Women and the History of Peer Review at the Royal Society

Camilla Mork Rostvik

Research output: Non-textual formWebsite, Blog, Social Media


There had been a steady, small trickle of female authors since the 1890s. They would often publish with husbands or colleagues, but there was also a noticeable group of solo female authors, often tied to the early women’s right movement.

Until 1990 (there was a brief experiment in 1974), authors needed to go through a fellow in order to have their paper officially communicated, reviewed and published at the Society. The official role of a communicator was thus held only by men for most of the Society’s history. By the 1960s crystallographer Kathleen Lonsdale and biochemist Dorothy Hodgkin were the most active female referees and occasional communicators of papers at the Society, having been elected to the Fellowship in 1945 and 1947 respectively, and having since been joined by almost 200 other women.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherThe Royal Society
Media of outputOnline
Publication statusPublished - 21 Sept 2016

Bibliographical note

Dr Camilla Mørk Røstvik is currently a Research Fellow on the AHRC project ‘Publishing the Philosophical Transactions – the economic, social and cultural history of a learned journal, 1665–2016‘ with the University of St Andrews. This blog post draws on materials from the Royal Society’s archives, and is currently being expanded into a longer paper.


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