Welcome to the November 2019 issue of SPE Production & Operations. During this year’s SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, there was a meeting held between the editor-in-chief (EIC), the executive editors, and SPE publications staff to evaluate the state of SPE’s peer-reviewed journals. The meeting covered several key areas, with interesting statistics highlighted by SPE staff and the EIC. I would like to share this information with our readers and authors in this Executive Summary. There are several goals of the editorial committee, including (1) improving the impact factor of journals, (2) shortening peer-review time, (3) improving technical reviewer quality, and (4) enhancing the quality of published papers.
The first encouraging sign for SPE journals is the increase of impact factors. From 2014 to 2018, the impact factor of SPE Production & Operations, SPE Drilling & Completion, SPE Reservoir Evaluation & Engineering, and SPE Journal increased from 0.608 to 1.595, 0.308 to 1.327, 0.99 to 1.807, and 1.308 to 3.095, respectively. The reasons for these increases are multifold. For example, more submissions nowadays are direct-to-peer as opposed to in the past when the source of SPE journal papers was predominantly conferences. Adding to the issue is that, in many cases, authors would continue to reference the conference version of a paper over the peer-reviewed version. I would like to stress that if you are an author, it is important to cite the journal version of the paper rather than the conference version. This will help improve the impact factor of the journal and in turn enhance at least the face value of your papers.
Another area we wish to improve is the review time. We are fully aware that the time it takes for a paper to be approved for publication is longer than that of many journals outside SPE. Currently, a paper is reviewed first by at least three reviewers. Each reviewer ranks the paper as “unpublishable,” “publishable with major changes,” “publishable with minor changes,” or “publishable with no changes.” The reviewers have 30 days to complete the review and provide the recommendation. While 30 days seems a long time, one must consider a volunteer technical reviewer having to deal with his or her regular work tasks and the number of papers distributed in his or her inbox. In light of this, getting all the reviews done could be challenging from time to time.
Following initial review, authors have 30 days to resubmit their manuscripts for major changes and 15 days for minor changes. This can sometimes lead to a second level of complication when a paper is submitted after author revision and it is sent to reviewers different from those in the first round of review because the original reviewers are unavailable. In such cases, there have been times that a “minor change” rating became a “major change” rating after the revision. Thankfully, these situations are rare, but when they do occur, it can be frustrating to the authors.
On the other hand, good and thorough technical reviews are critical to the quality of the papers published in our journal. Good papers sometimes need an extra pair of eyes to perfect. A good technical review does not have to come from experts on the subject matter; it can often come from those who are novices to the subject or even outside the domain of expertise. With an inquisitive mind, these people may ask questions about or make suggestions to content that experts think intuitive, but about which the broader number of readers would need more explanation. As SPE is making every effort to improve the review process and paper quality, I would like to encourage technical reviewers to continue sharpening their review skills, and I would like to invite more authors and readers to join this cause by serving as reviewers for SPE publications.
As for this month’s issue, there are four main technical topics covered, including Data Analytics, Hydraulic-Fracture Modeling, Production Processes, and Well Intervention. I hope you enjoy reading them.
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