To coincide with the imminent 350th anniversary of Philosophical Transactions, the world’s oldest scientific journal, The Royal Society and the AHRC research project “Publishing the Philosophical Transactions” are organising a conference, to be held at the Royal Society in March 2015, on the history of science journal publishing.  Phil.Trans. has a long association with the early history of photography.  

Publish or Perish? Scientific periodicals from 1665 to the present


19-21 March 2015

The Royal Society, London



To celebrate the anniversary of the Philosophical Transactions, the world’s oldest scientific journal, the Royal Society will be hosting a major conference in spring 2015. At a time when the future of scientific publishing is in flux, this conference will take the long perspective by examining the transformations and challenges in the publishing of scientific journals over the last three and a half centuries, and into the future. We seek offers of papers, or proposals for three- or four-paper panels, which engage with any aspect of the commercial, editorial and distribution practices  of scientific journal publishing, in any period since 1665, preferably with a comparative or longue durée perspective.


Papers or panels might address:

  • The processes of printing, publishing or illustrating scientific journals
  • The commercial practices of journal publishing
  • The development of editorial and refereeing processes
  • Distribution networks and marketing – regional, national and international
  • Issues concerning the status, reputation and reception of competing journals

Offers of papers, including a 250-word abstract, should be sent to by the 30th of November 2013.


Participants must be willing and able to prepare their paper for speedy publication in autumn 2015.


Philosophical Transactions at 350


The Philosophical Transactions turns 350 on March the 6th, 2015. To celebrate this milestone in the history of science communication, a programme of events and activities is being planned for the Anniversary year. In addition, a major AHRC-funded research project, led by Dr Aileen Fyfe at the University of St Andrews in partnership with the Royal Society, is already under way, which will produce the first full history of the Philosophical Transactions.


Dr Noah Moxham

School of History, University of St Andrews

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

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