Scientific Publishing in Biomedicine: A Brief History of Scientific Journals

Scientific publishing, with about 350-year historical background, has played a central role in advancing science by disseminating new findings, generalizing accepted theories, and sharing novel ideas. The number of scientific journals has exponentially grown from 10 at the end of the 17th century to 100,000 at the end of the 20th century. The publishing landscape has dramatically changed over time from printed journals to online publishing. Although scientific publishing was initially non-commercial, it has become a profitable industry with a significant global financial turnover, reaching $28 billion in annual revenue before the COVID-19 pandemic. However, scientific publishing has encountered several challenges and is suffering from unethical practices and some negative phenomena, like publish-or-perish, driven by the need to survive or get a promotion in academia. Developing a global landscape with collaborative non-commercial journals and platforms is a primary proposed model for the future of scientific publishing. Here, we provide a brief history of the foundation and development of scientific journals and their evolution over time. Furthermore, current challenges and future perspectives of scientific publishing are discussed.