—groundwater hydrologists, for instance, do
not have easy access to SPEJ, even though the papers may be highly
appropriate for their community. It is currently the discussion feature that
prevents the journal from being made available to anonymous library users.
Another indicator of success of the journal is the magnitude of the increase
in subscriptions—up 28% over last year in the case of SPEJ.
The journal remains quite selective. In the last 12 months approximately 440
manuscripts were submitted to SPEJ for publication, but only 48 were
published. This rate of acceptance has been relatively steady for the past few
years. Many of the papers that are submitted are interesting and probably
should be published, but not in SPEJ, which tries to focus on
fundamental research in petroleum engineering-related areas.
The members of the Editorial Board acknowledged the perception that the
review process for SPEJ has sometimes been relatively slow in the past,
but that the current time required to get a decision is substantially
better than it has been. The electronic review system, which has only been in
operation for 2 years, has made a substantial difference in the ability to
track manuscripts and to chase editors who are not responsive to requests to
review. In fact, one request from the Board is that the length of time that a
reviewer is allowed before getting a reminder should be shortened from 90 to 45
days. The SPE staff has agreed to implement this change to the system.
The Board also discussed whether the SPE publication process might be
discouraging quality papers from being submitted to SPEJ. The typical
procedure, which requires that the papers be accepted for presentation at an
SPE technical conference before being considered for publication in a journal,
excludes many of the fundamental papers in favor of applied works and case
studies. The Board has made the decision to actively encourage manuscripts
that are submitted directly to the journal and to pursue cooperative agreements
with a few non-SPE research conferences.
The Board acknowledged the difficulty of finding Review Chairs and reviewers
who have both the commitment to the job of reviewing as well as the thick
skin required by the rigors of academic critique. The Review Chairs are
critical to the timelines of the reviews, as it is their responsibility to
identify potential reviewers and summarize the reviews when they come back.
This month, I would like to welcome several outstanding new Review Chairs to
the Editorial Board: Henning Omre, Yu-Shu Wu, Mazen Kanj, Russ Ewy, and
I hope that you enjoy this issue.