September/October 2013

Editor’s Farewell

doi: 10.1785/0220130116

I regret needing to bid farewell as editor-in-chief of Seismological Research Letters (SRL). I accepted editorial leadership in our community with enthusiasm and anticipation, I have enjoyed the challenge, and I had planned to serve a much longer term. But the dean at University of North Carolina (UNC), Chapel Hill, asked me to take responsibility as chairman of the Department of Geological Sciences, and I have been informed (warned) by wise council that it would be foolish for me to try to do both of these important jobs at the same time. I am writing this note days before I officially take the helm and already I have had to deal with a whole range of management decisions I did not know existed at the department level.

SRL is an exclusive window into our science, a channel to share new ideas within the discipline, and an outlet to reveal our contributions to the wider world. This journal differs from other venues in which we present our thoughts and data. In SRL we air controversies, introduce preliminary results, and relate the connection between engineering and seismology. Earthquake seismology plays a central role in the pages of SRL, but over the years we have seen an extension into the more unusual aspects of seismology and society. For example, I think it would be useful to further engage the active source community and the ever expanding infrasound researchers in our pages.

Seismologists are experts in graphical representation, animation, and other imaginative ways for conveying scientific information. Let us work together to project our field to the wider community and get the next generation involved and excited.

It has been a pleasure to step in as editor and assist authors by shepherding papers through the publishing process. As a unique society venue, SRL provides a platform for researchers to bring new ideas, observations, and discussions to the table prior to the final, more staid, presentations in other journals. This means that the articles are sometimes rougher, more out-there, and occasionally more controversial than our more definitive publications. We have also made a deliberate effort to open opportunities for international colleagues to present early or preliminary results from expanding seismic networks on the world stage. This global approach has expanded our reach and impact.

Over the last few years we have had great success with the “SRL Focus Issue.” These collections of directed interest have drawn considerable attention in the broader community for highlighting timely and topical items. The focus issue on the Christchurch event (volume 82, number 6, November/December 2011, with guest editor Erol Kalkan) drew considerable international attention and is considered a great success. Other foci included the section on earthquake simulators (volume 83, number 6, November/December 2012, with guest editor Terry Tullis), and the section on geodetic transient detection (volume 84, number 3, May/June 2013, with guest editors Rowena B. Lohman and Jessica R. Murray). These special sections were deemed important, and we decided at the time to make the focus issue a regular feature.

In the fall of 2012 Seismological Society of America (SSA) Executive Director Susan Newman invited me to a GeoScienceWorld advisory board meeting, where I participated in discussion on the alarming pace of changes in the world of scientific publishing. The collaboration of authors, editors, and publishers is evolving so rapidly it takes the breath away. Here at UNC our beloved geology library has been eliminated and removed to some dungeon across campus. No longer is it possible to see the face of SRL proudly displayed in the library entryway, inviting the curious to explore further. Rather, we now must embrace a new, fast-paced, constantly morphing world of instant exchange and constant update. SRL is poised to move in that direction. I hope SRL can maintain the youthful, forward-thinking outlook that is needed to address the scientific and societal issues outlined in SSA’s new mission statement. One of the privileges of running SRL is selecting the colorful illustrations that adorn the front and back covers. I encourage future authors to keep finding ways to present complex material in graphically exciting and imaginative ways. Interesting photographs with a touch of the human element are always a draw for me as editor-in-chief. I especially enjoyed choosing the cover with the seismograms from Germany’s Cologne Cathedral (Dombauarchiv Köln, volume 83, number 1, January/February 2012) and the close-up of an earthquake-damaged building bolt (Brian Sherrod, volume 83, number 3, May/June 2012) were among my favorites.

With the preference for digital communication, however, it is time to find new ways to attract readers. We continue to explore the possibility of apps with animation or other special upgrades to capture youthful eyes on our science. There is a lot of energy in our community for extending and applying our computational skills toward this end and I think it will be fruitful. Seismologists are experts in graphical representation, animation, and other imaginative ways for conveying scientific information. Let us work together to project our field to the wider community and get the next generation involved and excited.

It is difficult to make changes in the way we communicate when traditions are on the line. Many of my original plans when I started out as editor-in-chief will likely not be implemented. But the publishing landscape is moving so quickly these days, the new editor will surely find other ways to make an impact.

I thank all the referees who contributed to making this journal sound. Their high level of expertise, competence, and professionalism keeps SRL in the forefront.

I would like to thank the associate editors who helped me through the last three years: Erol Kalkan, Jennifer Haase, Eric Thompson, Susan Hough, John Ebel, Alan Kafka, and John Louie. I have benefited and appreciated the advice I received from SSA’s Joy Troyer and Susan Newman. I thank Martin Chapman for skillfully holding the reins of the Eastern Section of SRL. Finally, I could not have succeeded without the constant vigilance, wise counsel, and excellent support from Mary George, SRL’s managing editor. Hats off to such a great crew.

We are in good hands with the new SRL editor-in-chief, Zhigang Peng, and I wish him the best of luck. I hope and expect he will enjoy guiding every issue of SRL just as much as I did.   

Jonathan M. Lees jonathan [dot] lees [at] unc [dot] edu

To send a letter to the editor regarding this opinion or to write your own opinion, you may contact the SRL editor by sending e-mail to
<srled [at] seismosoc [dot] org>.



Posted: 30 August 2013