Executive Summary

Mustafa Onur, Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS

This is my first column as Executive Editor (EE) of SPE Journal (SPE J.). Firstly I should state that I am honored to serve as one of the co-EEs of this esteemed premier journal of SPE, which has been always at the top of the list of the journals that I prefer to read and publish. Without a doubt, SPE J. is one of the few highest quality journals, with a very long history focusing on publication of high-quality fundamental and applied research on the subjects related to Science of Petroleum Engineering. For sure, the articles published previously in SPE J. lay the foundations of the technology that is used today or underdevelopment. I strongly believe that SPE J. is quite important for the Petroleum Engineering Community.

Effective 2013, due to the volume of papers submitted to the journal, the SPE J. becomes a bi-monthly publication rather than quarterly. Hence, the SPE Board Committee on Publications and Electronic Media (PEM) has decided to assign two co-executive editors for SPE J. Dr. Yucel Akkutlu of Texas A&M University and I have been invited as EEs, and we have started to serve as co-executive editors of SPE J.for the next three-year term effective October 2012, right after the 2012 SPE ATCE held in San Antonio, TX, USA.

As EEs of the journal, we are responsible not only writing the Executive Editor column in each issue but also assuring timely peer-review of the papers submitted to the journal and publication of high quality papers with the help of the Associate (AEs) and Technical Editors (TEs) who work voluntarily for the journal, and the SPE's experienced Publication Staff. Yucel and I have decided that each of us takes alternating months to write the EE column in total of 6 issues. As SPE J. will be published February, April, June, August, October, and December, I will be responsible to write the EE columns for the February, June, and October issues, while Yucel will be responsible for the columns in the alternating issues. Of course, for establishing coherence in the contents of the EE columns, Yucel and I will always be in touch and communication. In the April issue, Yucel will be with you.

As commencing our role as EE, both Yucel and I would like to thank and acknowledge Professor Anthony Kovscek who has passed the flag to us in this "relay race." During his tenure as a single EE of SPE J., Anthony’s achievements are quite significant and remarkable; not only the peer-review process is further improved but also the number and quality of fundamental papers reviewed and published in SPE J. further increased. Under his executive editorship (during the past three years 2012), around 1000 papers (conference plus direct to Peer) were reviewed for and 298 papers were published in SPE J. He managed to reduce the time to initial decision for a paper (about 81 days) less than 112 days, which is the target time to an initial decision for all SPE journals in aggregate. The acceptance rate for publication during his term is around 30% on the average. Like the previous EEs of SPE J., Anthony has left his imprint on the journal, and his significant contribution to the Journal will be difficult to replicate. We are happy and fortunate that Anthony has agreed to continue to be on the board in the role of an AE.

During the tenure of all the previous EEs, the focus of SPE J. has been on publication of the results of high-quality fundamental and applied research, R&D, and novel solutions that span all technical disciplines in the upstream oil and gas industry. We have every intention of maintaining this focus during our three-year term.

With this issue, you may notice some changes in the Editorial Review Board. New associate editors are joined the board and some completed their services and retired. SPE J. currently has 45 Associate Editors. Their main role is to identify whether the manuscript merits publication in SPE J.. However, this role is very critical to the timeliness of the reviews, as it is their responsibility to identify potential reviewers (or TEs) and summarize the reviews when they come back. I sincerely thank each of our AEs for their valuable times and dedication. For timeliness and the quantity of reviews and retirements that we may face, we believe that we need to invite more AEs to the board. We are always open to suggestions for new associate editors in appropriate areas. It is important that AEs are authors of papers in peer-reviewed journals and have experience in reviewing papers. Currently, we request from an AE to review five to eight papers per year, though some of the AEs may handle considerably more than that. Adding more AEs to the board will reduce the workload of the AEs and reduce the turnaround time (from submission to first decision) to say 75 days. If you are interested or nominate someone for this role, please do not hesitate to send your requests/nominations with a CV attached to me (mustafa.onur@petronas.com.my and/or onur@itu.edu.tr).

With this issue, we would like to welcome new outstanding AEs to the Editorial Board; Albert C. Reynolds of U. of Tulsa, OK, USA; Dean Oliver of the Uni Centre for Integrated Petroleum Research in Bergen, Norway; Anthony Kovscek of Stanford U., Yildiray Cinar of U. of New South Wales, Australia; Xiaolong Yin of Colorado School of Mines; and Rami M. Younis of U. of Tulsa. They are all worldwide well-known experts in their respected fields of study, and their addition to the board certainly will further enrich and strengthen the SPE J. We would also like to recognize the services of Matt Ja Jackson, Yu Shu Wu, Mohammad Piri, Dongxiao Zhang, Hong-Quan Zhang, and Srdjan Nesic who have completed their services and retired.

The impact factor seems to be a standard tool for measuring the influence that the articles in a journal within its field have on the advancement of knowledge. It measures the way a journal receives citations to its articles over time. It is calculated by dividing the number of current citations a journal receives to articles published in the two (or five) previous years by the number of articles published in those same years. So, for example, the 2011 impact factor (based on 2-year) is the citations in 2011 to articles published in 2009 and 2010 divided by the number articles published in 2009 and 2010. The 2-year impact factor is referred to the impact factor or ISI-impact factor, where ISI represents the Institute of Scientific Information.

Many universities, research bodies, librarians, and higher education councils use it as a proxy to assess their staff performance and rank the institutions and the journals. As pointed out by Dean Oliver and Anthony Kovscek in their EE columns in SPE J. in the past, the impact factor as a metric makes sense only if it is used to make comparisons of the journals in the same subject area or discipline. This is often misunderstood or misused. Nevertheless, it is important to improve the impact factor of a Journal, though there are some short comings associated with it and there are alternative metrics (for example see, Anthony's column in 2010-September issue).

Among publications in the petroleum engineering science, the SPE J. scores well using the impact factor. Our 2-year and 5-year impact factors through 2011 are 1.145 and 1.52, respectively. This corresponds to about 5% increase as compared to the corresponding impact numbers in 2009. In comparison, the 2011 2-year and 5-year impact factors for the SPE Reservoir Engineering and Evaluation (SPE REE) are 0.944 and 1.033, respectively, and the Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering (JPSE) are 0.869 and 1.177, respectively. Other journals in related fields have the following 2011 impact factors [e.g.,Water Resources Research, 2.957 (3.246); Computational Geosciences, 1.348 (1.538); Mathematical Geosciences (formerly Math Geology), 1.354 (1.585); Transport in Porous Media, 1.811 (1.643)]. The numbers in parentheses represent 5-year impact factors.

One common issue that the authors often complain is the long publishing times and turnaround times in SPE journals, though significant improvements on this have been achieved compared to very past. I believe that this issue has caused some researchers to publish more in other journals in related fields. Another reason is that the access to SPE journals seems to be fairly difficult compared to the other journals preferred by the researchers. As a result, it seems that research in SPE journals does not get the exposure that is available in other journals. So, this is something that we have to think about it during our tenure together with the SPE Publication Staff and Managers. In fact, we are open to any suggestions to make research in SPE J. to get the desired level of exposure so that the researchers prefer more to publish in SPE J.

In closing, I hope that you enjoy the February issue and its 15 manuscripts. See you in June 2013 issue. Cheerio and thank you.