Journal des sçavans

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Journal des sçavans
Publication details
Standard abbreviations
ISO 4J. Sçavans

The Journal des sçavans (later renamed Journal des savans and then Journal des savants, lit.'Journal of the Learned'), established by Denis de Sallo, is the earliest academic journal published in Europe. It is thought to be the earliest published scientific journal. It currently focuses on European history and premodern literature.


The first issue appeared as a twelve-page quarto pamphlet[1] on Monday, 5 January 1665.[2] This was shortly before the first appearance of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, on 6 March 1665.[3] The 18th-century French physician and encyclopédiste Louis-Anne La Virotte (1725–1759) was introduced to the journal through the protection of chancellor Henri François d'Aguesseau. Its content originally included obituaries of famous men, church history, scientific findings, and legal reports.[4][5][6] Natural philosophy was part of its original scope. It is thought to be the first published scientific journal.[6]

The journal ceased publication in 1792, during the French Revolution, and, although it very briefly reappeared in 1797 under the updated title Journal des savants, it did not re-commence regular publication until 1816. From then on, the Journal des savants was published by the National Imprimery under the patronage of the Institut de France. From 1908 to 2020, it was published under the patronage of the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres. In 2021, the Belgian company Peeters took over publication. It continues to be a leading academic journal in French humanities scholarship.

Landmark articles[edit]

Ole Rømer's determination of the speed of light was published in the journal in 1676, which established that light did not propagate instantly. It came to about 26% slower than the actual value.[7]

In 1684 the journal published François Bernier's racial theories.[8] In 1692, Leibniz published his first explication of Monadology in the journal.[9] In 1762 it carried Abraham Hyacinthe Anquetil-Duperron's landmark study of Zoroastrianism.[citation needed] A self-assured misreading of Japanese sources in an 1817 article by Jean-Pierre Abel-Rémusat[10] led to the name of the Bonin Islands.[11]


  1. ^ Brown, 1972, p. 368
  2. ^ Hallam, 1842, p. 406.
  3. ^ Partridge, Linda (6 March 2015). "Celebrating 350 years of Philosophical Transactions: life sciences papers". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 370 (1666): 1. doi:10.1098/rstb.2014.0380. PMC 4360128. PMID 25750243.
  4. ^ Benos, Dale J.; Bashari, Edlira; Chaves, Jose M.; Gaggar, Amit; Kapoor, Niren; LaFrance, Martin; Mans, Robert; Mayhew, David; McGowan, Sara; Polter, Abigail; Qadri, Yawar (1 June 2007). "The ups and downs of peer review". Advances in Physiology Education. 31 (2): 145–152. doi:10.1152/advan.00104.2006. ISSN 1043-4046. PMID 17562902.
  5. ^ Kronick, David A. (9 March 1990). "Peer Review in 18th-Century Scientific Journalism". JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association. 263 (10): 1321–1322. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03440100021002. ISSN 0098-7484. PMID 2406469.
  6. ^ a b "The Amsterdam printing of the Journal des sçavans". Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology, Smithsonian Institution. July 2000. Archived from the original on 11 January 2007.
  7. ^ Rømer, O (1676). "Démonstration touchant le mouvement de la lumière trouvé par M. Römer de l'Academie Royale des Sciences" (PDF). Journal des sçavans (in French): 223–36. Translated as "A Demonstration concerning the Motion of Light". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. 12 (136): 893–94. 1677. Bibcode:1677RSPT...12..893.. doi:10.1098/rstl.1677.0024. Archived from the original on 29 July 2007.
  8. ^ François Bernier, "A New Division of the Earth" from Journal des Scavans, April 24, 1684. Translated by T. Bendyshe in Memoirs Read Before the Anthropological Society of London, vol. 1, 1863–64, pp. 360–64.
  9. ^ R.A. Watson, The Downfall of Cartesianism 1673–1712 (The Hague: Nijhoff, 1966), p.15, citing "Extrait d'une lettre de Monsr. de Leibniz," Journal des sçavans 20 (2 June 1692), 365-269.
  10. ^ Abel-Rémusat, Jean-Pierre (July 1817), "Description d'un Groupe d'Îles Peu Connues [Description of a Little Known Group of Islands]", Journal des Savans [Journal of the Learnèd] (in French), Paris: Institut de France, pp. 387–396.
  11. ^ Kublin, Hyman (March 1953), "The Discovery of the Bonin Islands: A Reexamination" (PDF), Annals of the Association of American Geographers, vol. 43, Milton Park: Taylor & Francis, pp. 27–46, JSTOR 2561081.

Further reading[edit]

  • Brown, Harcourt (1972). "History and the Learned Journal". Journal of the History of Ideas. 33 (3): 365–378. doi:10.2307/2709041. JSTOR 2709041. PMID 11609708.
  • Hallam, Henry (1842). Introduction to the Literature of Europe in the Fifteenth, Sixteenth, and Seventeenth Centuries. Harper & Brothers.
  • James, Ioan (2004). Remarkable Physicists: From Galileo to Yukawa. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-01706-8.
  • Kilgour, Frederick G. (1998). The Evolution of the Book. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-511859-6.

External links[edit]