While I have been Executive Editor (EE) of SPE Journal, I have
typically ended the year with a brief report about the review process and
overall status of the journal. The December issue, however, was largely devoted
to the topic of the storage and use of CO2 in oil reservoirs, gas
shale formations, coalbeds, and saline aquifers. The EE summary of that issue
did not seem to be well suited for a discussion of the status of the journal.
Accordingly, I would like to take the opportunity in this first issue of 2012
to give you an update.
One of the frustrations that I have heard, and that I share with authors, is
the time required to obtain reviews and make an initial decision on manuscript
submissions to any journal. With SPE Journal , we do want to take
sufficient time to collect informed opinions about manuscripts, but reviews
need to happen in a timely fashion. As an editorial team, we have made a
conscious effort at timeliness and we have made significant progress in this
area. The ScholarOne manuscript system has helped as well by making it easier
for editors, SPE staff, and authors to track manuscripts. Last year (1 July
2010 to 30 June 2011), we averaged 99 days from submission to notification of
authors of the first decision on their manuscript. The number of days in review
is well under our target time of 112 days and significantly less than our time
to decision a few years ago. Our goal now is to maintain times to decision of
around 100 days.
The most frequent initial decision on manuscripts remains "Major Revisions."
I was pleasantly surprised, however, that we did have one paper this year that
was "Accept" after the first round of revisions. Actually, I had to double
check everything about the paper because this outcome has occurred so rarely.
Our ultimate acceptance ratio remains slightly better than 1 in 3. That is, of
the 223 original submissions this year, approximately a third ultimately ended
with a positive decision to publish. We do not keep such statistics, but my
estimation is that the average manuscript goes through three rounds of review
before being judged acceptable.
Our number of submissions this year is down somewhat from the roughly 240
per year over the past 2 years. The number of papers published in calendar year
2011 was 87, whereas in 2010 and 2009 the number of publications each year was
92 and 74, respectively. These changes do not seem to be significant. We are
receiving a good number of high-quality papers for review that are ultimately
being published. At this point, I should reiterate that we do not have a target
for number of papers published, nor do we have a target for acceptance
An interesting trend that has continued is the submission of relatively
large numbers of direct-to-peer manuscripts. These are papers that were not
necessarily presented at an SPE meeting and their authors submitted them
directly to SPE Journal for consideration.
Returning to the question of author satisfaction, I have advocated an author
survey for some time now. I believe that it is important for authors to provide
input about their happiness regarding the time needed for review, decision
making, and required revision where appropriate as well as the authors’
opinions about whether the revisions requested as a part of peer review
actually improved their manuscript. Authors are not associated with their
responses so that they are free to give candid opinions. I am happy to say that
such a survey is being implemented across the SPE journals in 2012, as it was
through much of 2011. Although social science researchers have shown that the
public is tired of completing surveys, I urge authors who receive invitations
to provide feedback to do so. Survey results provide important hard data about
author satisfaction and point out specific areas for improvement.
In closing, I hope that you enjoy this issue and its 25 manuscripts. A full
spectrum of topics, from pore-level mixed wettability to history matching to
well stimulation, is present.