Everything is in the title but just to expand on the question, I am wondering if there was any publication process similar to the peer-review process in the past (and when). If not, does it mean that anybody could widely release its results without any control?
Wikipedia has a nice page about the peer-review process, which includes a section on its history:
The first recorded editorial pre-publication peer-review process was at the Royal Society of London in 1665 by the founding editor of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Henry Oldenburg. In the 20th century, peer review became common for science funding allocations. This process appears to have developed independently from that of editorial peer review.
The first peer-reviewed publication might have been the Medical Essays and Observations published by the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1731. The present-day peer-review system evolved from this 18th-century process.
A prototype professional peer-review process is recommended in the Ethics of the Physician written by Ishāq ibn ʻAlī al-Ruhāwī (854–931). His work states that a visiting physician must make duplicate notes of a patient's condition on every visit. When the patient was cured or had died, the notes of the physician were examined by a local medical council of other physicians, who would decide whether the treatment had met the required standards of medical care.
Peer review has long been a touchstone of the scientific method, but it had only been performed by editors in chief or editorial committees until the end of the 19th century.
The Wikipedia also points to some very interesting, thorough resources:
- Spier, R. (2002). "The history of the peer review process". TRENDS in Biotechnology 20 (8): 357–358. doi:10.1016/S0167-7799(02)01985-6. PMID 12127284.
- Gould, T.P.H. (2012). Do We Still Need Peer Review?. The Scarecrow Press.
- Biagioli, M. (2002). "From book censorship to academic peer review". Emergences 12 (1): 11–45. doi:10.1080/1045722022000003435.
- Rip, A. (1985). "Commentary: Peer Review is Alive and Well in the United States". Science, Technology, and Human Values 10 (3): 82–86. doi:10.1177/016224398501000310.
According to the article Peer Review in 18th-Century Scientific Journalism (Kronick, 1990), state that peer-review had its antecedents in the 17th century, and that
the beginnings of "peer review" are frequently associated with the Royal Society of London when it took over official responsibility for the Philosophical Transactions in 1752
However, according to the article The ups and downs of peer review (Benos et al. 2007) suggests that the scientific peer review system had its basis in Edinburgh in the early 18th century, from the article:
It was not until 1731 that the Royal Society of Edinburgh published Medical Essays and Observations, the first peer-reviewed collection of medical articles
Where the editor of the journal
distributed the submitted essays for review to individuals he considered to be “most versed in these matters
There was a disclaimer even then that the peer-reviewed articles did necessarily mean that the content of the article was truthful or accurate and stated that
As always, the submitting authors were ultimately responsible for the quality and veracity of their own research
However, an important point made by both authors is that there has been many cases of editors exercising different policies and methods of ensuring the veracity of scientific articles, with Benos et al. stating:
The development of peer review was gradual and somewhat haphazard. Different editors employed varying styles of peer review.