Setting Scientific Standards: Publishing in Medical Societies in Nineteenth-Century Belgium


This article examines the publishing procedures of nineteenth-century medical societies, using the Medical Society of Ghent (Belgium) as a case study. It argues, more precisely, that the introduction of formalized review procedures in medical societies can be considered part of the emergence of a professional scientific culture in the first half of the nineteenth century. First, by participating in these procedures physicians took on different stylized roles, for example of the contributing author, the righteous judge, or the punctual secretary, and articulated new professional values such as contributing to science. Second, the publishing procedures of medical societies also provide insight into the mechanisms of reaching consensus in nineteenth-century medicine. By developing new scientific genres, such as the published meeting report, medical societies aimed to extend the community of peers beyond the group of society members and establish trust and agreement throughout the medical community.