The Royal Society

The Royal Society Journal Collection: Science in the Making

The Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society is the oldest continuously-published science journal in the world, and established the concepts of peer review and scientific priority. Since its first issue in 1665 it has published articles by Isaac Newton, Benjamin Franklin, Michael Faraday, James Clerk Maxwell, Alan Turing and Stephen Hawking.

The pilot platform provides access to newly digitised archive material relating to the published articles: manuscripts, marginalia, illustrations, correspondence and other influential related documents that have so far only been available to people visiting the Royal Society.

This material is a rich resource for historians of science, students, schoolchildren and the curious public, and the pilot explores ways of making this material available as a resource, focusing on user experience for navigation and search. Users can transcribe, tag and comment on the material, and provide new ways of linking items together.

In the pilot, three topics will be enriched with editorial content as case studies, with the aim of exploring how the platform can grow as a mixture of content from the Royal Society and the platform’s users.

Pilot users will be able to explore the collection via a combination of automatically generated and manually curated topic pages. This approach allows users unfamiliar with the material to explore it through the web of connections of people and concepts, and discover new content and relationships. Users can annotate, bookmark, collect, and tag journal collection material. For those more disposed to searching through archival metadata, the pilot will also support advanced search use cases for users perhaps already familiar with the material that interests them.


The Pilot platform uses a number of DLCS services. Images are hosted by the DLCS, to provide IIIF Image API endpoints for consumption on static pages and in deep zoom viewers. IIIF Manifests for each archive item are generated by the DLCS using archival metadata from the Royal Society. The Omeka S collection management systems holds the enhanced archive records used by the platform as well as the editorial content.

All user generated content is stored in the form of W3C Web Annotations in the DLCS annotation server and is available for later reuse. Our technical approach means that both the digitised source material (the digital representations of archival material) and the things that users say about that material (transcriptions, tags, comments, bookmarks) is available via open standards for later reuse - IIIF for the archive material, the W3C Web Annotation Data Model and Open Annotation for the user supplied content.

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