Article ID: CBB733929298

Managing the Growth of Peer Review at the Royal Society Journals, 1865-1965 (2020)


This article examines the evolution of peer review and the modern editorial processes of scholarly journals by analyzing a novel data set derived from the Royal Society’s archives and covering 1865-1965, that is, the historical period in which refereeing (not yet known as peer review) became firmly established. Our analysis reveals how the Royal Society’s editorial processes coped with both an increasing reliance on refereeing and a growth in submissions, while maintaining collective responsibility and minimizing research waste. By engaging more of its fellows in editorial activity, the society was able to establish an equilibrium of number of submissions per reviewer that was relatively stable over time. Nevertheless, our analysis shows that the distribution of editorial work was significantly uneven. Our findings reveal interesting parallels with current concerns about the scale and distribution of peer review work and suggest the strategic importance of the management of the editorial process to achieve a creative mix of community commitment and professional responsibility that is essential in contemporary journals.

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Authors & Contributors
Baldwin, Melinda Clare
Areni, Alessandra
Birch, Kean
Collins, Peter
Connor, J. T. H.
Dal Secco, Alessandra
Isis: International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
Notes and Records: The Royal Society Journal of the History of Science
Scientia Canadensis: Journal of the History of Canadian Science, Technology, and Medicine
Centaurus: International Magazine of the History of Mathematics, Science, and Technology
Configurations: A Journal of Literature, Science, and Technology
Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences
Académie Royale de Belgique
Cambridge University Press
Scholarly journals
Peer review
Science and society
Scholarly publishing
Publishers and publishing
Editors and editing
Brunet, Jean-Pierre
Cowley, Abraham
Metzger, Hélène
Mieli, Aldo
Robertson, Howard Percy
Sprat, Thomas
Time Periods
20th century
19th century
21st century
20th century, early
17th century
20th century, late
Great Britain
Ontario (Canada)
Royal Society
Centre International de Synthèse
History of Science Society
International Academy of the History of Science
Jesuits (Society of Jesus)
Royal Geographical Society

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