Philosophical Transactions Of The Royal Society

The Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society is a scientific journal published by the Royal Society of London. Established in 1665, it is the first journal in the world exclusively devoted to science. It has remained in continuous publication since its inception, making it the world’s longest-running scientific journal. The use of the word “philosophical” in the title derives from the phrase “natural philosophy,” which was the equivalent of what is now generically called “science.”

The first issue, 6 March 1665, was edited and published by the society’s first secretary, Henry Oldenburg, only six years after the Royal Society was founded. He published the journal at his own expense and had an agreement with the Royal Society that he kept any profits. He was to be disappointed, however, as the journal performed poorly during Oldenburg’s lifetime.

But as scientific discoveries and breakthroughs were published through the years the journal grew increasingly popular. And over the centuries, numerous important scientific discoveries have been published in Philosophical Transactions. Famous contributing authors include Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin. In 1672, the journal published Newton’s first paper New Theory about Light and Colors, which can be seen as the beginning of his public scientific career.

In 1887 the journal expanded and divided into two separate publications: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Physical, Mathematical and Engineering Sciences, and Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.

Both journals publish themed issues and issues resulting from papers presented at the Discussion Meetings of the Royal Society. Primary research articles are published in the sister journals Proceedings of the Royal Society, Biology Letters, Journal of the Royal Society Interface, and Interface Focus.

Image caption: Title page of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Vol. I. Credit: Wikipedia

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