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Prof Aileen Fyfe

Prof Aileen Fyfe

Professor of Modern History

Director of Research

Researcher profile

+44 (0)1334 462996
Room 1.12
St Katharine's Lodge
Office hours
Thursday 2pm to 3pm (MO3334)



I was born in Glasgow, trained in Cambridge, worked in Galway and moved to St Andrews in 2011.

Research areas

My research focuses upon the history of science and technology, particularly the communication of science, and the technologies which made that possible. I am currently investigating the history of academic publishing from the seventeenth century to the present day; this includes the financial models underpinning scientific journals, as well as their editorial and reviewing processes.

From 2013 to 2017, I led an AHRC-funded project on the world's oldest scientific journal, the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. This has enabled me to provide a historical perspective on contemporary debates about open access, peer review and the future of scholarly communications. I was lead-author of the 2017 briefing paper Untangling Academic Publishing: a history of the relationship between commercial interests, academic prestige and the circulation of research

My prize-winning book Steam-Powered Knowledge: William Chambers and the business of publishing, 1820-1860 (2012) investigated the connections between technology and instructive publishing in the mid-19th-century; I wrote about railways, steamships and steam-powered printing machines in Britain and the USA.

I am also working on a history of paperwork, statistics and publishing in Victorian Britain. And one day, I hope to return to my work on guidebooks, and the links between natural history and tourism.

PhD supervision

  • James Inglis
  • Elena Romero-Passerin D'Entreves

Selected publications


See more publications