What was the first academic journal?

Well, like most things in academia, the question of which academic journal came first is contested.

Usually, it’s seen as being between Journal des sçavans, which was based in Parisand Philosophical Transactions, produced by the Royal Society of London.

It is not contested that Journal des sçavans was the first of these to be published. The first issue was published on January 5th 1665 whereas the first issue of Philosophical Transactions was published 60 day later.

However, the issue seems to be whether historians consider Journal des sçavans to be a “true” academic journal, with some believing that it didn’t contain enough original science to count.

Either way, the history of scholarly communications is fascinating and I look forward to digging into it some more to see what it can tell us about the future of academic publishing.


History of Philosophical Transactions. (n.d.). Retrieved June 27, 2019, from The Secret History of the Scientific Journal website: https://arts.st-andrews.ac.uk/philosophicaltransactions/brief-history-of-phil-trans/

McClellan, J. E. (2005). Scientific Journals. In A. C. Kors (Ed.), Encyclopedia of the Enlightenment (online). Retrieved from https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/acref/9780195104301.001.0001/acref-9780195104301-e-652 (subscription-based resource)

The Royal Society. (2019). History of Philosophical Transactions. Retrieved June 27, 2019, from The Royal Society website: https://royalsociety.org/journals/publishing-activities/publishing350/history-philosophical-transactions/

Spinak, E., & Packer, A. L. (2015). 350 years of scientific publication: from the “Journal des Sçavans” and Philosophical Transactions to SciELO. Retrieved June 27, 2019, from SciELO in Perspective website: https://blog.scielo.org/en/2015/03/05/350-years-of-scientific-publication-from-the-journal-des-scavans-and-philosophical-transactions-to-scielo/#.XRSE8uhKiUm

Swoger, B. (2012). The (mostly true) origins of the scientific journal. Retrieved June 27, 2019, from Scientific American Blog Network website: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/information-culture/the-mostly-true-origins-of-the-scientific-journal/

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