Publishing and editing
in Medical societies and scientific culture in nineteenth-century Belgium
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This chapter discusses medical societies’ efforts to publish scientific journals. It discusses authors’ motivations for submitting articles, reviewers’ responses and ways of criticizing, editors’ decisions to reach new audiences, and publishers’ role in the financing and spreading of these journals. The chapter starts by tracing the origins of societies’ journals, placing their emergence against the cultural backdrop of a growing uneasiness with the practice of contrefaçon or reprinting (without authors’ permission). Central to societies’ unique position in the medical press was the reviewing of studies. This allowed medical societies to differentiate their journals from others by publishing original work. In the second half of the century, scientific publishing became more exclusive. Private practitioners succeeded less and less frequently in making it through the review process. The simultaneous appearance of new specialized medical journals meant that the ‘general’ journals published by medical societies became trapped in-between a specialized and an (equally emerging) popular medical press. By the end of the century, medical societies’ role as publishing houses seemed indeed played out.

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