Document Type

Article

Rights

This item is available under a Creative Commons License for non-commercial use only

Disciplines

5.8 MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS

Publication Details

Science, Technology & Human Values

Abstract

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.

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1177/0162243919862868

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