The journal has five major categories into which articles are grouped:
- Science reports are peer-reviewed and should focus on the objectives and the preliminary outcome of drilling projects including outlook for upcoming research on the core and data obtained. Science reports normally refer to completed projects (or major milestones); the target is about 6–8 printed pages.
- Progress reports are peer-reviewed and normally refer to ongoing or very recently completed projects with an emphasis on project activities. They provide fewer scientific results than science reports and are about 3–4 pages long.
- Technical developments (achieved or planned) are peer-reviewed and can describe new or improved drilling and sampling methods, as well as measurements on core or in situ. Articles on technical developments are typically about 3–4 pages long.
- Workshop reports are peer-reviewed and summarize goals, discussions, and conclusions from workshops related to drilling projects or scientific themes intended to be addressed by or highly relevant to scientific drilling. These articles are typically about 2 pages long.
- Program developments are not peer-reviewed and can focus on strategic program developments of non-technical nature, like data management outlook and strategies, the thematic focus of funding agencies, change of focus in research programs, and other drilling-program-related topics. These articles are typically about 2–4 pages long. Program developments must be submitted by email to the managing editor.
In addition, longer articles on major topical workshops can be considered for publication in Scientific Drilling. The style of these articles should be one of a white paper addressing the current status of the specific scientific theme, potential for, and the strategy of drilling for making significant scientific progress in the area of topic. These articles can be 8–12 pages long and will be peer-reviewed.
The journal also publishes the following non-authored article types:
- News items are typically about 100–300 words (⅕ to ½ printed pages), with brief preliminary information on workshops, meetings, or other news related to the scientific drilling community. News items can usually be submitted until about 2 months before journal distribution (end of January for the March issue, end of July for September issue). The authors' names are normally not mentioned.
- The journal also accepts personal views: letters to the editor addressing previously printed articles or other relevant themes of interest to the Earth science community at large. Publication of views will be decided by the editors based on relevance to the journal and previously published articles. In addition, the editors will decide on a case-by-case basis whether or not a response or comment to a view letter is invited. The views section is intended to spur professional discussion. View letters should be a maximum of 350 words and can include one figure.
- Comments and replies are peer-reviewed and 1–2 pages long. A comment paper comments and discusses a paper published in SD no more than two volumes ago. A reply can be sent by the authors of the original paper no later than 1 year after publication of the comment.
- Corrigenda (editor-reviewed) aim to correct an error in a published manuscript. The erratum must be submitted by the corresponding author of the original article by email to the managing editor.