The beauty of scientific papers – Design trends of the past 350 years

Reading blogs about scientific publishing can be a sobering experience. Peer review is broken; publishers are evil; papers are evaluated by the wrong metrics; and the data is probably faked anyway.

The positive moments are too easily forgotten. For one, there is the initial relief when you first submit your paper. Suddenly, your vague ideas or unsolved problems from a year ago have materialized into something substantial, something worth communicating to the world. And of course, there’s the excitement when your paper finally gets accepted for publication.

But this post is about another, more subtle happy moment in the lifecycle of a paper: it’s that email you get, when the production team sends you a PDF and you first see your paper in its typeset form. This the final form with which your work will enter the scientific record. And, it’s beautiful!

We believe that a scientific paper can be a thing of beauty in its own right. Which is why for our inaugural post, I opened the archives and took a closer look at the design trends and beautiful papers from the past 350 years.

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