Making public ahead of print: Meetings and publications at the Royal Society, 1752–1892

Fyfe, Aileen and Moxham, Noah (2016) Making public ahead of print: Meetings and publications at the Royal Society, 1752–1892. Notes and Records: the Royal Society journal of the history of science, 70 (4). pp. 361-379. ISSN 0035-9149. (doi: (Full text available)


This essay examines the interplay between the meetings and publications of learned scientific societies during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when journals were an established but not yet dominant form of scholarly communication. The ‘making public’ of research at meetings, long before actual ‘publication’ in society periodicals, enabled a complex of more or less formal sites of communication and discussion ahead of print. Using two case studies from the Royal Society of London—Jan Ingen-Housz in 1782 and John Tyndall in 1857 to 1858—we reveal how different individuals navigated and exploited the power structures, social activities and seasonal rhythms of learned societies, all necessary precursors to gaining admission to the editorial processes of society journals, and trace the shifting significance of meetings in the increasingly competitive and diverse realm of Victorian scientific publishing. We conclude by reflecting on the implications of these historical perspectives for current discussions of the ‘ends’ of the scientific journal.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled keywords: Science; publication; communication; orality; sociability; pre-print
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of History
Faculties > Humanities > School of History > Centre for the History of the Sciences
Depositing User: N.J. Moxham
Date Deposited: 16 Nov 2017 11:40 UTC
Last Modified: 07 Dec 2017 11:32 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Moxham, Noah:
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