A wide range of the author's previously published papers in the history of science is brought together in this book.
The articles, which are mainly concerned with the 18th and 19th centuries, are arranged in three sections: science in the Enlightenment period; science in an institutional context; national and international science. Some of the papers present a broad perspective, others are of a more detailed nature, drawing on the archives of the Paris Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society of London. An original interpretation of the career of Priestley is followed by a historiographical article on Lavoisier. Papers with a more social approach include subjects such as the professionalisation of science, peer review, and science and war. It is argued that science became a profession in France long before it did in Britain. France also created an important precedent in the academic world in demanding publications of research as credentials.
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