The history of Science

Shows you how to use the Publish or Perish software for historical research on a specific journal

Ever wondered what articles looked like in the early days of academic publishing? You can use the Publish or Perish software to find out! Here I use PubMed as a data source. Although it does not report citations, it has an excellent coverage of the back catalogue of many bio-medical journals, which can be used to unearth historical records. Not quite bibliometric research, but definitely historical research facilitated by bibliometrics data.

Science in 1940 and even 1880!

PubMed found the 919 articles published in Science - now one of the most prestigious academic journals - in 1940 within 10 seconds. The results provide a fascinating insight into the impact of the second world war on scientific research, from spatial and perceptual disorientation when landing airplanes to bombs on the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew.

PubMed even allows us to go back to 1880, the first year of publication of Science, for which it reports 312 articles within seconds. Unfortunately, it doesn’t (yet) provide abstracts for these older articles. Moreover, its website returns a "404 not found" page for nearly all of the articles. However, the searches still provide us with intriguing insights into the history of Science (in both meanings of the word).

A bit of Summer work

The first issue of Science featured the article “A Bit of Summer Work” (see below) with reflections on what teachers should do during the Summer holidays. I found it absolutely fascinating for three reasons. First, the reference to teachers rather than academics / researchers shows Science didn’t just cater for researchers.

Second, the suggestion that at least a fortnight should elapse before any intellectual labour is undertaken, with an equal period of repose recommended just before the renewal of teaching sounds positively luxurious in today’s pressured times. That is until we discover that that still leaves another two months of Summer leave.

Third, the suggestion to spend much of that time on dissecting brains might sound a bit gruesome to many, but I guess it makes perfect sense for medical researchers. However, I couldn’t help wondering what the author meant by focusing on cat brains because they are “always and everywhere obtainable”.

Publish or Perish is a Swiss army knife!

These are just a few of the hundreds of nuggets of quality information that you can find using the free Publish or Perish software. Are you interested in finding out more about how you can use the software to conduct effective author, journal, topic, and affiliation searches?

Do you want to learn how to use it for tenure or promotion applications, conducting literature reviews and meta-analyses, deciding where to submit your paper, preparing for job interviews, writing laudations or obituaries, finding reviewers or keynote speakers, uncovering “citation connections” between scholars, and doing bibliometric research?

To read about all of this and much much more, buy my brand-new guide in my Crafting your career in academia series: Using the Publish or Perish software. At 375 pages it is chock-full of tips and tricks on how to get the most out of the software. I promise you will discover at least a dozen use cases that you had never even thought about before!

Other books in the series

My book series Crafting your career in academia launched in August 2022 with a book on Writing Effective Promotion Applications. The series is a collection of short guides dealing with various aspects of working in academia. It is based on my popular blog.

Aug 2022:

Nov 2022:

Feb 2023:

May 2023: