Executive Summary

Mustafa Onur, Istanbul Technical University

This is the first issue of the New Year, and I would like to sincerely wish you all a very healthy, happy, successful, and prosperous 2015. I would also like to take this opportunity to provide the SPE Journal performance statistics as presented to us by Jennifer Wegman, SPE Editorial Services Manager, at the 2014 SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition held in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 27–29 October. The performance statistics cover the time period from 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2014.

  • Acceptance rate is 22.6% compared with 37.4% from the previous year.
  • Number of papers submitted for peer review (original submissions) is 407 compared with 294 from the previous year.
  • Number of papers sent directly to peer review is 192, whereas the number of papers presented at SPE conferences before submission to peer review is 215, out of 407 total submissions in 2014.
  • Number of manuscripts accepted for publication is 92 compared with 110 from the previous year.
  • Average time to initial decision is 74.2 days compared with 81.6 days from the previous year.
  • Total number of subscribers is 1,594 (marking the change to online only) compared with 2,123 (1,232 for print and online and 891 for online only) from the previous year.
  • The impact factor is 1.137 compared with 1.011 from the previous year.

These performance statistics for SPE Journal, together with those for SPE’s other journals (SPE Drilling & Completion, SPE Economics & Management, Oil and Gas Facilities, SPE Production & Operations, SPE Reservoir Evaluation & Engineering, and Journal of Canadian Petroleum Technology) were discussed in detail in the Editor-in-Chief/Executive Editors meeting held in Amsterdam. It was found that the decrease in acceptance rate is common to all SPE journals and not specific to SPE Journal, and for the July 2013–June 2014 period, on the average, 20% of journal submissions were approved for publication, even though SPE Journal is approximately three units above this average. (As a side note, the acceptance rate is calculated by the number of accepted papers divided by the total number of submissions.)

As a result of declining acceptance rates, the overall number of published papers has also been decreasing. However, this does not mean that the number of quality manuscripts is decreasing. In fact, all Executive Editors were in consensus that they were receiving the same number of quality papers, but more submissions overall. The main reason for more submissions is that the percentage of papers submitted directly to peer review has increased over the years. For instance, SPE journals now receive approximately 40% of their submissions directly for peer review (47% for SPE Journal), with the remaining 60% being presented at SPE conferences before submission (53% for SPE Journal). This translates to 47% for direct-to-peer and 53% conference for SPE Journal. While this reflects a broadening of content sources (i.e., authors prefer sending their papers to SPE journals), these direct-to-peer papers are predominantly from authors of emerging countries and often do not meet SPE’s quality standards. In fact, SPE is taking steps to improve overall writing quality by offering workshops on how to write quality papers, with plans to provide previously recorded sessions from these workshops online.

Declining acceptance rates have also brought this question to the table: Are we rejecting good papers because of inconsistent or inappropriate evaluations? Dean Oliver, Editor-in-Chief, has recommended that some checking of the justification for decline decisions be considered by editors before sending to authors, and that the reasons for decline decisions need to be carefully justified. He noted that acceptance rates are typically at 60% in atmospheric science journals, as reported by Schultz (2010), who considered 47 journals in atmospheric sciences.

As can be seen from the subscription numbers given previously, subscriptions for SPE Journal (and for other SPE journals) has decreased for 2014 with the move to online-only issues. Subscriptions are expected to rebound next year as SPE works to educate members on the benefits of an online subscription (one major benefit is that subscribers have access to the journal’s archives for the length of their subscription; if a subscriber does not renew, he/she will be able to retain access to the archives for the year of their subscription).

It is clear that we have significantly improved (decreased) our average time to initial decision (74.2 days), though the target was 100 days. Our impact number has slightly increased over the year, with no indications of decreasing quality in our publications. Perhaps we need to find ways or develop strategies to further increase the journal’s impact factor (e.g., to a level of 2.00 or more). As we have emphasized in this column many times, one way to achieve this is to facilitate access to SPE Journal by other disciplines. This will provide the papers in SPE Journal with the level of exposure that is available in other high-impact-factor journals. This may be achieved by making SPE Journal an attractive option for the publication of manuscripts by those authors who rarely submit a paper directly to peer review in SPE Journal, but publish frequently for other journals. We also think that encouraging author groups who have performed significant research on special topics to submit review papers on those topics will help to increase exposure; therefore, we extend this invitation to researchers to submit these types of papers on up-to-date research topics.

In short, I can say in confidence that the performance of SPE Journal over the last year is quite satisfactory, and SPE Journal is becoming more and more attractive for authors and readers.

In regards to this issue, I have chosen 16 manuscripts from our accepted manuscripts pool, covering a wide spectrum of subjects, including enhanced oil recovery (eight papers), unconventional reservoirs (four papers), and history matching (four papers). I hope that you enjoy the February 2015 issue and its 16 manuscripts. See you in the June 2015 issue.

Cheerio and thank you!


Schultz, D.M. 2010. Rejection Rates for Journals Publishing in the Atmospheric Sciences. Bull. Amer. Meteorol. Soc. 91 (2): 213–243. http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/2009BAMS2908.1.