Who Cares About Peer Review?
- Dennis Beliveau (Consultant)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- March 2009
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 18 - 20
- 2009. Copyright is retained by the author. This document is distributed by SPE with the permission of the author. Contact the author for permission to use material from this document.
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In 2009, SPE expects to publish more than 300 peer-approved papers in its journals, a small fraction of the more than 2,500 technical papers generated each year by SPE conferences. Thousands of hours of volunteer time are spent each year reviewing, selecting, and refining the papers that make the peer-approved cut. Did you ever wonder why SPE goes to all of this effort?
At 51 years of age and with approximately 30 years of experience under my (ever-widening) belt, I am just a few years older than the average SPE member. Some of my SPE activities have included serving on both meeting and journal technical review committees, and some (but not all) of the SPE papers that I have written have made it through the peer-approval process and have been published in a journal. So perhaps my experiences with SPE peer-reviewed journals and publication processes could be considered close to those of a typical but fairly active society member.
JPT began publication in 1949 with a circulation of approximately 4,500, and showcased 40 key peer-reviewed technical papers during its inaugural year. Technical coverage was expanded when our flagship journal was joined in 1961 by the more technical and research-oriented Society of Petroleum Engineers Journal (SPEJ). And through the 1960s and 1970s, the SPE Board of Directors continued to look at how all communication vehicles could be improved to better serve the needs of our growing membership through dissemination of important technology developments. In 1974, a committee chaired by H.J. Ramey Jr. submitted a report to the SPE Board with nine programming recommendations and 16 publishing recommendations, virtually all of which were eventually adopted by the board in 1976 in the SPE’s first Long Range Plan. This work more formally recognized the essential and critical links between meeting program committees and journal publication committees, and the need for them to work closely together. Presciently, the committee noted that additional peer-reviewed technical publications would likely be required in the future to properly serve the rapidly expanding breadth and depth of interests of SPE members.
As predicted, the continued strong growth in technology made the need for additional journals increasingly obvious, and in 1985 the board approved the publication of four new topically oriented peer-reviewed technical journals, as well as the discontinuance of SPEJ. SPE Drilling Engineering, SPE Production Engineering, SPE Formation Evaluation, and SPE Reservoir Engineering began bimonthly publication in 1986. During 1996, SPE made two more significant changes: JPT discontinued publishing peer-approved papers1 and a new peer-reviewed journal, SPE Journal, was started to publish papers of a fundamental science and research nature. Since then, the peer-reviewed journals have become more multidisciplinary and project focused, with technical coverage now broken into SPE Drilling & Completion; SPE Production & Operations; SPE Projects, Facilities & Construction; and SPE Reservoir Evaluation & Engineering. It should be no surprise that evolution of the journal titles and contents reflects the increasingly multifaceted and cross-functional nature of our complex and fascinating business.
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