Our project has gathered a variety of data on the production and editorial aspects of the Royal Society’s publications. It is gradually being made available on this site, as downloadable DSV datasets and as a series of graphs with explanatory commentaries. The simplest way to see what we have released so far is to browse our slowly-growing collection of graphs and read the commentaries.
The historical record is patchy, and our data reflect this. We generally have better data for the 19th and 20th centuries than we do for earlier periods. The following paragraphs outline what we have. It is not yet all available here, but you are welcome to contact us if you have a research interest that our data might help with.
Bibliometric data: we have data on the number of articles, pages and volumes published by the Society since 1665. This was provided to us in electronic form by the Royal Society, and we have analysed it in various ways (e.g. to look at how the average article length has changed over time).
Production cost data: we have data on the costs of paper, typesetting, printing, binding and illustrations of the Royal Society journals. This is most complete for the period 1828-1877. For other periods, we generally have only got the total production cost per year (no breakdown). We have analysed these figures in relation to the amount of printed output per year to create a standardised measure of the cost of producing a scientific journal over time.
Circulation data: we have some data on circulation figures and sales income. Sales income data is relatively complete for the twentieth century, but prior to that, the Royal Society’s circulation did not depend on sales. We have patchy information on distribution figures for earlier periods. Our data on the retail price of volumes (or annual subscription rates) is very patchy.
Financial data: we have income/expenditure figures for Royal Society publishing from 1752 onwards, which allow us to analyse the notional surplus/deficit of the publication activities.
The ‘vital statistics’ of the Royal Society: we have data on the number of fellows of the Society over time; and the Society’s institutional income/expenditure account.
Authorship data: we have data on the number of papers submitted to the Royal Society (from the 1850s onwards). This includes information about how many people submitted, what proportion were fellows or outsiders, how many were women, and how common co-authorship was. This data comes in annual samples every five years, and we are still processing it.
Editorial data: we have data on the proportion of papers that were sent to referees, the number of people involved as referees, and the time-taken by the refereeing and editorial decision-making process. We have data on the final publication outcomes of submitted articles. This data comes in annual samples every five years, and we are still processing it.
- More submissions, more rejections: the Royal Society Journals since the 1950s
- Rejection rates in life sciences vs physical sciences, 1950s-1980s
- Submissions in life sciences vs physical sciences, 1927-1989
- The unprofitability of scientific journals, 1750-1900
- What history tells us about diversity in the peer review process