Reviewing Technical Papers for Mining Engineering and Transactions

The reviewer must be objective and try to eliminate any personal bias he or she may have toward the author or the subject matter. At the same time, the reviewer must evaluate the paper in terms of his own experience and knowledge of the field. This involves more than just checking a list of impressions. The reviewer should have some comments that cannot be anticipated in a simple review form. The contribution of time made by those involved in the review system is greatly appreciated by SME. The reviewer is essential to the publication procedure. Reviewers, however, must perform their task in a timely manner. If other commitments prevent the reviewer from returning the form quickly, he or she should return the manuscript so that an alternate reviewer can be found. The Publications Chair is greatly aided in making a final decision by those reviews that offer specific suggestions for improving the manuscript. Completing the Reviewer Report Form is intended to stimulate ideas and comments regarding the paper. Confidential comments are welcomed and may be submitted on a separate sheet.

A. Evaluation Questions - Explanatory Notes and Definitions

  1. A paper prepared for presentation at a meeting is not necessarily written in publishable form. If the data presented are of sufficient interest to warrant publication, the author can be asked to rewrite the material and resubmit it for review.

  2. a) The paper should be an original contribution with respect to technical content, such as;

    • Innovative practice or research,

    • New application of existing technology, or

    • An improved and updated source of current reference material.

    A paper that is an original contribution to technical literature contains information never before published in a form readily available to the public and adds a new concept or development to existing technical knowledge.
    b) A review paper presents new views on older, but still important, problems. A review paper can collect in one document material previously published only in fragmented segments or information not in public domain. To be most useful, a review paper should use bibliographic references to relate to pertinent technical literature.
    c) A progress report paper is generally published as a Technical Note (about 2,000 words). It represents work in progress or continuation of previously published work, not necessarily by the same author. It should make maximum use of references as an alternative to repetition of background information.

  3. Prior publication means the work has been previously available to the engineering profession and can be found in a search of the literature (in English) on the subject. A more subtle form of prior publication is the inclusion of the reviewed paper in another. SME policy discourages prior publication. Papers containing material previously published by other professional organizations or commercial journals are not considered acceptable for review.

B. Recommendation - SME Criteria for Technical Papers The subject matter must be of substantial value as reference material to a number of SME members and a useful contribution to technical literature. The paper must represent competent work, be technically correct and be presented in a professional manner. It must reflect credit to the author, to SME, and to the profession. If rejection is recommended, present your reasons in a manner in which you would want them documented if you had written the paper.

Specific criteria for judging a paper are briefly outlined below:


Brief, descriptive.


Clear indication of object, scope and results.


Logically organized - purpose, description of problem, means of solution, results and conclusions.


Standard SI. Symbols should be SI with dual notation of English units. If this is not done, the author must do so before publication.

Tables and Illustrations

Should be purposeful, prove a point or support a conclusion. They must be limited to pertinent data and easily understood. Tabular material should supplement, not duplicate, the text.

Length All manuscripts should be as concise as possible. Material of questionable value should be eliminated. SME recommends a range of four-six printed pages for papers published in Mining Engineering. Justification should be made for accepting longer papers.

An acceptable technical paper for publication in the Technical Papers section of Mining Engineering has maximum interest in a general or specialized area of mineral engineering technology. It is technically sound, free from personality and commercial bias. It contributes something new to the art and science of engineering. It can be a comprehensive review paper of past and present engineering practice. It should not exceed six printed pages.

An acceptable technical paper for inclusion in the SME Transactions is one of limited interest but of importance to engineering literature. It has long-term reference value indicative of a significant engineering advance. It can be theoretical or experimental in nature. It can be longer than six printed pages but should be as concise as possible. Criteria for Technical Notes are enumerated in A, 2c, above.

Unacceptable Technical Papers are those having an obvious sales approach, those based on fallacious or dubious engineering analysis, and those whose approach is too elementary or descriptive of widely accepted engineering practice.

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