Why Choose Earthquake Spectra? A Letter from Editor-in-Chief Jack Baker

Baker Jack 500On January 1st, I started my new role as Editor-in-Chief of Earthquake Spectra. I’d like to briefly share with you why I am excited for this role and what I see for the future of the journal.

I joined EERI shortly after becoming a graduate school in 2001 and submitted my first Earthquake Spectra paper as a student in 2005. Earthquake Spectra was my preferred venue to disseminate research to both an academic audience and leaders in practice. I joined the Spectra editorial board in 2013, where I got to learn more deeply about the operations of the journal, and became Editor in 2018.

I have been fortunate to learn in particular from recent Editors-in-Chief David Wald and Jon Stewart. They have been personal teachers and mentors, and have set the highest standards for the journal that I will do my best to uphold. Jon was tireless in working to clear a significant backlog of accepted papers, design processes to speed future publications, and raise the profile of the journal. David helped take the journal through a massive transition to a new publisher and paper handling system, re-designed the journal’s leadership model to manage the growing volume of paper submissions, and continued increasing the journal’s profile and impact. I will continue to benefit from their experience and counsel in the coming years.

There are several reasons why Earthquake Spectra is my preferred journal, and the one I am committing to in the coming years. First, papers published in Spectra are highly regarded and well-targeted are highly cited as an authoritative source.

Second, as the journal of a professional society, it publishes scholarly work with the stated purpose of “improving the practice of earthquake hazards mitigation, preparedness, and recovery.” That is, both scholarly innovation and practical impact are valued by the journal. Beyond traditional research papers, we also solicit and value Opinion Papers, Practice Papers, and Data Papers as mechanisms to disseminate ideas and resources. And our papers are freely available to all EERI members, so readers do not have to be members of an academic institution to get access, broadening our readership beyond that of many other journals in our field.

Next, we aim to be the most author-friendly journal in our field. It is free to publish regular-length papers in the journal if you are an EERI member, and we work hard draw attention to your published contribution. We highlight new papers in The Pulse newsletter, with a readership of 2500. We send Earthquake Spectra Highlights announcements, including an Editor’s Choice paper and synopses of selected other papers. We distribute OnlineFirst announcements shortly after accepted papers are available online. We identify papers with potential practical interest, and facilitate professional education webinars for the authors. We build Special Collections highlighting past and current papers on particular topics. And each year we give awards for an Outstanding Paper and a Graduate Student Paper. These efforts all aim to connect our readership with relevant papers, and to help our authors promote their work.

Finally, with our practices, we aim to be author-friendly and forward-looking. Our default publication option is free to authors and readers who are EERI members. Our costs for typesetting, publishing, promotional activities, and administration are supported primarily by institutional subscriptions, and supplemented by thousands of volunteer hours per year from editors and reviewers. We also permit the posting of your submitted manuscript to preprint servers, and permit the posting of the accepted version of your manuscript to your personal website. We also offer a Gold Open Access publication option for authors desiring free dissemination through the journal website.

Regarding reproducibility, we will continue to follow best practices. Our recently updated submission guidelines now make the default option to share research data in a public repository, with an explanation required if the data are not shared. With this updated policy, we are encouraging the dissemination of data for the benefit of readers, and are considering evidence that papers with publicly available data are more impactful and more highly cited.

Moving forward, I aim for Earthquake Spectra to continue growing its impact and reputation, and to serve our Institute as an author- and reader-friendly venue for disseminating ideas. Spectra needs your help to achieve these goals. First, we need your scholarship! Groundbreaking and impactful papers power this operation, so please send us your best work. I would be happy to discuss your ideas for papers, special collections, and general improvements to the journal. Second, we need your help reviewing manuscripts. Your fair and constructive feedback on submitted manuscripts is essential in helping authors improve their papers, and in ensuring that we publish only the highest quality work. And I know from years of experience that reviewing papers enhances my critical thinking skills and helps me become a more effective author. Please let us know via this form if you are interested in reviewing, and please take invitations to review as recognition of your expertise.

Together we can ensure that Earthquake Spectra continues its nearly 40-year tradition of serving the informational needs of the diverse professionals engaged in earthquake risk reduction. The journal is an essential part of EERI’s community, and I am grateful for your support as we continue to care for and advance its legacy.

Jack W. Baker
Editor-in-Chief, Earthquake Spectra