Who Reads SPE Journal?
When potential authors select an SPE journal for submission of their
manuscripts, they should encounter (and read) a description of the journal. The
current description for SPE Journal reads, "Technical journal
focusing on fundamental scientific research pertaining to exploration and
production of hydrocarbon resources including laboratory and field research,
numerical studies, and theoretical analysis." When manuscripts are
submitted to SPE J., they are first measured against this standard. Many
excellent manuscripts are declined because it is clear that they contain no
fundamental scientific research--they have been submitted to an inappropriate
journal. A second broad group of manuscripts are declined because the research
they describe does not pertain to exploration and production of hydrocarbon
resources. Manuscripts on causes of obesity on offshore platforms almost
certainly fall into this category.
Some categories of manuscripts are more difficult to classify. In
particular, note that the subject of the first paper in this issue of SPE
J. is bias in forecasts of investment profit. By strict standards, it could
be said that the manuscript does not address exploration and production of
hydrocarbon resources; yet, it was selected because uncertainty and the use of
Bayesian updating to remove bias are closely related to topics that are key
components of this journal.
Another topic that has sometimes been difficult to justify from the
description of SPE J. is CO2 sequestration. Again, by
strict interpretation, it does not seem to meet the criterion that the research
must pertain to exploration and production of hydrocarbon resources; yet, there
is considerable overlap in technology and, of course, hydrocarbon reservoirs
may be suitable sequestration locations.
The question of appropriate topics suggests a related question: What do
readers of SPE J. expect to see in the journal? This is a difficult
question, one that would best be answered by a survey, but some indication of
interest can be gleaned from citation records. Papers that have been cited
frequently in the scientific literature have established that they have
attracted a significant level of interest from other researchers. We might be
able to make some conclusions about the interest level in certain topics by
investigating the citation rates of papers in SPE J. However, the
investigations should be done on papers that have been in print for several
years, papers that have had time to be cited. Therefore, I looked at citation
rates for all papers published in SPE J. in 2005.
The results are quite interesting. The 45 papers published were cited 126
times, or nearly three times per paper. The distribution is far from uniform,
however, as seen in Fig. 1. In particular, note that, while nine papers
have not yet been cited and fifteen have been cited only once through April
2009, three papers published in 2005 have been cited 15 or more times. Two of
the top three papers were about CO2 sequestration; the third was
about the ensemble Kalman filter.
There is an irony in the fact that the topic of CO2 sequestration
in deep saline aquifers was considered possibly inappropriate for SPE J.
based on the description of the journal, yet the papers that SPE J.
published on that subject are among the most highly cited for that year. We
might conclude that readers of SPE J. are not averse to papers on
CO2 sequestration. The subject of the third highly cited paper was
the use of the ensemble Kalman filter for reservoir monitoring.
The subjects of the 2005 papers that have been cited four to eight times
include laboratory investigations of pore-scale geometry and water blocking
(2), history matching (2), numerical analysis of heavy-oil production (1), and
composition routes in ternary systems (1). Other than the fact that all of the
papers with relatively high citation rates are related to reservoir
engineering, there are few surprises in the topics. Even the distribution of
citations comes close to following the Pareto principle (also known as the
80/20 rule). In this case, 80% of the citations are generated by 35% of the
papers (Fig. 2).
Changes to the Board
In other matters, I would like to welcome six new associate editors to the
SPE J. editorial board: Zuleima Karpyn, Knut-Andreas Lie, Younane
Abousleiman, Amy Kan, Randy Seright, and Gaoming Li. Each editor brings
valuable expertise in an area that is important to the focus of SPE J.
Adding associate editors is important to ensure that manuscripts are reviewed
thoroughly and relatively quickly. I would also like to acknowledge the
valuable service to the board provided by Sigurd Aanonsen, who recently retired
from the board as an associate editor.
1—Histogram of frequency of citation for all papers from the 2005 issues of
SPE J. Fifteen papers have been cited once since
2—Cumulative citation rate for papers, ranked from highest to lowest citation