Anna Gielas


Supervisor: Professor Aileen Fyfe
Co-supervisor: Prof Frank James (Royal Institution of Great Britain)

Thesis:  The Genesis and Consolidation of commercial scientific journals in the German lands and Britain, 1770-1840


I investigate the editorship of scientific periodicals in Britain and Germany, 1770s - 1830s.

Scientific editorship is usually said to have started in the late seventeenth century, with periodicals such as the Philosophical Transactions, closely associated with the new scientific societies like the Royal Society of London. But in the second half of the eighteenth century a new wave of scientific journals transformed the communication of scientific observations and, more generally, the production of scientific knowledge. Unlike the older periodicals, the new journals were far more closely associated with individual editors. They were launched by figures as various as university professors, journalists, clergymen, publishers and gentlemanly scholars.

I apply individual case studies (Lorenz Crell, J.E.I. Walch, William Nicholson, Alexander Tilloch, etc.) as well as prosopographical analysis to investigate how individuals came to create and occupy the role of scientific editor; what this role actually involved (on a day-to-day basis); and, more generally, how the role became an influential element in the production of knowledge.

My doctoral research mirrors my wish to grasp how the rules that govern science and academia today have evolved over time and how scientific practitioners have defined and defended their place among their peers and within society.

My doctoral research is fully funded by a joint grant from the Royal Institution of Great Britain and the University of St Andrews. My research travels have been generously supported by, for example, the German Historical Institute in London, the Royal Historical Society, the Economic History Society, the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry, the German History Society, and the Bibliographical Society. I also received one of two annually awarded Theodora Bosanquet Bursaries. Furthermore, I am one of two recipients of the Oxford DNB research bursaries for 2016-17.

The last months of 2016, I spent as a postgraduate fellow at the Interdisziplinäres Zentrum für die Erforschung der Europäischen Aufklärung (IZEA), thanks to the Stipendium für Aufklärungsforschung (IZEA Grant). During the Lent term of 2017, I will attend the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge.  

I received one of the 2017 Curran Fellowships awarded by the Research Society for Victorian Periodicals. Furthermore, I was able to secure a PhD student research grant from the Staatsbibliothek zu Bibliothek, Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz and a 2017 Major Grant from the Bibliographical Society. 


Annals of Science

Review of Melinda Baldwin’s Making Nature: The History of a Scientific Journal

Forum. University of Edinburgh Postgraduate Journal of Culture & the Arts
‘“I do have a chemical magazine in the making”: The editorial beginnings of the first chemical journal and its role in the production of chemical knowledge, 1778-1800.’