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The Scientific JournalAuthorship and the Politics of Knowledge in the Nineteenth Century$
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Alex Csiszar

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226553238

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226553375.001.0001

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The Author and the Referee

The Author and the Referee

(p.119) 3 The Author and the Referee
The Scientific Journal

Alex Csiszar

University of Chicago Press

In the late 1820s, British scientific practitioners joined political crusaders calling for the reform of institutions of governance. Among other things, scientific reformers wanted means of identifying true scientific practitioners in the hopes that delimiting a core of professionals would prompt the state to take greater interest in natural philosophy. This chapter follows the rising fortunes of two key identities in the emergence of the scientific expert: the author and the referee. In Britain, periodical authorship was an ambiguous professional identity, but the idea that certain kinds of specialized authorship could be a privileged marker of scientific activity was gaining ground. Concurrently, several learned societies were experimenting with new systems of judgment for their publications. The system initiated by the Royal Society of London was inspired by the Paris Academy of Sciences which used a system of public reports to judge manuscripts and inventions. But transporting this system across the Channel led to its transformation into a system based instead on the anonymous reports of individuals. The persona of the referee that emerged by mid-century was an amalgam of various identities including the legal expert, the trustworthy gentleman, the state bureaucrat, and the anonymous book reviewer.

Keywords:   anonymity, authorship, book reviewing, Britain, expertise, peer review, referee systems, Royal Society of London, scientific authorship, William Whewell

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