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Research at St Andrews

Aileen Fyfe


Aileen Fyfe, FHEA, FRHistS
Postal address:
School of History
Modern History
St Katharine's Lodge, The Scores
St Andrews
United Kingdom


Direct phone: +44 (0)1334 462996

Research overview

My research focuses upon the history of science and technology, particularly the communication of science, and the technologies which made that possible.

Most recently, I have been investigating the history of academic publishing from the seventeenth century to the present day; this includes the financial models underpinning scientific journals, as well as their editorial and reviewing processes. From 2013 to 2017, I led an AHRC-funded project on the world's oldest scientific journal, the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. This has enabled me to provide a historical perspective on contemporary debates about open access, peer review and the future of scholarly communications. I was lead-author of the 2017 briefing paper Untangling Academic Publishing: a history of the relationship between commercial interests, academic prestige and the circulation of research

Previous works include Steam-Powered Knowledge: William Chambers and the business of publishing, 1820-1860 (2012), which investigated the connections between technology and instructive publishing in the mid-19th-century; I wrote about railways, steamships and steam-powered printing machines in Britain and the USA. I also wrote Science and Salvation: evangelicals and popular science publishing in Victorian Britain (2004) and am co-editor of Science in the Marketplace: nineteenth-century sites and experiences (2007).

I am also working on a history of paperwork, statistics and publishing in Victorian Britain. And one day, I hope to return to my work on guidebooks, and the links between natural history and tourism.

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