Mind your manners

Jan. 23, 2017
Ask any editor at Oil & Gas Journal, and he or she will tell you it's as gratifying to receive a manuscript for publication consideration as it is for a potential contributing author to submit it.

Robert Brelsford
Downstream Technology Editor

Ask any editor at Oil & Gas Journal, and he or she will tell you it's as gratifying to receive a manuscript for publication consideration as it is for a potential contributing author to submit it. Aside from the fact that selecting quality technical content for OGJ's readership is our primary job function, every review of every article brings with it an opportunity to learn something new about our industry and how it works.

We may be huddled in the confines of our cubicles during the review process, but in a very special way, the four fabric walls of that space often act as a living classroom. We know a lot about technology, mind you, but each newly submitted manuscript brings with it the possibility of new knowledge-stories of new technologies at work, new processes implemented, new ways of working with technologies that have been around for years. Sometimes a manuscript challenges us, forces us to dig deeper into a topic on which-perhaps up to the point of reviewing a particular submission-we believed we could write the proverbial book.

Given the volume of articles OGJ receives, we as editors are never plagued with the career ennui that all too frequently occurs in many other professions. We're constantly learning, constantly investigating, constantly keeping ourselves up to speed on the cutting edge of our trade to ensure the content we publish is useful to the industry we serve.

This also means, however, that we are busy.

Very busy.

So when we tell a hopeful contributor his or her submission is under careful review, we mean just that.

Pester me once…

The review process at OGJ is a thoughtful one. Unlike many publications in our industry, we don't blindly accept a manuscript because of a particular name or company attached to it. Nor do we accept a manuscript based on a promise-or even the reality-of advertising dollars to paint our pages. Simply put, we're not pay-to-play.

We accept an article for publication based on the merit of its content. Our standards are high, yes, but that's what differentiates us from other shops. It's also why the industry trusts us.

When a manuscript falls into that nebulous classification space between either a clear-cut acceptance or rejection, the editor's review process then moves beyond the four walls of the cubicle. We seek input from fellow editors, from industry contacts, and most importantly, members of our Editorial Advisory Board.

As editors, we naturally understand an author's eagerness and anticipation for a response, and we do what we can to expedite the process. But the process takes time. Sometimes longer than we'd prefer, yes, but it takes as long as it takes.

An inquiry as to the status of an article from an author during the review process is always welcomed. A gentle reminder never hurt anyone.

But note well the singularity of the above: "an inquiry."

When an author extends that singularity into plurality and beyond…well, let's just say it makes the decision an easier one.

Guide to rejection

In lieu of regurgitating OGJ's standards and guidelines for increasing the likelihood of a manuscript's acceptance, I'll instead offer a simple guide for those authors seeking sure-fire rejection:

• E-mail or call an editor multiple times within a 24-hr period for consecutive days until you receive a response.

• Issue an editor an ultimatum (e.g., "You have until 5 p.m. on the 2nd day of May to accept this manuscript, or I will withdraw and submit it to your primary competitor").

• Mass e-mail the entirety of OGJ's staff seeking a decision on a manuscript already previously acknowledged to be under review by a specific section editor.

• Phone an editor on his or her mobile number at 2:30 a.m. and leave a rambling, 10-min message detailing your desperation for an acceptance to help validate a pending patent you have on the technology addressed in the submission.

• Attempt to bribe an editor with a series of full-page ads in the magazine if the manuscript is accepted.

Slightly unbelievable that these are the lengths to which some authors will go, but they have.

In a weird way, though, it's understandable. After all, this is OGJ.