Prof Aileen Fyfe

Prof Aileen Fyfe

Professor of Modern History

Researcher profile

+44 (0)1334 46 2996
St Katharine's Lodge
Office hours
MO3331 Tuesday 3.30pm to 4.30pm. On Research Leave (Semester 2).



I was born in Glasgow. I studied Natural Sciences at Cambridge, and was awarded MA, MPhil and PhD degrees in the History & Philosophy of Science. I lectured in the Department of History at National University of Ireland, Galway for ten years; and then moved to the School of History at St Andrews in 2011. I was promoted to Professor in 2017.

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 have recently been 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. My book A History of Scientific Journals: publishing at the Royal Society, 1665-2015 (2022, OA) was the result of AHRC-funded research on the world's oldest scientific journal, the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. The expertise gained from that project allows me to offer a historical perspective on contemporary debates about open access, peer review and the future of scholarly communications. Our briefing paper Untangling Academic Publishing: a history of the relationship between commercial interests, academic prestige and the circulation of research (2017) offers a short, non-technical introduction to the key themes.

I am currently using a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship to work on a history of information, statistics, and publishing in Victorian Britain. Previous works include Steam-Powered Knowledge: William Chambers and the business of publishing, 1820-1860 (2012), which 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 also wrote Science and Salvation: evangelicals and popular science publishing in Victorian Britain (2004) and am co-editor of Science in the Marketplace: nineteenth-century sites and experiences (2007).

I co-direct several projects examining the history of the University of St Andrews: one focuses on the experiences of women in the department(s) of History at St Andrews over the course of the 20th century; another is investigating the links between the University of St Andrews and British colonial and imperial activities in the 18th and 19th centuries.  

PhD supervision

  • Manon Williams
  • Greg Morgan
  • Danielle Farrier
  • Kathryn Bruce

Selected publications


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