In other words, how old is the practice of submitting mathematical work for peer review to specialized magazines? When/where it started to become the norm?

My question is oriented toward the evolution of specialized publications in mathematics, until they reached the status of becoming the de-facto certificate of quality (also known as the publish or perish mandate).

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Does this answer your question? How did the publication feat of Einstein's four 1905 Annus Mirabilis papers get through peer review? $\endgroup$
    – Conifold
    Apr 5, 2020 at 2:34
  • $\begingroup$ @Conifold Thanks for the link. It partially answers my question. However, I'm more interested in learning about the evolution of specialized publications in mathematics, until they reached the status of becoming the de-facto certificate of quality. $\endgroup$ Apr 5, 2020 at 10:40
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    $\begingroup$ History is always complicated: in the 16-7th.c. it became clear that it is better to publish a discovery instead of hiding it, see e.g Cardano- Tartaglia or Newton -Leibniz disputes. Peer reviewing as we know it is a fairly recent procedure, that was established when commercial publishers began publishing academic journals. (a good article on the topic is en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scholarly_peer_review ) $\endgroup$
    – sand1
    Apr 5, 2020 at 12:05
  • $\begingroup$ @sand1 Many thanks for the comment and link. $\endgroup$ Apr 5, 2020 at 13:52

1 Answer 1


The earliest journals were multidisciplinary, they were published by academies since the second half of 17th century. Before that time, communication was only by books and letters. Letters sometimes were copied and circulated. The first French, English and German journals were:

Journal des sçavans, 1665 (published papers in all sciences and humanities)

Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society, 1665 (all natural sciences and mathematics)

Acta eruditorum, 1682 (Started by Leibniz, published in physics and mathematics).

A curious example of multidisciplinary journal of 18th century was Ladies' Diary started in 1704, where many mathematical papers were published, for example the seminal papers of Landen on "Landen's transform".

Specialized mathematical journals appear in early 19 century. The oldest specialized mathematical journal which still continues is the Journal fur die reine und angewandte Mathematik (a. k. a. Crelle's journal), started in 1826. A French analog (with identical title) Journal de Mathematiques pures et appliquee (Liouville's journal) started in 1836.

  • $\begingroup$ A footnote: the spelling in "Journal des sçavans" really is correct! :) I was wondering about it, and wiki-googled it, and, yes, that was the original. Next, "savans", and, eventually, "savants". :) $\endgroup$ Apr 30, 2021 at 17:53

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