Seismological Research Letters

January/February 2011


Over a year ago, I expressed my desire to step down as editor of Seismological Research Letters, in great part because I enjoyed it so much that it was starting to take over my life. I now hand over the helm of SRL to Jonathan Lees and the new enthusiasm and expertise he will surely bring to this publication. I have no doubt that Jonathan will be a great editor as he ushers SRL fully into the electronic era and expands it into new areas with the help and support of SSA’s members.

During my four years as editor, I followed the guidelines set forth by the SSA Publications Committee with flexibility, as Susan Hough, past SRL editor, advised in her farewell letter in 2006 (SRL 77-6). It has been my hope to use flexibility in fostering communication on issues or ideas that may have had trouble seeing the light of day anywhere else.

Sharing the experience of prior editors, I have to say that although Opinion pieces were never plentiful, they always seemed to fall onto my lap when I was almost panicking—some offered as a gift by a brave member, others aided by the gentle nudging of an SSA staff or board member, and others from my direct solicitation at seismological meetings. The Opinion in this issue, however, is unusual as it is written by a cell biologist on a subject that is dear to my heart: Why do some people leave science, or alternatively, why do some of us remain in or even return to academia? I hope you enjoy reading it. Choosing the cover image for an issue was difficult at times, so on occasion, there was a back cover as well. Giving proper respect to the contributions of some of our stellar departed colleagues through the In Memoriam section is one of the tasks that, oddly, I will miss, as it was one of the more human sides of being editor.

Although in my hello letter (SRL 78-2) I promised to do the very best job I could, at times it proved difficult; the growth in submissions and authors’ expectations of rapid response made it stressful to balance editorial responsibilities with other professional obligations and my personal life. We are all aware of this dilemma of modern life.

A troubling aspect of being editor is “dealing with papers that get stuck for long periods of time awaiting an external review. The authors become unhappy and the reviewers reclusive and all complaints end in the editor’s desk,” as John Ebel eloquently stated in his farewell letter in 2001 (SRL 72-6). I am sure this happened more than once, so I apologize to any of you who may have felt neglected.

I am grateful for the vote of confidence of every researcher who submitted a manuscript to SRL: for trusting that I would find a good reviewer to enrich it in some way and that I would do it in a timely manner on behalf of the community. I am awed by the professionalism of our colleagues who selflessly invest their expertise time to make someone else’s work publishable or more relevant. My heartfelt thanks go to all reviewers as well as to the column and associate editors for their help and to authors for their trust and patience. I feel lucky to be a member of a community in which the peer-review system is used so effectively, and seeing it firsthand has encouraged me to do better in all areas of my life.

The timely publication of SRL, in both print and electronic formats, would not be possible without the outstanding work of Managing Editor Mary George, the skill of Copy Editor Laura Caruso, the magic of Designer/Typesetter Rodney Sauer, and the Web support of Bo Orloff. Susan Newman, SSA’s executive director, and Joy Troyer, SSA’s operations manager, have been integral to the success of SRL as our monthly teleconferences kept the momentum going for the next issue in the making.

Two new columns were added to the journal: Historical Seismologist in 2007, where we publish articles with an historic bent; and D.C. Currents in 2009, in which we highlight actions by SSA’s U.S. Government Relations Committee and issues that concern the society’s members. The EduQuakes and Electronic Seismologist columns continue to be an integral part of SRL, but unfortunately we must have become too serious as the Earthquake Lites column submissions ended after my first issue as editor was published. I hope it will return.

The assistance of SRL’s former associate editors, Susan L. Bilek (2007), Michael J. Rymer (2007), and Dan McNamara (2008–09), as well as that of continuing Associate Editor Erol Kalkan (2010), eased my task. It was a pleasure to work with Martin Chapman, who will continue as editor of the Eastern Section. I am also indebted to continuing column editors John E. Ebel and Stuart Nishenko, who handle the Historical Seismologist and D.C. Currents columns, respectively. They will continue to volunteer in this capacity for the society. My continued appreciation goes to both and to Robert L. Newman, who will retire after two years as editor of the Electronic Seismologist column, which featured many Web-based applications and explanations of software packages. I also appreciate the efforts of Robert J. Mellors, who retired as column editor for EduQuakes after five years of actively searching for interesting articles for students or that supported the outreach efforts of SSA. I would also like to thank Kim Olsen, who continues to be the electronic supplements editor for SRL and BSSA. In 2009, Richard M. Allen, Paolo Gasparini, Osamu Kamigaichi, and Maren Bose helped make the special issue on Earthquake Early Warning a reality. With your help, SRL published more than 250 articles over the last four years, many from foreign authors, and 24 opinions.

As outgoing SRL editor, I want to take this opportunity to recognize SSA’s staff commitment to provide electronic access not only to recent SRL issues, but to all issues since 1995. The older issues are being digitized and proofread and will be posted as soon as they are ready on the SSA Web site. I praise and thank Andrew Michael, current chairman of the SSA Publications Committee, for his involvement in making an electronic submission system for SRL a reality in 2011.

On a more personal note, I thank my boss, Frank L. Vernon, without whose unwavering support I would never have been able to perform my job adequately while serving as SRL editor. My gratitude also goes to both Susan Newman and John Ebel, for their advice and support whenever I faced difficult situations or decisions. Finally, I would like to thank my teenage children for their love and support.   

Luciana Astiz lastiz [at] ucsd [dot] edu




Posted: 20 December 2010