On this site you can learn more about the world’s longest running scientific journal, the Philosophical Transactions (London: the Royal Society). Its long history, starting in 1665, can tell us a great deal about the history of scholarly communication, and the economic, social and cultural history of a learned journal. It also reveals power hierarchies throughout the ages, behind-the-scenes stories of refereeing and peer review, and the institutional changes of scientific publication through the centuries. This website invites you to explore the history of the Philosophical Transactions through themes and case studies.

If you are curious about some of the terms, use our glossary. And if you want to know more about printing or editors, there are dedicated materials on that too. We have a blog with updated research and news too. The research was undertaken by a team of four cultural historians led by PI Dr Aileen Fyfe on the AHRC-funded project, ‘Publishing the Philosophical Transactions: The Economic, Social and Cultural History of a Learned Journal, 1665-2015‘. If you have any questions, leave a comment or get in touch @ahrcphiltrans.

History of Philosophical Transactions:  Find out more about the world’s longest-running journal, the Royal Society’s Philosophical Transactions. Read a quick summary of the over 350-year old history, or explore the case studies from each decade.

Read the Philosophical Transactions and its sister journal Proceedings of the Royal Society (founded 1831) in the newly redigitised editions published by the Royal Society in 2017. All content before 1939 is freely available, as is some of the more recent material. [These links will take you to an external website.]

Documents 1665-2017: Explore papers from the Royal Society archives, that we have used in our research. Short accompanying blog posts will tell you why they are important to the history of publishing at the Royal Society and elsewhere.

About our project: Meet the team, goals, methodologies and sources behind our work. Learn about our public engagement events, outputs, media presence, and how you can get involved.

Blog:  This is where we share new findings, thoughts and news. Stay up to date here!

The Philosophical Transactions through the ages