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A History of Scientific Journals

Publishing at the Royal Society, 1665–2015

A comprehensive history of scientific publishing and its impact on scientific discourse.

Modern scientific research has changed significantly since the days of Isaac Newton, with professionalized, collaborative, and international networks that engage a more diverse community of researchers. Yet, the long history of scientific publishing reveals a deep mutual relationship between how academic discourse develops and what (and how) research is published. With unique insights from the Royal Society of London’s comprehensive archives spanning 350 years of scientific journal publishing, A History of Scientific Journals illustrates the entangled histories of scientific publishing and professional discourses. This volume provides insights into the editorial management, business practices, and financial difficulties of journals such as Philosophical Transactions, which was first published in 1665 and has published papers by Newton, Darwin, Dorothy Hodgkin, and Stephen Hawking.  Highly illustrated with photographs of historic archived documents, including early publications and editorial annotations, this history extends to the present day and includes a look at digital journal publication and the open-access movement, making the book's publication through UCL Press both appropriate and symbiotic.  

664 pages | 20 color plates, 20 halftones, 20 line drawings, and 18 tables | 6.14 x 9.21 | © 2022

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Table of Contents

List of figures

List of tables
List of abbreviations
Contributor roles
Introduction: Origins Myths

Part I Invention, 1665-1750

1 The first Philosophical Transactions, 1665-1677

2 Repeated Reinventions, 1677-1696

3 Stabilising the Transactions, 1696-1752

4 The Transactions and the wider world, c.1700-1750

Part II Maturity and Institutionalisation, 1750-1820

5 For the Use and Benefit of the Society, 1750-1770

6 Sociability and Gatekeeping, 1770-1800

7 Circulating Knowledge, c.1780-1820

Part III The Professionalization of Science, 1820-1890

8 Reforms, Referees and the Proceedings, 1820-1850

9 Editing the Journals, 1850s-1870s

10 Scientific Publishing as Patronage, c.1860-1890

Part IV The Growth of Science, 1890-1950

11 The Rise of the Proceedings, 1890-1920s

12 Keeping the Publications Afloat, 1895-1930

13 Why do we Publish? 1932-1950

Part V The Business of Publishing, 1950-2015

14 Selling the Journals in the 1950s and 1960s

15 Survival in a Shrinking, Competitive Market, c.1970-1990

16 Money and Mission in the Digital Age, 1990-2015

Reflections: Learning from 350 years


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