Royal Society Publishing

Royal Society journal archive permanently free to access

The Royal Society continues to support scientific discovery by allowing free access to more than 250 years of leading research.

From October 2011, our world-famous journal archive - comprising more than 69,000 articles - will be opened up and all articles more than 70 years old will be made permanently free to access.


The Royal Society is the world's oldest scientific publisher and, as such, our archive is the most comprehensive in science. Treasures in the archive include Isaac Newton's first published scientific paper, geological work by a young Charles Darwin, and Benjamin Franklin's celebrated account of his electrical kite experiment. Readers willing to delve a little deeper may find some undiscovered gems from the dawn of the scientific revolution - including Robert Boyle's account of monstrous calves, grisly tales of students being struck by lightning, and early experiments on to how to cool drinks 'without the Help of Snow, Ice, Haile, Wind or Niter, and That at Any Time of the Year.'

The archive also includes all articles from Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, first published in 1665 and officially recognised as the world's first ever peer-reviewed journal. Henry Oldenburg, the first Editor of Philosophical Transactions, wrote in his introduction to the first edition: ' is therefore thought fit to employ the Press, as the most proper way to gratify those, whose...delight in the advancement of Learning and profitable Discoveries, doth entitle them to the knowledge of what this Kingdom, or other parts of the World, do, from time to time, afford...' He went on to state that potential contributors are: '...invited and encouraged to search, try, and find out new things, impart their knowledge to one another, and contribute what they can to the Grand design of improving natural knowledge, and perfecting all Philosophical Arts, and Sciences.'

Thomas Henry Huxley FRS wrote in 1870: 'If all the books in the world, except the Philosophical Transactions, were to be destroyed, it is safe to say that the foundations of physical science would remain unshaken, and that the vast intellectual progress of the last two centuries would be largely, though incompletely, recorded.'

Professor Uta Frith FRS, Chair of the Royal Society library committee, said: 'I'm delighted that the Royal Society is continuing to increase access to its wonderful resources by opening up its publishing archives. The release of these papers opens a fascinating window on the history of scientific progress over the last few centuries and will be of interest to anybody who wants to understand how science has evolved since the days of the Royal Society's foundation.'

The move to open up our publishing archive coincides with Open Access Week, and is being made as part of the Royal Society's ongoing commitment to open access in scientific publishing. It also comes soon after the launch of our first ever fully open access journal, Open Biology.