Reference numberNLB/12/160
Alternative reference numberNLB/12 p77-79
TitleCopy letter from Michael Foster, to Dr Frederick William Pavy, [Fellow of the Royal Society]
Date[19] December 1895
DescriptionFoster acknowledges receipt of Pavy's book 'The Physiology of the Carbohydrates: an Epicriticism', and having read the preface, he feels free to state his personal opinion which could not be communciated in official correspondence.

Foster has the permission of the President of the Royal Society to state that since they received his first letter, they have received legal advice which confirms Pavy's contention that, in taking steps with regard to the publication of Dr Paton's paper before it was read, they were acting in contravention of the Statutes. They acted in a manner intended to shorten the delays affecting the Committee of Papers in their first meeting after the recess, and thus took from Foster and the other offiicers responsibility. The President and Counil had the power to question the choice of referees, but they did not do so.

Foster accepts that Pavy meant 'unbiased' when he used the phrase 'contrary to what is considered ethically becoming', and accepts the 'grave' responsibilities attached to his post as Senior Secretary and the injury to science resulting from biased actions. However, he emphasises that this was not consciously done, except where he urged against criticism made to the Society regarding their publication of papers where they had been led to adopt procedure which contravened Statutes, but decided to amend the Statutes to remove undesirable limitations.

With this exception, Foster states that the other actions taken in regard to Paton's paper did conform to the Statutes, as the President and Council sitting as the Committee of Papers authorised the Officers to 'refer' papers during the recess, and it was under this authority that Paton's paper was referred to Fellows who were knowledgable in the branch of science to which the paper belongs. As the reports were favourable, the paper was, under such authority, ordered for publication, and was then reported to the committee.

With reference to the last paragraph of the preface, Foster hopes Pavy would not have published had he known that the refereeship is strictly confidential, and this prevents Foster from making any answer. As the preface is a public matter, he will send a copy of this letter to the medical papers, and asks that they now cease their correspondence on the matter.
Physical descriptionTypescript
Access statusOpen
Fellows associated with this archive
NA6055Pavy; Frederick William (1829 - 1911)1829 - 1911
NA8220Foster; Sir; Michael (1836 - 1907); physiologist1836 - 1907
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