Record

Reference numberRR
LevelSeries
TitleReferees' reports on scientific papers submitted to the Royal Society for publication
Date1831-
DescriptionReports on scientific papers submitted for publication to the Royal Society from 1832 to date, making this a record of the origins of peer review publishing in practice. The referees were appointed to advise the Committee of Papers, and were drawn from appropriate subject disciplines within the Fellowship.

Referees' reports vary in content between terse notes recommending acceptance or rejection to long monographs devoted to the subject under review. There are occasional responses from authors to referee's reports contained in the series. Formal printed sheets first appeared in 1898 and continue to the present day.

Much of the reports' interest derives from the comment of one scientist on the work of another, for example Faraday on Joule (RR/3/154,158) or Lodge on Rutherford (RR/13/106).

Early reports are bound into volumes for the period 1832-1902, and one box of additional papers for 1838-1848. Then the series continues as boxes of loose papers to present date.
LanguageEnglish
Extent32 bound volumes and 186 [85] boxes.

There are 6,094 Reports for 1832-1917, after which the papers are unsorted.
Physical descriptionReports to 1909 are in bound volumes, thereafter kept annually in boxes. Early reports are bound into volumes for the period 1832-1902, and one box of additional papers for 1838-1848. Then the series continues as boxes of loose papers to present date.
ArrangementChronologically by year. From 1932 reports on withdrawn papers began to be kept as separate annual bundles.
Finding aidsCatalogued on cards in the General Card Catalogue under author's names. No list exists of reports on withdrawn papers
Access statuspartially closed
Access conditionsSensitive content. 50 year closure period applies from date of report.
Administrative historyThe system of peer review assessment began in December 1831, and became the norm for most papers, although the reports were not necessarily presented in person. The Statutes of the Royal Society for 1831 describe the process by which papers were judged (see especially Statute XIII); those failing to gain a majority vote on two meetings of the Committee were rejected, but the Committee could call upon any Fellow to assist the process of deliberation before the second meeting. From 1900 the report lists the Sectional Committee to which the paper was sent to be assigned to an appropriate referee. Each of the Sectional Committees represents different scientific disciplines. Formal printed sheets for the reports first appeared in 1898 and continue to the present day
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Referees' reports on scientific papers submitted to the Royal Society for publication

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    Browse the records of some of our collections, which cover all branches of science and date from the 12th century onwards. These include the published works of Fellows of the Royal Society, personal papers of eminent scientists, letters and manuscripts sent to the Society or presented at meetings, and administrative records documenting the Society's activities since our foundation in 1660.

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