Scope of Interpretation

Interpretation seeks papers directly related to the practice of interpretation of the earth's subsurface for exploration and extraction of mineral resources and for environmental and engineering applications.


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While many activities of geoscientists routinely require judgment, interpretation here specifically refers to conceptualization of the subsurface by an interpreter with incomplete information and a-priori knowledge. An interpreter evaluates alternative subsurface models consistent with available data and selects the most plausible geophysical and geologic scenarios by following scientific methods.

Relevant contributions to Interpretation include, but are not limited to, submissions that advance geophysical or geologic concepts and principles of interpretation; correlation and calibration with engineering data; planning and evaluation of alternative completion strategies, case studies; algorithms for interpretation tools; and workflows, pitfalls, observations, insights, technical challenges, and tutorials. An Interpretation article is not required to contain an interpretation; it only has to help advance the practice of interpretation. Likewise an article may focus on interpretation of a data set if this provides significant new insight on the geology of an area or on the workflow used. Articles that describe interpretation methods and applications involving integration of multiple data sets to quantify as well as visualize subsurface structure are strongly encouraged.

Interpretation is a dedicated forum for subsurface interpretation geoscientists. For papers focused on interpretation concepts, methodologies, tools, and workflows, the journal requires originality, completeness of descriptions, and demonstrations of viability. For papers that contain subsurface interpretations, the journal's novelty requirement can be satisfied by new applications of established methods. This is different from SEG's other peer-reviewed journal, Geophysics, in which the presentations of novel ideas and methods themselves are normally required. The AAPG Bulletin is the geologic counterpart of Geophysics. The papers in Geophysics, the AAPG Bulletin, and many other geosciences journals build the knowledge foundation for the multidisciplinary work in Interpretation. SEG's magazine, The Leading Edge (TLE), has published Interpreter's Corner as a monthly feature and has had many special sections on interpretation during its 30 years. With more limited article length and a less-stringent requirement for demonstration of methodology details for reproducibility, TLE aims for all of its contents to be accessible to a broad range of geoscientists. TLE is not recognized as a formally peer-reviewed publication, whereas Interpretation, an archival journal, expects to gain recognition in the Science Citation Index, increasing its value to academic authors.

As with Geophysics, the review process for Interpretation will be constructive, designed to help authors improve their papers and to safeguard the standard of the journal. Because interpretation is called for in instances when knowledge is incomplete, data are insufficient, and solutions are nonunique, results reported in Interpretation might contain irreproducible, speculative, or controversial elements. Reviewers evaluate geophysical and geologic soundness of the applied methodologies and conclusions, the relevance and importance to other interpretation geophysicists, and clarity of presentation. A contribution can be novel if the interpretation technique is new, the data are new, the exploration area is new, the exploitation method is new, or the interpretation outcome is new.

An Interpretation paper likely might be the result of a business project that was completed or terminated long before the paper submission. It might not be justifiable for the contributing authors to maintain continued access to proprietary project data or to spend significant additional project resources for the purpose of addressing some of the technical deficiencies identified by the reviewers. An Interpretation paper could include a section on "Suggestions for further study" in which new ideas for expanding the work can be put forward,  technical weaknesses of the work can be enumerated, and remedies of such weaknesses can be proposed. This might be an important section for geosciences students who have less frequent exposure to real data or problems.

Advertising is not allowed to masquerade as a technical contribution, but mentioning brand names can be tolerated when kept to a minimum, when a commercial product is important in a presented workflow, and when there is no conflict of interest. In the sense of tool utilization, an interpreter's work is not dissimilar to that of a medical doctor. A doctor would not be able to convey the results of her clinical study adequately if she were prevented from naming the brand of a drug or tools she used in treating patients. Interpretation encourages authors to use a more generic or scientific term to describe a particular software vendor's implementation.

For Interpretation, the editorial decision would align with the answer to the following question: "Would the interpretation community be better served if the paper were published?" A technical contribution written in English is accepted for review with the understanding that (1) it has neither been accepted for publication nor published elsewhere either in whole or in part and (2) it is neither currently being considered by another journal nor will be submitted to another journal either in whole or in part while under consideration for Interpretation.

All authors are required to follow all other ethical policies stipulated by SEG and AAPG, including the Ethical Guidelines for SEG Publications.


Read the latest issue of Interpretation in the SEG Library

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