27 de julio de 2016

Learned Societies and the Circulation of Knowledge, c.1750-2000

Call for Expressions of Interest: Learned societies and the circulation of knowledge, 1750-2000
From Aileen Fyfe and Jenny Beckman
*Please cross-post and circulate*

Are you interested in the history of the publications of a learned society or national academy – or do you know someone who is? We are planning to seek funding for a research network to compare the roles of different learned societies and national academies in the circulation of knowledge. From our own work on Britain and Sweden, we know that societies and academies have long been key players in the publication and circulation of research (especially in journals); and that these institutions typically organised their publishing operations in a manner quite different from that of the regular publishing trade. Societies and academies were motivated by a variety of non-financial goals, such as institutional reputation, national glory and the allegedly disinterested advancement of scholarship; and they used distribution methods that were quite distinct from those of the regular trade, such as gift programmes and institutional exchanges. In these days of debates about Open Access, and the growing desire to create a sustainable, non-profit-driven model for academic publishing, it seems appropriate to take a closer look at the ways in which learned societies and academies managed this in the past.

We seek collaborators with knowledge of the publishing programmes of other scholarly institutions, in Europe or elsewhere; and we are particularly interested in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (say, 1750 onwards). Our hope is to acquire funding for a couple of research workshops in 2017 and 2018, where we can compare the experiences of different countries and institutions, and consider changes over time. We are not (currently) intending to seek major funding to support new research, so we are looking for people who already know something about learned societies and their publications.

Issues we would like to investigate include:
• How was the production managed? (Did the academy have a printing press in the basement? Or did it contract with a local bookseller? Did it have special printing privileges?)
• What type of publication(s) did the institution produce (format, periodicity), carrying what type of content (preliminary results, lengthy papers, letters, news, reviews)?
• How was the editorial process managed? (By a sole editor or a committee? Seeking referees’ opinions in person, or in writing, or not at all? Did fellows/members of the institution have special access to the journal?)
• How were the publications circulated, in what numbers, and to where? (Through the book trade? Free to fellows/members? Donated to educational institutions? Exchanged with libraries of other academies? Locally, nationally or internationally?)
• How was the publishing programme supported financially? (By members’ fees or the institutional endowment? By government grants or industrial donors? By sales?)
• Were there other ways in which the societies and academies promoted the circulation of knowledge? (e.g. by facilitating correspondence between scholars, thanks to state-granted postal privileges? Or by negotiating exemptions from customs import duties on international scientific journals and correspondence?)

If you are potentially interested in being involved in this project, please get in touch with us before August 31. You are very welcome to forward or cross-post this message, or to suggest people we should contact.

We also hope to include representatives of contemporary society/academy publishing programmes, so suggestions of suitable individuals (and an indication of why their perspective would be valuable) would also be appreciated.

Dr Aileen Fyfe (St Andrews), akf@st-andrews.ac.uk

Dr Jenny Beckman (Uppsala), Jenny.Beckman@idehist.uu.se