Aileen Fyfe, FRSE, FRHistS, FHEA


  • KY16 9AR

    United Kingdom

Accepting Postgraduate Research Students

PhD projects

I am interested in supervising students on topics in the history of science, technology and medicine since 1700. I'm especially interested in communication, popularisation, publishing and the historical-sociology of scientific communities and disciplines. Some of my current students work on the funding and evaluation of science, and on scientific information networks, but there is much more to be done (especially for the 20th century...) I am also interested in the history of women in academia (and in science), the history of universities and disciplines, and the history of knowledge.

Personal profile

Research overview

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.  


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.

Other expertise

I hold a postgraduate diploma in Academic Practice, and am a fellow of the Higher Education Academy and the Royal Historical Society.

I am a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh; and was previously a member of the RSE Young Academy of Scotland, serving as co-chair in 2013-14.

I have been involved in various projects to support women academics, including Academic Women Now (2016), Academic Women Here (2017), and Women Historians of St Andrews (2021-).

Profile Keywords

history of science and technology; scholarly communication; research evaluation; popular science; Britain; 17th-20th centuries

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, Industrialised conversion: the Religious Tract Society and popular science publishing, 1845-55, University of Cambridge

Award Date: 1 Dec 2000


  • AS Academies and learned societies (General)
  • Royal Society
  • D204 Modern History
  • science and technology
  • Victorian Britain
  • nineteenth century
  • History of publishing
  • Q Science (General)
  • research evaluation
  • peer review
  • research communication


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