Scientific writing has always been changing, moved by multiple forces-some

of them under the inventive control of writers and editors creating articles and

journals; some evolving from the communal interactions of emerging and

changing scientific communities and their ways of pursuing investigations; some

responsive to larger organizational, political, and economic arrangements within

which science operates; and some exploiting the opportunities afforded by

changing communicative technologies. The forms and appearances of texts are

the realizations of communicative actions within these larger sets of forces.

What we may think of as the standard forms of scientific communication are

only semistable sets of expectations that emerged gradually since the invention

of journals in the 17th century. While some features arose early in this history,

some only took on robust form in the 20th century, as science came to reside at

the intersection of university departments and professional societies (with their

structures of rewards and advancements), government and business interests

and funding (based on their perceived needs for scientific and technological

knowledge), knowledge-based professions that pervade contemporary society

(with their reliance on systems of authority and credentials), expanding educated

populations who look toward science for knowledge, and evolving technologies

and systems for the production and distribution of texts (including cheap printing,

commercial publishing companies, university and professional libraries, national

mail systems, and international agreements).