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The influence of periodicals and their editorial contexts on scientific discourses of the Arctic, 1789-1914. Or: How the Arctic became Epistemological Space

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - HAES (The influence of periodicals and their editorial contexts on scientific discourses of the Arctic, 1789-1914. Or: How the Arctic became Epistemological Space)

Reporting period: 2021-01-04 to 2023-01-03

As the Arctic Ocean ice melts, the Arctic region is attracting more and more attention from countries around the globe, including European states. To understand the risks and potentials of the Arctic ice melt, governments depend on scientific research.

The more the Arctic becomes the focus of European and world-wide governments, economies and socio-cultural endeavours, the more the communicational infrastructure that carries scientific findings and knowledge on this region needs to be reliable and robust. This Action aims to further a central element of this infrastructure—namely the scientific journal.

The way scientific insights are presented in scientific journals and communicated is ultimately linked with our everyday life: Arctic stakeholders and decision-makers use these insights, interpreting and adjusting their plans and strategies according to these insights. If scientific journals carry imprecise, unclear, false or overly generalising contents, this can lead to problematic decisions – and impact society.

This Action approached today’s scientific journals on Arctic research in a novel and innovative way: through the transnational study of historical scientific journals of the long nineteenth century (1789-1914). As human-made artefacts, science journals have mirrored political, economic and socio-cultural forces since their very beginnings —and this Action’s aim was to investigate how exactly these forces have shaped editorial contents and contexts. More concretely, this was an investigation of both the editorial contexts and contents of articles related to the Arctic that appeared in scientific journals within the geographical area that today is home to Austria, the United Kingdom, Germany, Poland and Switzerland.

If we understand how editorial processes formed earlier journal-based discourses on the Arctic, we can compare them to their counterparts of today, consider their strengths and weaknesses and take editorial Action to bolster current scientific discourses on the north polar region. This Action aimed to do so by bringing together history of science, media history, Arctic research and historical geography.
In course of the Action recommendations for today’s editors and editorial offices were formulated – and immediately put into practice in cooperation with the Polar Research at the Norwegian Polar Institute in Tromsø. During this cooperation (Secondment) nineteen recommendations were applied. They pertain to the process of peer review, usage of additional editorial formats, ways to include underrepresented researchers, approaches to editorial conflicts with authors, and avoiding the influence of economic and political interests on scientific editorship for the sake of polar science. Eleven recommendations have been in place since April 2022.
The historical findings of this Action have been circulated in academic and journalistic periodicals, during conferences and online-events as well as educational events for the broader public such as exhibitions.
Najnowsze odkrycia w okolicach Bieguna Północnego, 'Magazyn Powszechny'. 1836, nr 131, s.1044-1047.